We Don’t Need Another Sarah Palin
By: Sana Johnson, Communications Intern, Mina’s List
Increasing the rates of female political participation is crucial to achieving gender parity, but breaking the glass ceiling requires a twofold solution. In addition to women’s equal (50%) representation in national government, we need women political leaders who are willing and able to address the issues that are most relevant to women. This is why Mina’s List calls for women’s equal and substantive political representation. We need empowered women in national governments. We don’t need another Sarah Palin.
For a woman’s political participation to be substantive, she must advocate for policies that attempt to close the opportunity gaps between men and women. We believe that by working with in-country women’s rights organizations and current female legislators, ML can provide aspiring women political leaders the tools necessary to effectively participate in legislative positions. This capacity-building is what ML means by empowerment, and is the key to securing equal rights for women.
While research has shown that women’s political participation can raise the standard of living for all, we need our leaders to address the specific areas that most impact women. Issues such as poverty, illiteracy, disappearing social safety nets, and lack of access to clean water require the substantive representation of women political leaders to address them in a meaningful way. The areas of peace-building and conflict resolution also require legislation that supports women in particular. It has become general knowledge that war disproportionately affects women. The use of rape, sexual slavery, and forced pregnancy as war tactics has grown tremendously. To improve the status of women, female political leaders must have the determination and capacity to advocate for women in these areas. The presence of more women at the table does not necessarily beget change, however the participation of more empowered female decision-makers does.
Evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of women’s substantive political participation is overwhelming. For example, figures show that as the percentage of women legislators increases by 10 percent, countries are about 10 percent more likely to adopt legal protections against domestic violence and sexual harassment. In Argentina, female parliamentarians represent only 14 percent of deputies but introduced 78 percent of the bills related to women’s rights. These gains are the result of empowered women’s leadership.
Mina’s List is committed to giving aspiring women political leaders the power they need to advance women’s rights. Now is the time to capitalize on the current global increase of women in politics. Women deserve to have representatives who will drive their issues forward, and we all deserve to enjoy what women parliamentarians contribute to the world.