By Thea Voutiritsas
Just four short months ago, women in Saudi Arabia were able register to vote for the first time in Saudi history. The elections this month will be the first opportunity for women to vote since the late King Abdullah signaled a greater role for women in politics in 2011. About 900 women are now campaigning for public office. Despite this great stride, women will only be participating in elections at the municipal level. The country remains an absolute monarchy, and Saudi women are still forbidden to drive and travel without a male guardian. The role of women in Saudi is changing fast, and this is an exciting and historic time for women all over the world. For more developments on this story, visit CNN.
By Matiara Huff
Official Portrait of Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Maria Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954 in the Bronx. Her come to New York from Puerto Rico. Her mother Celina Baez served in the Women’s Army Corps and worked as a telephone operator and later a practical nurse. Her father who only had a third grade education and didn’t speak English worked as a tool and die worker. Today she is the first and only Latina women in the Supreme Court.
Sotomayor did her undergrad at Princeton on a full ride scholarship, and went to grad school at Yale Law School also on a full scholarship. While there she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. While at both schools she advocated for the hiring of Latino faculty. Throughout her career, Sotomayor has made many notable rulings for cases dealing with racial discrimination, Lawsuits against Federal Contractors, Abortion, and many more. Her decision will forever impact this country, on many occasion she has proven that she doesn’t take that for granted.
By Amber Charleville
Some of you may know that one of my passions is female representation in the media. Media is powerful, and it is not only a reflection of us in the now but also influences how we move forward. This video, made by the same folks who did Miss Representation, shows the highs and lows of the year for women in the media.
It’s a powerful glimpse at how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.
By Morgan Paul.
I was writing a journal assignment for class the other day and, as I was writing, I remembered a film I watched my junior year of high school in Women’s Studies: Iron Jawed Angels. As we continue to fight for gender equity, we cannot forget each battle that we have won.
When I took my high school Women’s Studies class I had no idea what I was getting into. I knew that women couldn’t always vote, but I did not know what a fight it truly was. I didn’t know about the hunger strikes and wrongful arrests. I didn’t know about the risks these women took and the women who actually opposed getting these basic rights.
It’s crazy how times change and history gets left in the past. I recall asking one of my history teachers why we never get the Native American perspective on the beginnings of the United States of America, or the African perspective on slavery; he told me “because the winners write history.” But if that’s true then shouldn’t the women’s suffrage movement be taught in every American History class? Unfortunately our male-dominated society made sure that didn’t happen. Women won, but we don’t write the history books. We have not won that battle yet.
If you need something to inspire you to continue fighting your own battles, or just a wonderful movie to watch, I suggest Iron Jawed Angels. This film is beautifully done and incredibly empowering.
Image via Blacklooks.org
By Lakhvir Kaur
I recently read an article about how it has been twelve years, since Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria has become democratic. However, women are still considered secondary in male dominated politics. The country has made some progress in increasing the number of women in politics, but change is relatively gradual. The National Center for Women Development showed that there were 9 female senators out of 109, compared to 4 in 2003. Also, there were 26 female members in the House of Representatives out of 360, compared to 23 in 2003. Between 2006 and 2009, 2 women were appointed to the Supreme Court bench, while female Deputy Governors increased from 2 in 2003 to 6 in 2007.This data shows that while change is possible it is slow and not enough to make a significant difference.
According to a writer, who was questioning why a woman would bother running, “Nigeria is a male-dominated, chauvinistic country stifled by culture, tradition and social rankings that make the Indian caste system look feeble.” Coming from Indian background, I totally understand the seriousness of this statement. I have witnessed the poor condition of lower caste where they are not paid according to their labor and are compelled to work under high caste. This not only deprives them from good education but also leads to poor finances. Not to mention they don’t have much of a voice in what goes on in their own country, much like the women of Nigeria.
Just as in many other countries, including the U.S., gender inequality still exists in Nigeria. There are things that need to change to improve the lives of women and having a say in their politics is a good place to start.
Despite the fact that women make the majority of the population and the majority of voters, women’s roles in politics are still really small. The important thing to notice here is if women can’t participate in politics then who will bring change in the lives of women?
Image from NOW.org
By Kristina Gardner
I recently found this article in USA Today about the political institution in the United States and how women are only represented by 17% in Congress and that number is declining. It shocked me that out of the 186 countries on the list we ranked 90th for representation of women in our political system. Believe it or not, even developing countries, and countries that are not even known for equality or human rights like Rwanda, Uganda, Tajikistan, South Africa and Cuba, ranked higher than us. I find this completely ridiculous, in a well-developed country, which has fought for women’s rights and is known for being more accepting, that we still don’t have as many women in our political system as we should. Schmitz also says that, “In fact, the total number of female congressional representatives could well decline for the first time in three decades.” The article also talks about how women only make up 17% of Congress, but make up about 51% of the population; definitely not equal representation.
What can we do? Encouragement! Encourage women to run of Congress, encourage women to run for local government. Support websites like the two they listed (sheshouldrun.org and runningstartonline.org.) And most importantly vote! Make sure your voice is heard. In a country that strives for equality, we need to see more women speak up and be representatives for 51% of the population. Majority rules, right?
By Vinesha Rice
Image from Flickr
For some time now, men have been the perpetrators of most of the political sex scandals reported by the media. In an article posted in the New York Times, Michigan Representative Candice Miller raised an intriguing point: “Female politicians rarely get caught up in sex scandals.” If you take a moment to think about this, you’ll notice that there is some truth to this statement. These scandals may just be instances of men behaving badly and the media taking advantage of a public figure misbehaving. But the fact remains, women are less likely to get caught in these situations.
The article suggests an interesting difference between men and women in politics: “women run for office to do something, and men run for office to be somebody… Women run because there is some public issue that they care about, some change they want to make… and men tend to run for office because they see this as a career path.” Women respect the power that their political position gives them to make change happen; therefore, they are less likely to do something that would remove them from that position or diminish that power. Some men, however, see political power as a personal tool and way to get ahead. Although, this idea should not be generalized to all men in politics (and I’m sure there are many well-meaning, crusaders-for-the-good, male politicians out there) this statement speaks to power differences between men and women. Men in political office (as well as other high powered careers) automatically have power. Women in political office (or other high powered career), have to prove it. As the article suggests, women in powerful positions still have to prove that they are qualified for the position they hold. They have to work harder and make careful decisions because of the constant scrutiny and the expectation to fail. This makes women more conscious of what other’s think about them; therefore, they are less likely to do anything embarrassing or scandalous.
What this can also mean is that women in powerful political positions make more careful and conscious decisions; thus making them better decision-makers. Some men in politics, as the recent news has shown, have clearly made some bad decisions lately. And aren’t these folks supposed to be making important decisions on our beahlf as our public servants? So when it comes to our public interests, wouldn’t you rather have someone in place that respects her political power and makes careful, conscious decisions, than someone whose loose consideration for the power he holds can result in bad decisions that can land him in the middle of an embarrassing sex scandal that ultimately distracts him from doing the job he was elected to do?