Belinda Goldsmith writes for Reuters, excerpts pertaining Bolivia follow:
ANALYSIS-Violence, “old boys’ clubs” put women off life in politics but at what cost?
* Women hold less than a quarter of parliamentary seats globally
* Wide recognition that women MPs put other issues in spotlight
* Quotas have pushed up numbers but still lagging global goals
* Political parties urged to do more to bring in women
By Belinda Goldsmith
LONDON, Oct 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Faced with escalating violence, a lack of funding, and locked out of male-dominated networks, many women are reluctant to enter politics with growing concerns that a drive to get women into power globally is moving far too slowly, experts said.
Only about one in four parliamentarians worldwide is a woman, less than one in five government ministers is female, and the number of female heads of state or government is set to decline this year to 15 from 17, studies show.
Yet it has become widely accepted that when women rule, in local or national politics, it can make a difference, with women putting often over-looked issues like violence against women or women’s empowerment on the agenda.
With the United Nations’ global goals – the Sustainable Development Goals – aiming for women’s equal participation in politics by 2030, female lawmakers and experts on women in politics said it was time to change how politics work.
They said this included ensuring political parties take the lead in recruiting women, women politicians are given support, and parliaments lose their macho image and “old boys’ clubs”.
Silvana Koch-Mehrin, founder of the Women In Parliaments a Global Forum (WIP), a network of women lawmakers, said the number of women in parliaments may have increased but this has not translated into policy change or decision-making powers.
“In some countries the real power circle remains untouched,” Koch-Mehrin told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
”You find many women active in NGOs and other organisations involved in policy but when it comes to going into a political party they refuse because so much time is spent back stabbing and building friendships and less working on policy … They can earn more in business.
“But on the positive side the view women are crucial, for equal opportunity and development for all of society, in both developing and developed countries, is now a mainstream view.”
FIGHTING FOR WOMEN‘S ISSUES
Data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the international organisation of parliaments, shows women held 23.6 percent of seats in 193 parliaments on Sept. 1 this year, up from 17.7 percent a decade ago and 11.8 percent in 1997.
There are no global figures on the number of women in local governments which is seen as a significant gap in knowledge.
But the IPU acknowledges it is disappointing to see women’s participation in parliaments increasing by less than one percentage point a year – more than 120 years since New Zealand became the first country to give women the vote.
“It is moving ahead but too slowly,” said Kareen Jabre, director of the division of programmes at the IPU.
“For women’s presence will often bring to the table issues that were not considered a priority. The first one that comes up is violence against women and particularly domestic violence. The mere fact that women have a voice changes the agenda.”
There is no global study to show the link between women’s political presence and policy changes but some national and thematic studies have indicated positive impact.
For example, research showed when peace processes included women as witnesses, mediators, or negotiators, there was a 20 percent increase in the probability of a peace agreement lasting at least two years.
Individual examples also abound.
The country with the most women in its lower house is Rwanda where women held 61.3 percent of seats. The East African nation found itself composed of 70 percent women after a 1994 genocide. Before that women only held 10-15 percent of seats.
It is followed by Bolivia in Latin America where women hold 53.1 percent of lower house seats then Cuba at 48.9 percent.
But while Bolivia has more women in its national parliament than men, the Andean country has made fewer inroads at local government level where less than 10 percent of mayors are women.
Soledad Chapeton found herself in the firing line after becoming the first female mayor of El Alto, Bolivia’s second city, in 2015 – and says she was lucky not to be in her city hall office last year when an arson attack killed six people.
“It (the fire) was an attack that in our judgment was, and is, plagued with much political interest … it was a nightmare,” Chapeton told the Thomson Reuters Foundation under the watchful eye of her female police bodyguard.
Chapeton, a former congresswoman and daughter of a policeman, said women find it hard to get financial backing to run campaigns and often face personal attacks on social media.
“Several of the women declined to participate afterwards because it’s much easier to attack a woman,” Chapeton said.
“People elected me because I do things differently than how things were done in the past and this gives me strength.”
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Bolivian Thoughts opinion: Given the Genome that states that there is no gender nor race better than the other, there is simply NO room for racism or macho type behavior.
Bolivia is a poor country, and it is inconceivable that women, our 50% of our human capital has not embraced properly, our quest for sustainability and competitiveness with the rest of the world!
We already had a Woman President, we have people like Soledad, we need more!
Bolivia needs to fight and eradicate feminicide once and for all!