Presentation on theme: "Pulse Point ParliaMENt – Women in Power. ParliaMENt? Conservative MP Anne McIntosh is deselected by her local party. Four female Conservative MPs announce."— Presentation transcript:
ParliaMENt? Conservative MP Anne McIntosh is deselected by her local party. Four female Conservative MPs announce they are stepping down or will not stand at the next election. A series of dismissals of women leaders of quangos prompts Labour MP Harriet Harman to ask the government what is their ‘problem with women?’ The Liberal Democrats face internal rifts following accusations of sexual harassment made against former party Chairman Lord Rennart, and MP Mike Hancock faces charges for making unwanted sexual advances to a vulnerable constituent.
ParliaMENt? Ukip member Geoffrey Bloom resigned over sexist gaffes including calling a room full of women ‘sluts’. London Mayor Boris Johnson suggested that women go to university to meet husbands. Foreign Secretary William Hague was caught dismissing a female MP as a ‘stupid woman’. David Cameron refused to define himself as a feminist, although he did insist he believed in gender equality, and he has vowed to make 2014 ‘Year of Women’.
ParliaMENt? Internationally, France was hit with accusations of institutional sexism following outrageous scenes in their parliament where a female speaker was interrupted by chicken (a French slang term for woman) noises from male colleagues. A culmination of sexist incidents, led to female politicians staging a walk-out. In America, Texan Senator Wendy Davis faced a barrage of sexist abuse from extreme right GOP Republicans following her famous filibuster against the mass closure of abortion clinics and her subsequent candidacy for Governor.
Pulse Points. Does it matter if there aren’t many women MPs? If parliament had an equal gender balance, what, if any, policies would change? Would priorities be different? Why aren’t there more female MPs? What is the future for women in power?
Women in Parliament Tony Blair brought in all-women shortlists in 1997, which saw 101 female Labour MPs being elected. David Cameron also used such lists to increase the number of women Conservative MPs from 19 to 49. The Liberal Democrats have argued against ‘selective’ lists as an undemocratic and as a consequence they have low numbers of female MPs.
Why are there so few women MPs? One opinion is that institutional sexism fails to nominate women candidates in winnable seats. This is often given as the justification for all-women shortlists in safe seats. The working hours of MPs can be incompatible with family life such as late night debates and weekend constituency work. Sarah Woolaston MP points out that adversarial debates don’t favour women’s voices which makes them sound like they’re shreiking. She added ‘It's a very male- dominated environment and it's just not how modern Britain is. The rest of the country has moved on and Parliament is lagging behind’
Women in Congress President Obama has a strong record of appointing women in high profile positions. He made Hilary Clinton the first female Secretary of State, Janet Yelland the first female Head of the Federal Reserve as well as a record number of federal judges and two Supreme Court judges. In 2008 Barack Obama defeated Hilary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Some believed that while America may be ready for a black President, they still wouldn’t elect a woman. However with Clinton said to be a forerunner for the 2016 nomination, a female President of the United States may not be too far away.
Women in Congress Currently just 18.5% of Congress is made up of women. The resurgence of the GOP Republicans has seen changes in the way female candidates for office are treated. There are many prominent female Republicans, however those women on the other side of the political spectrum are often subjected to vitriolic sexist attacks. A dominant right-wing media and the influence religion holds in US politics contribute to the marginalisation of women. The 2010 elections were the first time since 1987 that there was not an increase in women voted into Congress. It would appear that on both sides of the Atlantic, the progress towards equal representation has paused.