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Good Governance, Gender Equality and Women’s Political Representation

good-governance-gender-equality-and-womens-political-representation

Gender inequality has been a major issue since time and essence and has continued to exist in the contemporary world despite the long battles fought by feminist activists. We all are aware of the proven leadership qualities and abilities of women. Women are good initiators of change and their participation worldwide is very important to achieving sustainable development goals and outcomes. However, the hypocrisy that is still prevailing in this society is continuously restricting women to voice their opinions. Globally women’s representation within national parliaments is less than 20 per cent[1]. Although there has been remarkable progress in women’s representation in political parliament, it is still lower than the desired value. The low representation of women has significantly raised questions about the effectiveness of laws and policies and the failure of international bodies, and conferences on sabotaging gender inequality around the globe.

In order to achieve the goal of women's empowerment and reduce gender inequality, prime importance should be given to the three most important sectors of discrimination. These include education, political participation and employment. Often parents don’t allow their girl child to go to school either because of the conservativeness that is prevailing in the society or their conservative thought process. Even if women take proper schooling, the discriminative society in rural and non-agricultural areas does not give an equal share of wage to women as they give it to their men working in the same place, position and sector.

The number of positions given to women is often relatively fewer than those offered to men in various national parliaments as well. Only 25 per cent of all national parliamentarians are women, up from 11 per

cent in 1995[2]. Only four countries have 50 per cent or more women in parliament in single or lower houses: Rwanda with 61 per cent, Cuba with 53 per cent, Bolivia with 53 per cent, and the United Arab Emirates with 50 per cent[3].


good-governance-gender-equality-and-womens-political-representation

Good governance happens when the population of the whole nation is happy and satisfied and all their issues have been addressed. If women’s rights are denied then good governance won’t ever exist. So, women’s ideas and opinions matter in shaping policies and outcomes in order to achieve the agenda of good governance.

The 2011 UN General Assembly resolution on women’s political participation reiterated that “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.”[4] In many patriarchal societies, women are often married at a very young age, thus, violating the laws of child marriage.

good-governance-gender-equality-and-womens-political-representation

Why people are allowed to marry their girl child at a young age? Why are girls denied autonomy over their lives? Why women are denied equality? Why is gender inequality not being addressed rigorously at various levels of society? To answer such several questions, one reason would be the futile laws and policies of the country, where laws are made, however, the enforcement mechanism is inadequate thus,

rendering the laws to be ineffective. Another reason would be the conservative and patriarchal society which restricts the thoughts of women to such an extent that sometimes they don’t even have the courage to stand and speak up for themselves.

Other factors such as poverty, lack of safety mechanisms, inaccessible educational institutions, child marriage and early pregnancy, violence, unequal women's political representation, domestic violence etc. are also factors affecting gender inequality. Often women are denied their right to wear anything they want and are often told to cover up themselves. These stereotypes not only take place in societies but also are present in religious places like temples. In some societies, conservativeness exists to such an extent that crimes like female foeticides are followed by people.

History has seen both ups and downs in gender inequality.

One such instance was suffrage and the right to suffrage, where women were prohibited from voting in elections. Taking away the right to vote from women was similar to taking away the right to express their opinions. The right to vote for women was granted after many hardships, battles fought by women activists and was granted much later than men.

good-governance-gender-equality-and-womens-political-representation

In ancient times, the roles of married women were seen as revolving around their family, doing household chores, raising their children and husbands were seen as the prime decision-makers, who earned income and made important decisions. Women, after marriage, were deprived of the right to hold property or retain earnings. All the properties and earnings of women were transferred to their husbands after marriage. Women also were deprived of their inherited rights which included their right to have their share of the business, in case they had an elder or a younger brother and were also not considered coparceners till 2005. Even after marriage all their rights and properties were given to their husbands.

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A wife’s body was also the possession of the husband, to the extent that – in the eyes of the law – a husband could not rape his wife as her consent, upon marriage, could be assumed[5]. Even, children were considered as the possession of their fathers, irrespective of the fact that all the upbringing of the child was done by mothers. Historically, women had fewer educational opportunities and also the laws at that time were not in support of women.

good-governance-gender-equality-and-womens-political-representation

Gender inequality, good governance and women's political representation have come up through a long way of struggles, and campaigns from ancient times to today’s era and still have a long way to go. Our history is thankful to women activists like Sojourner

Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Frida Kahlo, fearlessly dedicated their lives to fighting for and defending gender equality. Although gender inequality has vanished to a great extent, Today, however, there are still many women suffering right now, which arises the need to further fight against gender inequality.

In order to make girls educated, government schools giving free education shall ensure proper education and nourishment of children. Most government schools don’t offer good quality education to students. The system of government schools should be strengthened. Scholarships should also be granted to girls.

Laws of the country should be strengthened and strict checking should be conducted on crimes like female foeticide, child marriage etc.

Women's employment should be increased and so as their wages.

More and more women should be engaged in the fields of politics and laws which also help break the common taboo that ‘women engaged in law and politics find it difficult to marry’ or ‘most people don’t want to marry a woman from the field of law or politics’.

NGOs helping to eradicate gender inequality should be promoted.

Awareness, by the means of education, should be spread in rural areas and to parents encouraging their girls to participate in various development activities and to help and promote women empowerment and also help societies get rid of their patriarchal thoughts.

Why has engendering governance and increasing women's participation in parliament in particular been proved so difficult? The answer to this crucial question lies in understanding the importance of gender equality and the history and the problems associated with gender equality. This article emphasized the importance of women's political participation, gender equality and good governance. It also discussed the ways in which women are suppressed, all around the world and the ways to fight gender inequality. “It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals”-Emma Watson.

REFERENCES

[1] Sharon Bessell, ‘Good governance, gender equality and women’s political representation: Ideas as points of disjuncture,ResearchGate (January,2016) <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325675383_Good_governance_gender_equality_and_women's_political_representation_Ideas_as_points_of_disjuncture > accessed 19th December,2021.

[2] ‘Facts and figures: Women’s leadership and political participation’, UN Women <https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/leadership-and-political-participation/facts-and-figures> accessed 19th December,2021

[3] Ibid.

[4] ‘Political Participation of Women’, UN Women< https://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/focus-areas/governance/political-participation-of-women > accessed 19th December,2021.

[5] ‘A brief history of gender (in)equality’, Futurelearn https://www.futurelearn.com/info/courses/understanding-gender-inequality/0/steps/66837 accessed 19th December,2021.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Moksha Grover

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