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Worldwide, the proportion of women in political positions is far lower than that of men. Women have a poor social status, which inhibits them from running for political office. They are viewed as caregivers who should be responsible for domestic tasks and kid care. In the political context, they confront several obstacles include as being barred from running for office due to party lists, fierce competition from their male counterparts, lack of confidence, internal disagreements, and corruption, among others. Based on the traditional ideologies on gender, political parties avoid going through the risk of nominating female candidates to be elected at the ballot box. They virtually nominate male candidates for all or most of the political slots. Since the olden days, men have been in political positions. This makes it easier for them to be reelected to their positions. Most women prefer to run for political posts later on in their life, after they have had children, and this gives them a shorter span of taking part in politics.
The coverage of women in politics is affected by the mass media. The media keeps on addressing issues like birth control and abortion which are faced by women. This creates a war on women because they are mainly judged by the issues that they face. When they try to be elected into political positions, voters prefer male candidates because of the image painted by media reports about women. Most public holidays are held in remembrance of prominent male leaders. Women are limited to holidays like the “Mothers’ day”.
Effects of Underrepresentation of Women in Politics
In the society, the underrepresentation of women in politics has a number of repercussions. Having women in various political positions can help the issues faced by women and girls in the society to be addresses because the leaders can relate with them through experience. In a country where politics are dominated by the male gender, the issues faced by women are easily foregone because there is no one to speak for them. This leaves the women and children in the countries as the disadvantaged groups.
Research shows that women are more effective in promoting governments that are honest and free from corruption (Heyes, Para 7). If they are underrepresented in politics, there is likely to be high levels of corruption in the government according to the findings of research done on the issue. The girl children growing up may lack the motivation to be hardworking so that they can be political leaders if they grow up seeing a society where politics are dominated by men. This may discourage them by making them think that they do not stand a chance in the future when they are ready to join the political world.
The underrepresentation of women in politics makes women to feel discriminated against in the society. They feel that their status is not accepted and this may prevent them from discovering their potential and ability due to the lack of motivation (Bullock and Mark, 34). Their underrepresentation prevents gender empowerment and development and as a result, the general development in the concerned countries is low. The standard of living consequently becomes low.
Reasons given by Lawless and Fox (2012) for the Underrepresentation of Women in Politics
Lawless and Fox cite a number of reasons why women are underrepresented in politics. They observe that various institutions are globally dominated by the male gender. As a result, when it comes to candidates running for the various political posts, the institutions support male candidates by helping to make their campaigns successful and giving them the required provisions. According to them, political institutions which include political parties and the social eligibility pool are designed and controlled by men. They, therefore, encourage the emergence of male candidates in politics and subdue the rise of women in the same (Bullock and Mark, 40).
Lawless and Fox asserted that compared to men, women are less likely to get suggestions that they should run for the various political positions. Women are mainly faced with the task of taking care of household chores and taking care of their children. Because of this, they rarely participate in political issues. Most women perceive the political environment as biased against them and highly competitive making them afraid of venturing into it. According to Lawless and Fox, the way Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin were treated in the United States affected the perception of women on politics. It discourages them from running for political posts. Female candidates are less confident in their bid for political positions because of the status they are given in the society.
Women and children have rights which include the right to education, right to vote provided that they meet the necessary requirements and the right to be protected from violence, discrimination and slavery. These rights are recognized globally and policies are created and implemented to ensure that women and children are treated in the right way and their rights are respected. Unfortunately, most of the global countries do not recognize the rights of women and children and in most cases, they are denied their rights (Archard, Para 13). For women, it is mainly because of their gender which is commonly treated as the minority gender while for children, it is because they lack activists who can speak up for them and address their grievances.
Currently, there are various movements all over the world who implement policies that help women and children to get their rights. Others push the government and other bodies in their countries to come up with policies that support women and children. An example of such a body is the Global Fund for Women, which supports women right movements and groups fighting for the rights of women. It stands for women equality rights and other rights involving their healthcare, female genital mutilation which is considered a violation of their rights and equal treatment of women in the society. A new body known as the Sustainable Development Goals is supportive of women rights and fights for gender equality.
Concerning the welfare of children, an assertment stating how children should be treated was passed by the League of Nations in the year 1924. It continued to affirm that any child was supposed to be given the right provisions and conditions for them to go through a normal development. Globally, the main problems faced by children while they are growing up include poverty, which makes them lack the necessary basic needs they require and being raised by single parents or being neglected (Archard, Para 17). To handle the problems, countries implement policies that ensure that the needs of children are met. This is mainly done through the creation of bodies that push for the same. Countries have children support programs particularly for parents who neglect their children and fail to provide for them. The Convention, which was initially started in the United States, is a body which has been adopted globally and protects the rights of children.
Case Study of a Country which has Programs that Support Women, Children and Care Work
In India, there are several programs and movements that are put into place to support the women and children living there. Most of the movements are successful in meeting their set objectives. One of the movements is known as WE movement. It started out as WE Charity and its main target was providing a rescue home where children who were subjected to hard labor in India would run to.
The child laborers would be freed from their oppressive employers once they reported to the homes. We movement considered the fact that a significant percentage of Indian citizens live below the poverty line. They lack good education and other necessities. Since the year 2008 when WE movement started taking actions to improve the lives of women and children, a notable progress has been observed. Health centers and schools have been built and renovated where necessary to provide education and good health services. Groups to help women have alternative sources of income have also been encouraged. WE movement avails water and sanitation to homes through providing the required resources like hand pumps and watershed development. Mobile health clinics are availed to immunize children so that they can survive diseases and to safeguard the health of their mothers. According to statistics, the children in India are reported to be among the most malnourished globally. WE Movement tries to uphold their health by teaching Indian citizens on how to conduct their agricultural activities to ensure that they grow crops that are nutritious. Water sources are rehabilitated so that farmers can have adequate water for irrigation. Women in India are empowered by the movement so that they can find means of earning financial income. To date, the movement has been successful in offering its services to the Indian community.
In India, Anganwadi is a center in the rural areas that takes care of mothers and children. Initially, it was used by the government to fight hunger and malnutrition among children. The center was a part of another program in India known as the Integrated Child Development Services. The main service given by the center is to provide health care in the country. Its activities include offering pre-school activities, education and supplementation on nutrition and supply of contraceptive as well as education on how to use them. They are beneficial to women and children because children are immunized, women get contraceptive services, while both of them get healthcare check-up and nutrition information.
Anganwadi benefits the children and women living in the rural areas where it is difficult to easily access health care and nutritional services. One can say that to some extent, the centers have been successful in their role of offering their various services to people in rural India. They continue to make developments that are aimed at making their services better and advanced so that the needs of their clients can be met effectively. Because sometimes the women and children living in rural area are only conversant with their local languages, they benefit from Anganwadi because the workers can communicate using their language.
Christian Action Research and Education, popularly known as CARE is a global relief agency which is found in many countries including India. Among other services, it empowers women by promoting gender inequality. It also offers the girl-child an environment where they can grow without being discriminated against. The programs advocate for policies that uphold the rights of women, the poor and children, particularly the girls. In India, CARE programs can be termed as successful because the lives of girls and women from downgraded and poor communities are improved. They are empowered and their rights are addressed.
Archard, David William, "Children's Rights", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
Bullock, Charles S, and Mark J. Rozell. The Oxford Handbook of Southern Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.
Heyes, Cressida, "Identity Politics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
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