In political life, women’s progress has stalled. When decisions are made about our world, female politicians don’t even now have the numbers to ensure women’s needs are taken into account.
I recently attended a conference in South Africa to participate in strategic discussions on ways to increase female representation in parliaments. I was representing the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, Canadian region, which I chair, and I am also vice-chair of CWP International. CWP International is comprised of women parliamentarians from 52 Commonwealth countries.
It is the responsibility of all parliamentarians to ensure we have real inclusion of women. Women’s progress has stalled, and the number of women in politics has barely changed in the last decade.
Short of threshold
According to the United Nations, a threshold of 30 per cent of female legislators is needed to ensure that public policy reflects the needs of women. So, at the very heart of this issue is the question of democracy. The world is made up of 52 per cent women, and they are not well represented if only 20 per cent to 25 per cent of elected representatives are women. This creates a democratic deficit. It means that when it comes to making decisions that affect our world, women’s voices are not heard equally.
Women bring a unique experience to the political arena. This serves to enhance the quality of debate and to broaden and balance policy perspectives on a wide range of issues of importance.
Overall, women hold only about 20 per cent of all seats in parliaments globally. In Canada, only 10 per cent of directors of public company boards are women and only 29 per cent of senior managers in Canada are women. It’s about more than just politics, it’s about equality.