Over the years, gender parity has remained one of the critical challenges that developed and developing nations continue to grapple with in the modern era. As a social challenge, gender parity exists between men and women and has been manifested in various facets of the society, especially in education, healthcare, politics, and economy to mention, but a few. However, women have organized forums, established feminism movements and formed an alliance with human rights organizations to fight for gender equality; an aspect that has reduced gender gap in the education and healthcare sectors (Wright 89). Although this marks an important step in promoting equality, gender parity and inequality between women and men remains high in the political arena.
Today, most countries have enacted laws, which promote political equality and fair representation of women in government and this move has increased the number of women elected to hold senior positions in the government and other political dockets. Despite this move, women are under-represented in government and are treated differently and unfairly by their male counterparts in the political power. In most democratic societies, women in government are treated unfairly by their male counterparts; an aspect that has influenced gender disparity and marginalization (Thananithicho 93). In most cases, women in government are denied the chance to contest for senior positions within their political parties on the basis that they lack leadership qualities. Many male politicians fail to vote for women candidates because they believe that women cannot hold senior positions because they are considered as being “weak” in making critical decisions. In the same breath, women in national government are denied the opportunity to head ministries, which are considered powerful and challenging thus fuelling gender stigma (Skaine 45). For instance, male politicians are appointed to head powerful ministries including finance and security, while women politicians are appointed to head “soft” ministries such as education, healthcare and internal affairs.
The media also treat women in power differently than the male politicians. In most cases, the media has concentrated more on women politicians who experience challenges in their private lives than their political profession (Levine 490). For instance, the media portrays women politician as being unfit to hold certain leadership positions in the government, especially when such women are experiencing marriage challenges in their private lives. However, the media tends to paint a positive image and reputation on male politicians who face similar marriage challenges as the women politicians (Rakowski 193). Based on this assertion, it is evident that women in power are treated differently than their male counterparts.
Documented studies affirm that the number of women in national politics is lower than that in local politics. This trend is attributed to several factors including economic, social and cultural constructs. In most democratic societies, national politics is associated with the financial ability and social-economic status of a candidate in the society (Matland 106). As a politician, one is supposed to have resources and adequate money so that to contest and participate in national politics. Many politicians in national politics are men, and they have adequate resources and finance to participate in national politics. However, most women politicians are not financial stable to participate in national politics. Political socialization has prevented women politicians to participate in national politics. As a result of this fact, girls believe that women should not participate in national politics because politics is considered a male affair; an aspect that has reduced the number of women in national politics (Nkuepo 92). In other words, women who feel that they can participate in politics opt to participate in local politics because they lack finance and moral and material support to participate in national politics. Therefore, it is clear that economic, social and cultural factors prevent women from participating in national politics.
Women and men in political power differ in terms of salary, and this disparity has existed for many years. According to the U.S Census Bureau (2012) indicates that the average salary for a female worker is $11, 503 lower than that of a male counterpart (Wallis 67). This trend is replicated in the political arena as male politicians tend to earn high salaries than the female politicians. This variance exists because women are under-represented in the government, and they cannot fight for equality in terms of salary. Additionally, male politicians hold the view that paying women equal or high salary will make men feel intimidated and less authoritative and powerful at the workplace (Smith 477).
Women have an imperative role in national development, and they should fight for equality in all spheres of the society, especially in the political arena (Burden 590). To achieve this fundamental goal, women in power should champion for the enactment of laws and policies, which will increase women representation in the government and promote political equality. Women should build women empowerment movements at the local level, which would support women politicians and fight for equality and inclusion of women in the political arena and other social spheres.
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