Over the past few decades the representation of women in politics increased considerably. One of the reasons of this process is greater influence of women’s organizations on the political life. These organizations cooperated closely with political and government institutions in order to introduce changes to the political system and facilitate women’s participation in legislative bodies (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). MP of Zimbabwe Margaret Dongo believes that one of the most important functions of the women organizations is the informative one:
“As women parliamentarians, we need to share our experiences. This in itself will inspire women. We will not feel that we are alone in this game, and other women will not feel isolated from the process. At every opportunity, at every forum, each and every time we must share information, ideas, knowledge. We must make sure that women are the most informed people within society” (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). The situation in the developing democracies is quite different.
The cooperation between women’s organizations and female politicians is not very strong and sometimes women’s organizations even try to keep distance from female MPs instead of the promotion of the latter and supporting their participation in political life of the country. This can be explained either by the fact that these organizations are not completely aware of the benefits of women in politics to the general position of all women in the country or this may just simply happen because of the lack of financial resources necessary for establishment and support of this contact (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007).
Socio-Economic Obstacles One more aspect I’d like to discuss in this paper concerns the socio-economic obstacles women face on their way to the political recognition. If we take for example the countries with “developing democracies”, we will see that economic crisis, which is typical for them, is particularly harmful for women, who suffer from its consequences such as poverty and unemployment more than men. Thus, these issues have been highly feminized (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007).
Women representation in politics is highly dependable upon the socio-economic conditions not only within developing democracies but within the long-standing democracies as well. It is obvious that participation of women in political institutions and elected bodies depends a lot on social and economic status of women (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). Thus, in numerous researches there have been established a link between participation of women in legislative bodies and proportion of women, who work outside the home.
The other connection has been established between percentage of female political recruitment and the number of women college graduates. Many scholars consider that socio-economic conditions occupy the second place after the type of electoral systems regarding their importance to the female legislative recruitment (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). There have been several classifications of the socio-economic obstacles, which influence women’s participation in politics. According to one of them socio-economic obstacles can be divided into the following types: • Insufficient financial resources;
• Poverty and unemployment; • Insufficient or limited access to educational resources and inability to make their own choice of professions; • Dual burden, which is for the most part restricted only to women politicians, and which implies the obligation of women to perform both their domestic tasks and professional duties (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). Razia Faiz, woman-politician of Bangladesh comments the existence of the socio-economic obstacles the following way: “The two most overwhelming obstacles for women in entering parliament are lack of constituents and lack of financial resources.
Women move from their father’s home to their husband’s home to their in-laws home. They are like refugees. They have no base from which to develop contacts with the people or to build knowledge and experience about the issues. Furthermore, they have no money of their own; the money belongs to their fathers, their husbands or their in-laws. Given the rising cost of running an effective campaign, this poses another serious hurdle for women in the developing world” (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007).