11/04/2014

Women in Politics, India & US

Satisfaction with political leaders worldwide stands at 30 percentEighty percent of world's political leaders are men. Coincidence?

Growing up in India and seeing Indira Gandhi as the most visible and top political office holder for 15 years (1966-1984), I felt confident about women's ability to lead in a very complex socio-political world despite the weight of gender expectations and biases in Indian society. I left for US the year after Indira's life ended tragically. Whole of India mourned her death like America did after JFK assasination. Unfortunate riots erupted against the Sikhs in some major cities. [Bio of Indira Gandhi]. The Indian Womanifesto is a 6-point plan critical to the freedom and safety, equality and flourishing of India’s women and girls. Watch the meeting of two leaders of World's two largest democracies. [President Obama and PM Modi dialogue, Whitehouse.gov, 9/30/14, Obama's Visit to India 1/26/15]




Women's turnout during India's 2014 parliamentary general elections was 65.63%, compared to 67.09% turnout for men was significant, but women consists only 11% and 11.5% of the members of Lokshabha and Rajyasabha (Lower and Upper House of Parliament) respectively. Things may shift with 25% female ministers in Modi's cabinet. [Source link 1 and link 2]

After seeing some spooky statistics of women in US politics I felt compelled to go out door to door day before midterm election 2014) to encourage people to go out and vote. 

Why Does the US Still Have So Few Women in Office? 

Although Voters individually tend to see candidates through their partisan stereotypes, collectively they support women candidates at the same level that they support male candidates. Compared to India (67%), less than 60% of eligible voters in US vote in Presidential election and only 40% in mid-term election.  Meanwhile Rhode Island and New York moves country closer to eliminating the 'electoral college' system. I am puzzled by the fairness of Electoral college system in the US, since President and Vice President is not elected by National Popular Vote. [Read Free Book ]

Since US history (1776) only 294 women have served congress against 11,813 men [Source]. Something gotta change. Women aspiring to hold political office now can receive support and training from groups like Emergeamerica and Emily's list.

HOW did WOMEN CANDIDATES DO AS OUTLIERS in this Midterm Election.
Many Historic Firsts in this election. There is now a solidarity movement to address gender equality by HeforShe.org and a commitment supported publicly by Barack Obama, Ban-Ki-moon, Matt Daemon and many other public figures. More on  Men are People too. Staying indifferent and ignorant is being part of the problem.
Sluggish Progress On Women in Politics Will Hamper Development in Africa [Link]