Two Concepts of Equality

I can say that quotas for women lead to the shift from one concept of equality to another. The first equality concept regards equality as “equal opportunity” or “competitive equality” and its essence lay in the fact that in order to guarantee equal rights for women politicians it is essential to remove some formal barriers. However, the result of this was visible only for individual women (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007).

Due to the active feminist movement, which claimed that removal of formal barriers is not enough to secure real equality for women-politicians, there appeared the other concept of equality, which is called “equality of result”. In order to provide this equality of result there were introduced quotas and other forms of positive measures. It was claimed that if barriers exist the guarantee of equal opportunities is not enough. In order to fight discriminatory barriers compensatory measures should be introduced, which leads to the establishment of the equality of result (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007).

In this paper I have discussed the problem of women underrepresentation in politics. I came to the conclusion that even in spite of the active feminist movement and fight for human rights, the world of politics is still male-dominated. Only in several countries of the world the number of women reached 40 % from the general number of politicians of the parliament. There are numerous factors, which can hamper the women political career. Among the ones, which have been discussed above, I can mention the following most important ones:

Weak access of women to political institutions and problems associated with integration into them; Majority of political institutions are based according to male standards, behavioral patterns and political attitudes; Women experience great lack of party support, as well as financial support, which creates additional obstacles for their political, social and economic promotion; Insufficient attention of the media to the women skills, achievements and contributions, which leads to the lack of a constituency for women;

Low level of cooperation with women organizations and insufficient support from them; Dual burden women have to carry, which comprises their political activities and the responsibility to take care of their family and raise their children; Low level of self-esteem and self-confidence, which is culturally-based and promoted by the male politicians to hamper women progress in political careers; Existence of the type of electoral system, unfavorable for the women promotion along with the lack of quota reservations.

However, as it was discussed in the paper it is important for the well-being of the world to promote participation of women in the political decision making process. Women make considerable contribution due to their greater concern to the questions not human rights, social policy, youth questions and educational issues. Once the importance of women is understood by the government, the process of encouragement of women takes place. However, this is not an easy task. It requires serious consideration and long time for implementation.

Among the most popular encouraging measures are structural changes, like introduction of the flexible working day for women politicians, banning those politicians, who occupy seats on different levels, which will make more seats available for women. Introduction of quotas can also be viewed as one of the most effective measures for the promotion of the number of women in politics. The notion of quotas implies that there should be a definite percentage of women in parliament. The other possible means of encouragement include proper educational measures and training of the leadership qualifications of women politics.

References

Burrell, Barbara. Campaign Finance. Women’s Experience in the Modern Era”. In Women and Elective Office: Past, Present, and Future, eds. Sue Thomas and Clyde Wilcox. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Campfield, N. Zeke. Women underrepresented in politics. Online. Available from: <http://badgerherald. com/news/2001/10/22/women_underrepresent. php> 4 November 2007. Carroll, Susan J. and Wendy S. Strimling. Women's Routes to Elective Office: A Comparison With Men's. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for the American Woman and Politics, 1983.