Thursday, February 16, 2006

Avast! Feminist Conspiracy!

Women in Office

This is Bleu, the Avast! member who has yet to post anything. I'm a stay-at-home mom and helping to run an exciting campaign for a pro-choice woman Democrat -- so pretty much every minute in my life is accounted for. An article came out today that stirred me to post, already.

Breaking news: Women Hold Fewer State Govt Posts Than Men. Okay, not really news!

Women's participation in elected office, on average, has long hovered at roughly 20%. This is not competitive in comparison to other countries' rates of women in government, even those countries that are not Sweden (Mecca for gender equality), or that do not have laws requiring representative quotas of women / minority groups, are not progressive, European, industrialized, secular or affluent. In other words, though the United States is often considered a bastion of powerful women -- by Americans and by people in other countries -- well, we're not all that. In fact, even religious Islamic nations that disapprove of Western worldy, sexualized images of women often have more women in government that does the United States. And from where I sit, bikini-clad women prancing around in beer commercials just isn't my vision of equality.

What would the United States look like if we had more representative government? Does the gender of our political decision-makers really matter? Well... yes. Studies have long shown a correlation between women in government office and pro-choice policy (please note this is a .pdf file), as well as other policies that affect women and children. What policies -- beyond the obvious concern with reproductive rights -- are measurably affected? The above-mentioned 2002 IWPR study cites conditions in the following areas: violence against women, child support, welfare policies, employment /unemployment benefits, sexual orientation and gender identity, and institutional resources.

So what do we do about this? You get involved at the grassroots level. You make the calls and write the letters to your elected officials. You volunteer for and/or donate to qualified pro-choice women candidates. At the very minimum, you register and vote.

Are you all fired up? No? Then have another coffee and re-read this post. Because you sure should be!


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