Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Excluded from influence or power by gender?

For over a century, various attempts have been made to close the gender gap and achieve gender balance on elected bodies. There has been some success. The percentage of women members of the world’s most equal parliaments gives encouragement. For instance, Rwanda has 56% and Sweden 46%. In Scotland the figure is 35%.

In 1893 New Zealand became the first nation in the world to grant universal, male and female adult suffrage. In 1928 the UK government passed the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act giving the vote to all women over the age of 21. From the late nineteenth century, women already had the franchise in local government, school boards and health authorities. Their successful performance there won widespread support for the parliamentary vote.

In the UK as a whole, the record is pitiful. Successive goverments have failed. Political parties have failed. However, this is an area where individuals acting in concert can succeed. Every time an election takes place to fill a vacancy on any panel, list, or group which has less than 50% female members, just vote for the qualified female candidates. This can be applied to Parliaments, local authorities, management boards, leaderships, short-lists, everything and anything.

And don't stop doing this until the pendulum swings the other way and men are in the minority.