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Only 24% of the world’s parliamentarians are women – Week 1

Women are still treated as secondary issues. It is still far too easy and accepted for leaders to ignore uncomfortable truths. Women, we know, are the first to be affected by war, and the last to be taken into account when it ends

Angelina Jolie speaking at Women In The World in 2015

According to UN Women, across the world only 24% of all national parliamentarians were women (as of December 2018).

This is far too slow an increase from 11.3% in 1995.

Why is this important?

Equality for some is equality for none.

Of course we need to look to improve our own state of affairs (more on that in the coming weeks), but that doesn’t mean forgetting the rest of the world. Decisions in other countries affect us – through war, famine, human rights abuses – and we don’t live in isolation.

Helping improve the lives of us is the right thing to do – equality is the right thing to fight for – but do it if for no other reason than you’ll be better off that way too.

And for the beginners in the room, why is it important to achieve gender parity (I mean, it’s never a bad thing to go back to basics, right?)? Because:

Numerous studies have demonstrated that female legislators are more likely than their male counterparts to sponsor “women’s issue” bills such as education, child-care, and family health legislation.

The Legislative Effectiveness of Women in Congress, Volden, Wiseman, Wittmer, August 2010

And for anyone struggling at this point: why is it important to legislate on women’s issues? Because women are 51% of the population – and usually the half that’s being ignored.

So what can you do about it?

We’re more closely connected than ever before. Your activism and your actions will resonate in other countries, so even if you just start small, start!

If we don’t all contribute then equality really will take as long as the World Economic Forum estimates, and I don’t know about you but I really don’t fancy waiting that long.

The most challenging gender gaps to close are the economic and political empowerment dimensions, which will take 202 and 107 years to close respectively. 

World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2018

Here are some quick (and not so quick), but important wins:

  1. Always, always, always exercise your right to vote. It was hard-won and could be all too easily lost (The Handmaid’s Tale, anyone?). Politicians need to hear your voice to know what to change.
  2. Join the Women’s Equality Party (yes, political messaging from me, clearly I have an agenda). The party is only four years old and already kicking butt; two years in (the 2017 general election) they contested seven seats and won votes in every one.
  3. Find a cause you care about, one that you can fight on, find like-minded friends and stir things up. Take Gina Martin as your inspiration. It took her two years to change the law to make upskirting illegal, but she did it! Find role models like her who are transforming our world. Then become one of them.

Source of #FFF: The Inter-Parliamentary Union, accessed 26 January 2019. Data accurate as of December 2018

What is Feminist Fact Friday?

Read up on what this is all about in my Introduction to #FFF.