Feminists, Politics, and Representation

By Kristen Johnson

On Tuesday, U.S. voters will have the opportunity to elect the first female Presidential candidate, and the opportunity to vote in more female senators! Of the nine most competitive seats open this year, women have a chance of winning in 5 of those spots. More importantly, if Democrats win in just 4 of those spots (5 if Hillary Clinton loses the election), they will control the Senate. Currently, women still have a long, long way to go to achieve equality in politics (at present women make up 20% of the Senate, and a little less than 20% of the House) – but we’re moving in the right direction at any rate. (NBC News).

What might happen if our country elects more women to office? Can they change politics, and make a change for the better? I’d like to think the answer is a resounding yes.

Research also suggests that female legislators are incredibly effective: On average, they bring 9 percent more federal spending to their home district, and sponsor three more bills per Congress, compared to their male colleagues.

This may be because women may need to be work twice as hard to overcome gender bias and to get to Congress in the first place, according to a study in the American Journal of Political Science. (ThinkProgress.org)

Since women make up 50% of the population, wouldn’t it be nice to be represented by women? Perhaps, as suggested in the study above, hard work provided by women will get things done more effectively. (It’s not like Congress is presently doing a fabulous job!)

I was able to find a wide range of examples of the changes that women make when they work as elected officials, but my favorite was in Sweden:

The Swedish ministry is 52% female and their Parliament is 43% women. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that Sweden is regularly held up as an example of a paradise for working women. Their public benefits assume a dual-income family where both men and women are working and contributing at home, and as a result they have the among the highest female employment in the E.U. and almost the lowest child poverty. Both parents are entitled to 16 months of paid family leave (to be divided as a couple), with 13 months of that leave paid at 80% of their income and the rest at a flat rate. Compare that with U.S. policies, where the absence of paid family leave causes enormous stress for women and families, and often leads women to drop out of the workforce altogether. (Time Magazine).

This feminist will continue to work hard to fight for our rights, and to elect more women to office. Ladies who are brave enough to run for office in this male-dominated world – you completely inspire me and I wish I was more like you.

Joshua 1:9 )NRSV):  I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io

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