Women’s in Politics
Representation and gender: where is British politics?
Who represents women’s interests? Or, better: who should represent women’s interests? The answer is more complicated than what we should expect. Afghanistan
When referring to politics, we need to take into account two types of representation: the descriptive and the substantive one. Descriptive representation analyzes how much political representatives resemble those represented: in the case of women, how many MPs or functions of the same gender are there in parliament. Substantive representation is instead a more complex concept to define, but in general, we can say that it is the ability to represent the interests of a category (or a group of people). As Wa ̈ngnerud said: ‘Female politicians expected to be better equipped to represent the interests of female voters because they […] share the same experience’.
Where is British politics? UK’s Parliament it’s still a place in the hands of men, despite the results of the 2019 general elections, where 220 MPs elected were women: that is 34% of the whole Parliament, the highest absolute and proportional number ever. Women’s in politics.
The image that comes from the mainstream media, gives the picture of a white politician woman, preferably belonging to the middle class. In Great Britain there is still some difficulty in talking about politics, gender, and ethnic minorities. Although female, black, Asian and ethnic minorities (BAME) candidates have increased – in 2015 29.4% of MPs were women, and 6.3% BAME – there is still a great disproportion between the population and parliamentarians. Women’s in politics.
In the UK, women of color make up 14% of the female population, but only 9% of the women in parliament. Therefore they are under-represented by 5%. In addition to this, there is another category that is not represented at all, the one of women with disabilities.
The question of intersectionality in parliament is very important, not only because, as we said before, it returns a more homogeneous image of the population, and allows citizens to recognize themselves in their representatives, also increasing their participation in political life, but also allows them to raise issues and problems that would otherwise find no place on the political agenda. Not because they are less important, but simply ignored due to an internalized and unconscious bias. History of Italy. Women’s in politics.
The UK Labor Party is the one that has been most committed over the years to include women and ethnics minorities, however, there are still problems: the parties often propose two different lists in the constituencies. On the one side, there are the restricted lists for All Women-Shortlist (AWS), on the other side, there are the All-Black-Shortlists (ABS) which do not guarantee the same presence for ethnic minority women, as if the two groups were in conflict. Diane Abbott (first black female parliamentarian) has in fact highlighted how the AWS finalists are only white women. In the case of the Labor Party, the AWS policy ensures that at least one female candidate will be elected in at least one of the districts that the party wins. BAME candidates, on the other hand, are included in shortlists and longlisting internships, but there is no minimum requirement for choosing a minority candidate. (Read More Second World War)
Despite some partial results, the road to a better representation of women in politics is still long. We started this article with some questions, we will not finish giving any answers, but all together we can do a reflection, take the case of Great Britain as a point and try to understand what surrounds us. The Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted gender disparities, not only in parliament but in all work sectors. In the UK, according to the IFS, mothers have 1.5 more chances than fathers of losing their jobs or of being furloughed, they are paid 9% less than men and often have temporary jobs, or zero-hour contracts. The unemployed people belonging to the BAME group have increased by 49k. Things would have been different if they had really taken into consideration the interests of these categories?
Milan, Lombardy, Italy
Note: If there are any suggestions or corrections. Please mail us. Go in the contact section.