Contrary to what you might think, women struggle because of gender inequality all around the world. The common belief is that this is the case only in some countries that are not as evolved as the others. However, Crystal Clanton highlights that even northern Europe, which is considered to be the world’s most gender-equal region, reports exactly the same grievances that women have in South America. This is really interesting to notice since women occupy around 40 percent of the political positions in those countries.
Numerous interviews showed that women in politics in the Netherlands and Sweden almost achieved parity in the national parliaments. However, they do share so many challenges. Almost all the women that you talk to, senior, junior, progressive or conservative, feel that there is still much to be done in order to achieve a truly substantive gender equality in politics.
We need to understand the fact that equality is not just in the numbers. When we look at how many women have true visibility as they are in a position of exert influence, numbers are much lower than what is believed.
The Netherlands is a really interesting example when thinking about gender equality since there were mainstreaming efforts carried out ever since the seventies. We are now faced with gender equality as an idea that is firmly installed. Citizens actually do not vote for the parties that do not have roughly gender-equal candidates. This did help but not as much as it should have. We are faced with women being under-represented in decisive parliamentary commissions and ministries. Just 17% of the government ministers in developed countries are women. Heads of state are even rarer.
There Is Much Work To Be Done
Many different stereotypes exert influence. This is especially the case when referring to domestic task divisions. Double-standards and stereotypes influence how women are portrayed in the media. Journalists make different comments on clothing, hair, family, children and so much more. Many of the statements made are never actually made when looking at men.
Changing Public Perception
Changing public perception is really important but this is really hard to do. Political affirmations did not actually make differences in the past. Everyone needs to play his/her part in defying gender roles. However, the big part of the equation is played by women. Mentorship is identified as being the main key to success so women do need mentors.
When looking at the collective level, most women in politics that fight for gender equality agree that women’s organizations and movements, both inside parties and within civil society, are paramount for proper political inclusion. Women need to be given places where to meet and fight for the causes they believe in.
There is no such thing as a paradise for gender equality. We are still at a theoretical point and we have to realize the fact that much work is still needed. Women and men have to fight for true gender equality. This is not something that is going to be really simple to change, as some believe.