Increase in Women in Parliament, Glass Ceiling Remains
A survey by Independent on Sunday revealed that women are winning a growing number of seats in parliaments throughout the world, although they still hold far fewer legislative and key cabinet positions than men.
Anne-Marie Goetz, a governance specialist at UN Women, clarified, "In most countries there has been stubborn resistance to fair competition by women for prominent positions in public decision-making. The only known means to overcome that has been the use of quotas." Twenty-one of the 25 countries in which women make up over 30 percent of the parliament have used a positive quota system of inclusion. Although Goetz noted that quotas are controversial, she stated that the resulting increases in women's parliamentary presence have "become self-sustaining."
Yifat Susskind, executive director of Madre, an international human and women's rights group, pointed out that women parliamentarians expand the scope of issues debated. For example, in Afghanistan, women members of parliament helped to bring the potential closure of women's shelters to international attention. Women's influence is also needed in peace talks, Goetz noted, where they "contribute to the sustainability of the peace."
In both Iceland and South Africa, women control almost the same number of parliamentary seats as men. In the Rwandan parliament, women are the majority, holding 56 percent of Rwanda's lower house and 35 percent in the upper house. By contrast, the United States ranks 72 of 188 nations for gender parity in government. In the United Kingdom, tied with Uzbekistan for 53rd, less than one in four members are women.
Media Resources: The Independent 3/6/11; Interparliamentary Union Website 3/8/11
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .