Women and Politics Media Roundup – Week One

This is a new feature that we’re trying out on the blog! EV Volunteer Bernd will be doing media monitoring and selecting and summarizing key stories about women and politics this week. Take a look and feel free to share and leave comments.

IMF Head Christine Lagarde: Exclusive Interview
The Daily Beast, June 23rd

Why should you read this? Simply put, Christine Lagarde is one of the most important people in the world today, and this is a great place to get her story. The article does a fantastic job painting a picture of what her life is like, what her day to day concerns are, how her management style gets results, and the extremely trying time the world is in financially. As the head of the IMF, Christine is tasked with bringing the reality and depth of the financial crisis to economic leaders all over the world. She’s tough, capable, and decisive, and the article does a great job of talking about her role in a pivotal developmental organization.

Simpson Miller daring to take Jamaica in different direction
The Toronto Star, January 15th

This article discusses some pretty controversial comments made by Jamaican Opposition leader Portia “Sista P” Simpson Miller (not kidding about the nickname). Simpson Miller is making a courageous stand against discrimination of gay and lesbian individuals by arguing that cabinet positions should be decided solely based on merit. For those who don’t know, Jamaica has a long, sordid history of homophobia, and her comments are being met with a great deal of reaction (lots of it negative). So raise a glass to this brave Caribbean political leader who shows the kind of change a woman in power can make.

New Law in Mauritius Raises Profile of Women in Politics
Africa: The Good News, January 19th

Mauritius the “wealthiest, best governed country in Africa” (according to the Globe and Mail), has recently come up with a law that has interesting implications for female political hopefuls in the area. The law, which came into effect January 1st requires that at least one of the three representatives in the local elections (due by April of this year) must be women. This development is being met with celebration by women’s rights groups, who see this as a great way to get more women involved in the upcoming elections. However, many groups are also complaining that women shouldn’t need a “hand up”, and that they already have the tools to compete in what is one of the freest democracies on the continent. Whichever side you agree with, this is certainly an interesting situation to keep one’s eye on as the elections draw near.

The Globe and Mail also reported on this story.

Does the GOP have a problem with women?
The Guardian, January 10th

This article from our friends across the pond (The Guardian) looks at the recent history of the US Republican party, and asks a pressing question; what happened to the female leaders? The article describes the recent dearth of female leaders within the GOP. The analysis is pretty deep and goes into political factors like differing values (Conservative women tend to have more kids, and are sometimes penalized for their pro-life views), and the fact that, although women have shown that they will support female candidates, they tend to skew left in their voting preferences. The article concludes by arguing that the Tea Party may be a source of future female Republican leaders because of its heavy slant towards women in leadership roles. In this way, the author argues that Michelle Bachman, may have done a great deal towards mobilizing conservative women. Definitely a good read.

Female Politicians Inspire Women In India To Pursue More Education, MIT Study Finds
Huffington Post: Women, January 18th

This Huffpost article talks about a new study at MIT about women, political power, and social change. The researchers went to hundreds of villages and tried to determine what kind of educational expectations the parents had for their children, as well as what the kids expected for themselves. Towns with female political leaders (especially in the West Bengal area) were particularly interesting for the researchers. In towns with women in positions of power parents had the same educational expectations for girls and boys, and girls were more than 25% more likely to achieve the same educational standards as the boys in their community. This is a massive improvement over large swaths of India, where equality between girls and boys is rare. The researchers attribute the difference to a role-model effect. In essence, female politicians show everyone that women can lead and take charge effectively, which makes young women strive for more. This is a great example of life imitating art, and shows that even things as daunting as the social fabric of a country can be changed with hard work.

Gabrielle Giffords to resign from Congress
The Globe and Mail, January 22nd

This bittersweet entry marks a down note in the inspiring story of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Gabrielle survived a gunshot wound to the head from an assassination attempt last January. She made a heroic return to Congress for an important vote, and wrote a book with her husband during her hospital stay. She has decided to step down from Congress to fully concentrate on her recovery. We wish nothing but the best for her.

Campaign aims to get more women into politics
HTR News, January 22nd

If you were looking for another group like Equal Voice, you might want to keep an eye on what’s brewing south of the border. Key female leaders of political advocacy groups in the US are coming together to develop a campaign to try to double the number of female Congress members and governors within 10 years. The campaign, entitled Political Parity, hinges on several factors including the voting spike that occurs during presidential election years, and a redrawing of Congressional districts. These factors are seen as giving ambitious women an excellent opportunity to grab a record number of seats. Like Equal Voice they are trying to impress on women the idea that they can and should run in upcoming elections (HTR News cites numbers that indicate that male lawyers are 16% more likely than their female colleagues to consider running). Political Parity’s message is simple; talented women are all over the place, we just need to give them the tools to run.

McEntee: In politics, real women can do it
The Salt Lake Tribune, January 16th

This editorial reiterates a lot of what Equal Voice is all about. It talks about many of the unique concerns that women have with running for office, and argues that the process is not as daunting as it seems. This is an inspiring little read for anyone who feels like they aren’t cut out for the job. Politicians are just people like you and me, and the author goes to great lengths to argue why women should join their ranks in greater numbers.

GQ Doesn’t Think There Are Too Many Powerful Women in DC
Jezebel, January 23rd

This piece from the ever-entertaining Jezebel editorializes GQ’s recent selections for the 50 most important people in Washington. Their main complaint is that of the 50 spots, only 8 belong to women, (two of whom share the spot with their husband), while people like former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were left off in favour of much less well known candidates. It’s hard to argue with Jezebel on this one, and they give some great examples of women who deserve a spot. I don’t know too much about American politics, but this is a good read if you like funny, aggressive blogging about women’s issues.

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