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Women's Leadership

News reports over the past few years featuring Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, or his daughter, Kim Ju Ae, have led to speculation about a future North Korea ruled by a woman. This is an intriguing development worth monitoring, given the North Korean regime’s history of patrilineal succession. However, ordinary North Korean women may have a greater role to play in the future of the country.

These women are typically out of the spotlight but always present in the background, working for the Kaesong Industrial Complex, applauding Kim Jong Un or his military parade with flowers, or dancing to songs in front of respected guests. They have never received significant attention, but they might have the potential to empower themselves and create positive dynamics in contemporary North Korea. Accordingly, the international community should focus specifically on increasing those women’s access to opportunities and resources and their ability to effect change in North Korean society through various multilateral engagements.

Read here the full article published by the United States Institute of Peace on 28 May 2024.

Image by United States Institute of Peace

 

In the last five-year term, both the proportion of women in the European Parliament and in relevant positions in European institutions have improved significantly. In contrast, the Hungarian government hold a negative record for the participation of female ministers: there are none. Hungary is also last in the EU when it comes to the percentage of women in parliament.

Hungary came last on yet another EU list, this time it has become the leader in the ratio of women ministers and MEPs, in the wrong way. After the resignation of Judit Varga, not only Hungary has the lowest proportion of female ministers in Europe, but this figure is simply 0 percent, as it has no female ministers at all.

For voters familiar with the reality of Hungarian politics, this is probably not an outlier: even before the Fidesz government, the proportion of female ministers in Hungary was never above 30%, and there were occasional periods, such as in 2009, when there were no female ministers. In the first quarter of 2024, Hungary also came last in the EU in terms of female representatives in the national parliament, with 14.1%, just behind Cyprus with 14.3%.

Also, the proportion of Hungarian female MEPs in the European Parliament is 38.1%, barely below the European average of 39.4%. In this article, we focus on how many women are elected, the number of those in prominent positions, and why there are so few of them.

Read here the full article published by the European Data Journalism Network on 24 May 2024.

Image by European Data Journalism Network

 

Nana Shettima, wife of Vice-President Kashim Shettima and other stakeholders, says political equity and women’s empowerment are crucial to sustainable development in Nigeria.

They stated this at the Women of Worth Group Global Magazine unveiling and Award Dinner in Abuja.

Ms Shettima said Nigerian women had faced numerous challenges yet were relentless in achieving their dreams.

She said, “I encourage you women to continue to be strong and to strive to succeed in all you do because you hold the key to national development.

“I urge you to carry everyone along regardless of religion and ethnicity, strive to create inclusion in all you do and work together as one, encouraging each other to be better.

“I commend the initiative of the Women of Worth Global Group. This is a major milestone in promoting women and giving them hope in politics and all spheres of life.’’

The keynote speaker, a humanitarian and politician Amina Farouk, said that although women were more than half of Nigeria’s population, lamenting, ”their political participation has been regressing over time.”

Read here the full article published by Peoples Gazette on 26 May 2024.

Image by Peoples Gazette

 

From the local to the global level, women’s leadership and political participation are restricted. Women are underrepresented as voters, as well as in leading positions, whether in elected office, the civil service, the private sector or academia. This occurs despite their proven abilities as leaders and agents of change, and their right to participate equally in democratic governance.

Women face several obstacles to participating in political life. Structural barriers through discriminatory laws and institutions still limit women’s options to run for office. Capacity gaps mean women are less likely than men to have the education, contacts and resources needed to become effective leaders.

As the 2011 UN General Assembly resolution on women’s political participation notes, “Women in every part of the world continue to be largely marginalized from the political sphere, often as a result of discriminatory laws, practices, attitudes and gender stereotypes, low levels of education, lack of access to health care and the disproportionate effect of poverty on women.”

Individual women have overcome these obstacles with great acclaim, and often to the benefit of society at large. But for women as a whole, the playing field needs to be level, opening opportunities for all.

Read here the full article published by UN Women on 27 May 2024.

 

On 20 May 2024, a round table on "Ensuring women’s engagement in political processes in Ukraine" was held in Kyiv.

The round table discussion was focused on the issues of common strategy towards supporting active women participation in political process, ensuring guarantees for the exercise of electoral rights by women in view of the challenges caused by the military aggression of the Russian Federation, as well as strengthening the legal framework for the provision and effective enforcement of gender quota in electoral lists, and other issues.

The round table discussion was attended by more than 50 participants, including members and representatives of the Parliament of Ukraine, Central Election Commission, other state authorities, civil society and international organizations.

During the event, amongst other, the results of the Council of Europe study "Gender equality, balanced political participation and representation of women and men in post-war public and political processes in Ukraine: challenges and perspectives" were presented and discussed, as well as the results of the strategic session, which the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine co-organised with the Central Election Commission in November 2023 on issues of needs, challenges and relevant support measures to ensure gender-balanced participation and representation of women and men in public, political and electoral processes in Ukraine in the post-war period.

The event was organised by the Ukrainian Parliamentary Committee on State Power, Local Self-Government, Regional and Urban Development in cooperation with the Civic Network “OPORA,” International Foundation for Electoral Systems and Council of Europe*.

Read here the full article published by the Council of Europe on 22 May 2024.

Image by Council of Europe

 

Before Donald Trump was a president, he was a television celebrity and high-profile real estate mogul. His political experience, or lack thereof, was touted on the campaign trail eight years ago as a fresh presence in Washington.

A few other men have garnered celebrity status before they ventured into politics. Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood and Arnold Schwarzenegger were all tough-guy film stars long before they ran for president, mayor and governor respectively. Al Franken got people laughing on Saturday Night Live before serving as a Minnesota Senator.

But no woman has transitioned from stardom to high public office.

To better understand why and which famous female might be able to make the shift, Suffolk University and USA Today conducted an exclusive poll earlier this month of 1,000 likely voters.

Three celebrity women would win the backing of nearly 30% of those polled: TV personality Oprah Winfrey, actor Sandra Bullock and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. Actresses Viola Davis and Julia Roberts and comedian Tina Fey each earned the support of about a quarter of those surveyed, with Whoopi Goldberg, Jodie Foster and Rachel Maddow not too far behind.

Read here the full article published by USA Today on 22 May 2024.

Image by USA Today

 

Progress towards legal gender equality has stalled in many parts of the world. The data published earlier this year by Women, Business, and the Law report reveals that women, on average, have less than two-thirds of the legal protections that men have, down from a previous estimate of just over three-quarters. This stark reality is a sobering reminder of the challenges that still lie ahead.

For example, the absence of legislation prohibiting sexual harassment in public spaces, such as mass transit, hampers women's ability to access employment opportunities and fully participate in the workforce. The lack of services and financing for parents with young children places a disproportionate burden on women. Furthermore, the effectiveness of gender-sensitive legislation is often undermined by inadequate enforcement mechanisms. In many regions, women's limited political clout fuels a self-perpetuating cycle of restricted legal rights and reduced economic empowerment.

Recognizing the importance of women's representation in political leadership, the World Bank, represented by the Women Business and the Law (WBL) report, Women Political Leaders (WPL), and the Oliver Wyman Forum (OWF), have joined forces to address the challenges faced by women in political leadership positions. Our collaborative efforts under the Representation Matters program aim to foster women’s participation in decision-making positions, and to promote legal equality and economic opportunities not only for women, but for everyone.

The initiative comes at a critical time. Achieving equal opportunity is not only a fundamental human right for half of the world's population; it is also an opportunity to drive faster economic growth, fostering prosperity for all.

Read here the full article published by The World Bank on 14 May on 2024.

Image by The World Bank

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Pursuing gender equality remains a significant challenge in the 21st century. Despite notable advancements in fields such as education, healthcare, and economic engagement, there remains a persistent disparity in the representation of women in leadership positions across various industries. This disparity not only hinders the optimal utilisation of the labour force but also restricts societal progress. Existing evaluation criteria often prove inadequate as they fail to account for the intricacies of women's leadership trajectories, particularly in the Global South nations. To bridge this divide, a comprehensive quantitative approach that delves into the nuances of female leadership and empowerment is imperative.

Reimagining gender indices

Several well-established indices have been crucial in assessing advancements in gender equality. The Global Gender Gap Index by the World Economic Forum and the Gender Inequality Index by the UNDP offer essential insights into various areas, including economic participation and political representation. Initiatives like the Women's Empowerment Principles by UN Women and the Women, Peace, and Security Index by Georgetown Institute shed light on specific facets of women's rights and inclusion. However, these measures often prioritise a limited number of indicators, primarily concentrating on outcome-driven data.

Read here the full article published by the Observer Research Foundation on 30 April 2024.

Image by Observer Research Foundation

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Tracking the number of women in elective office represents only one measure of political power, two Rutgers University researchers told the 2024 National Press Foundation Women in Politics Fellowship.

They say entrenched inequities persist in legislative leadership, fundraising, and the outsized influence of unelected gatekeepers.

“We know that keeping track of women’s political representation, specifically the numbers of women in elective office, is just one piece of a larger puzzle to understanding and addressing disparities in women’s political power,” said Kelly Dittmar, associate professor of political science and director of research Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Read here the full article published by National Press Foundation on 25 April 2024.

Image by National Press Foundation

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It’s 2024, but power still looks like a man. Despite Australia’s claim to egalitarianism, achieving equal political participation and representation remains a formidable challenge for women. Concerningly, the persistent and ingrained obstacles in women’s way are affecting the aspirations of the next generation of female leaders.

According to 2022 research spanning 29 countries, including Australia, satisfaction among young females aged 15-24 with their leaders’ decisions on issues they care about stands at a mere 11%. An overwhelming 97% acknowledged the importance of political participation. Yet, only 24% of those aspiring to engage in politics could see themselves running for office.

Worse still, 20% have been personally discouraged from political involvement. This is often because they’re either considered to be less qualified or that they will inevitably face discrimination and gendered violence.

I crunched the numbers to assess the situation in Australia. While much has been said about the mistreatment of female leaders, how does this play into the psyche of female constituents?

Read here the full article published by The Conversation on 7 March 2024.

Image source: The Conversation.

Abstract: While the passage of the 2018 Gender Parity Law was a step in the right direction, progress on women’s political empowerment in Japan has been slow. With a combined effort from advocacy groups, political parties, and the international community to include more women on ballots and support them to electoral success, Japan can move the needle on gender equity in politics.

The annual Group of Seven (G7) meeting invites opportunities for multi-national collaboration but also comparison amongst the attending states. The G7 countries (Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France, and Japan, plus attendance from the European Union) indeed share many things in common: they are all relatively wealthy, liberal democracies committed to working together on global issues. Yet the photos from this year’s meeting highlight another questionable commonality: where aren’t there more women in positions of leadership? A deeper look reveals varying levels of gender equality in politics across G7 members with Japan continuing to lag significantly behind.

Click here to read the full article published by The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus on 10 December 2023.

Image by The Asia-Pacific Journal

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Previous work suggests that observing women officeholders increases women’s political ambition. Yet, jumps in women’s representation in the United States’ “Years of the Woman”—following the Anita Hill testimonies and the election of Donald Trump—are linked to women’s exclusion from political decision-making. Drawing on focus groups with prospective women candidates, we theorize that exclusion when combined with a gendered policy threat increases women’s political ambition. Using survey experiments replicated across different samples, we show that women who read about an all-male city council poised to legislate on women’s rights report increased ambition compared with their pretreatment ambition levels and to women in other treatment groups. Women’s increased sense of political efficacy drives these results. When women’s rights are not under discussion, men’s overrepresentation does not move (or even depresses) women’s ambition. Seeing the policy consequences of their exclusion causes some women to seek a seat at the table.

Click here to read the full article published by the American Political Science Association on 30 November 2023.

Image by The American Political Science Association

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