Sunday, July 22, 2007

One of These Countries is Not Like the Others

Let's play a game.

What do these countries all have in common:

Sri Lanka

... something not shared by that beacon of women's rights, the United States of America.

Yep, these nations, and many others, have been run by women.

In America there has been no woman president. Only 16% of congress are women. Well, someday perhaps the USA will catch up. Maybe the Philippines or India can come and liberate American women.

In Canada, we aren't exactly doing so well, either. No women lead any of the four major parties. We have never had more than 21% women in parliament, with few of these coming from aboriginal, immigrant or other minority women.

Granted, attaining gender parity in politics may not be the most urgent and pressing matter facing women, but it is one visible marker that helps us guage our progress.

Inspired by India electing its first woman president, Pratibha Patil.


Chris Benjamin said...

and Finland! Suomi! Suomi!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm all for seeing more women in power, but PLEASE don't jump to conclusions about the state of womens rights and real power based on something so superficial as the gender of the head of state.

Chile elected a woman president because she was the socialist candidate, and after a brutal military dictatorship the poor majority finds the socialists the lesser of two evils. Nevertheless, Chile is in the DUMPS when it comes to women's rights. You know that abortion is illegal here. But did you know that even though the morning after pill is technically legal, it's virtually impossible to find? Did you also know that there's a strong movement in congress to pull normal birth control pills off the shelves?

A woman president is the worse thing that could have happened to Chile. You know why? Because people like you lump Chile together with so-called "progressive" countries, and overlook the dire situation faced by its people. Michelle Bachelet isn't doing jack shit for Chile's women. This continues to be a totally machista country and because of Bachelet's low ratings (partly a result of the policies enacted by her predecessor Ricardo Lagos) it's common to hear people say "last time we're having a woman president".

If I were a woman, I would MUCH rather live in the United States.

Anonymous said...

I was going to mention that I don't think Canada really deserves to be on that list. The only women we've had as a leader wasn't elected to that post. She was given the leadership of a national party that was basically destroyed by its previous leader.

Campbell's only election as leader was the worst defeat suffered by a political party in Canadian history. Not exactly a great legacy.

I think the truly sad thing about women's progress in Canadian politics is that for the last couple of years, the most prominent female politician was Belinda Stronach. And look how she was treated when she switched parties compared to other floor crossers.

We have a long way to go in that regard.

Red Jenny said...

Chileno, I completely agree with you that having a woman head of state does not necessarily equate to a more just society for women. Absolutely. I was more making a point about politics here in North America. Pakistani women aren't particularly liberated or equal either, and yet they had a female head of government before the USA!

The struggle continues all over the world!