Women in U.S. Politics: We’re Tied With Turkmenistan
This article was from earlier this week but I thought it was worth noting, particularly given a) Hillary Clinton has come the closest to being the U.S.’ first woman President and b) the U.S. is tied at 90th place with Turkmenistan with respect to women in national legislature:
This week marks the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.
The AP/Globe reports that only 17% of U.S. congressional seats are held by women, compared with 22% in Europe and 42% in Nordic countries. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, women hold 19% of the seats in national legislatures worldwide. However, the U.S. is tied with Turkmenistan at 90th out of 186 nations examined by the union, which based its percentages on women in the single or lower chamber of the legislature.
In addition, the major U.S. political parties have not nominated a woman for president, although Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton collected 18 million votes in the 2008 Democratic nomination campaign. Women have held the top government positions in “dozens” of nations, including Australia, Argentina, Germany, Great Britain, India, Israel and Turkey, the AP/Globe reports…
And here’s the clincher:
…Among the scheduled speakers is Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, who said Ferraro’s poise and toughness had inspired many women to go into politics.
However, O’Neill described the percentage of women in Congress as “abysmal” and said the United States should be ashamed that it’s one of only seven U.N. members — in company with Iran and Sudan — that hasn’t ratified a 30-year-old women’s rights treaty, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
What is wrong with us? We may not be stoning women in the streets but the statistics should give us pause the next time we lecture someone else about the importance of women’s equality (which includes freedom from sexual violence, something which is still so a part of our culture that we often take our own lack of safety for granted).
It still is somewhat stunning to me that in the U.S., a country that prides itself on equality, democracy and being the world’s lone superpower, we rank near the bottom of the heap when it comes to women in politics and in particular, our inability/refusal to elect a woman to the highest office in the land. Many so-called Third World countries have had women Prime Ministers/Presidents. Unless someone is really willing to argue that the reason we’ve not yet had a woman POTUS is because there are no qualified, electable women anywhere in this whole friggin’ country, one can only conclude that in the year 2010, we still have serious gender/sexism problems. I don’t want oversimplify it by distilling everything down to sexism, but lets be honest, a quick search of YouTube for clips of the 2008 election will reveal a panoply of commentary filled with sexist tripe and the target was not only Hillary Clinton but yes, at times, Sarah Palin also.