Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 12, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on April 12, 2019

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Kakenya Ntaiya, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo of Belgium, Heidi Hartmann, Melanne Verveer, and Hanna Kristjansdottir at American University College of Law this week
Dear friends,
It was a real pleasure to attend two great event this week in Washington, DC. On Wednesday the Washington College of Law at American University and the Institute for Women's Policy Research hosted a terrific event with gender equality experts (pictured above) who gathered to discuss the new book by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander de Croo entitled The Age of Women: Why Feminism Also Liberates Men:

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Rep Rashida Talib & Susannah Wellford - founder & president of Running Start
The night before Susannah Wellford joined me for an event hosted by the Patriotic Millionaires and the Women Donors Network. There were a lot of fabulous people there including Donna Hall, Erica Payne, Jay Newton-Small, Rep Katie Porter, Rep Deb Haaland, and Rep Rashida Talib who posed for the photo above!
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The Courage to Run 5k is happening tomorrow in Washington, DC and in cities across the nation - many thanks to the amazing Frieda Edgette for bringing together so many of us to support such a great cause!  Register here if you haven't done so already!! And share your #CouragetoRun5K photos on social media!
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I am always interested to find examples of the private sector pushing for gender balance - here is one such story from the Arab News about a new effort by the Bank of Palestine to use gender quotas to ensure gender equality:
The Bank of Palestine says its board will have a fifty-fifty gender split within a couple of years — and its chairman has called for Norway-style quota systems for women in top management positions across the Middle East.
 
Hashim Shawa, group chairman of the Bank of Palestine, said 44 percent of the bank’s entire workforce are women, and that the board is on track for an equal divide.
“We will be the first bank I think in the Middle East and Arab world, and maybe one of the first in the world, to have a 50-50 quota at the board level. And that will be in the next board elections, which will be in a couple of years,” he said at the World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan.
 
“About 10 years ago, I looked at the workforce gender balance and we were at 12 percent female … no women on the board, no women in senior positions, managers, departments, or executive levels.
 
“Today we have three women out of 11 on the board, we’re about 44 percent gender balanced, and we have women branch managers, women heads of department. In the C-suite, our chief credit officer, risk management, chief of HR (are) women.”
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A number of women's organizations in India have written a terrific letter to candidates in advance of the election urging a commitment to gender equality according to this piece on The News Minute - elections are being held this month:

We are women and it is important to us that parties and candidates demonstrate their commitment to gender equality through:

  • Gender parity in nominations and appointments;
  • No nominations for those accused or charge-sheeted for gender-based and sexual violence;
  • Zero tolerance for misogynistic speech;
  • Meaningful and respectful inclusion of women in public affairs, including policy decision-making;
  • Gender transformative rather than gender stereotype driven manifesto commitments.

A commitment to gender equality is a commitment that, in making policy, you will recognise gendered vulnerability; resilience and agency; and that your work will be informed by women’s and minority narratives.

Physical safety is important to us but we do not want to hear about how you will protect us. We want:

  • Full utilisation of funds allocated to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, and transparent accounting for the same;
  • A law to address gender-based violence arising from caste rivalry and conflict;
  • Support services and structures for women who suffer domestic violence and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence;
  • Sensitive, meticulous and time-bound investigation into cases of sexual and gender- based violence;
  • Commitment to ending impunity and rape culture, and universalising access to justice.

We are deeply concerned about the erosion of our livelihood rights, which also impinge on our right to equality. All workers, formal and informal sectors, should enjoy these rights:

  • The right to work with dignity and self-respect, irrespective of family and marital status;
  • The right to safe, humane and equal workplaces that provide for transparent grievance redressal;
  • The right to infrastructural facilities that meet women’s needs;
  • The right to unionise and collective bargaining;
  • The right to a living wage and social security;
  • The right to gender-equal training for work free of stereotypes.

In the spirit of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, all workplaces should be required to create awareness among employees about their rights as workers. In the informal sector, this should be the responsibility of the local administration.

A minimum wage, universal health benefits and maternity and child care support should be available to all working women.

We would like to see the establishment of labour welfare boards that are dedicated to the rights and needs of unorganised workers. This board should oversee entitlements, allowances and benefits, and grievance redressal systems, ensuring representation of independent, non-party trade unions.

These elections are critical for us as women and as citizens. We are clear about the India we want. We urge you as candidates to demonstrate your commitment to the constitution through your actions and choices.

Anyone want to sign a similar letter for candidates in the US? I will write the first draft!
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There was a good update from Bloomberg Politics on women's representation in Japan after the recent elections -  Japan ranks behind 164 nations for women's representation:

Women won just 10.4 percent of the seats up for grabs in Japan’s regional assembly races yet still recorded a record high, Kyodo News said, highlighting the slow pace of improvement for gender equality in the country’s government.

Results from the Sunday’s nationwide elections show that politics remains one of the most male-dominated fields in Japan -- which ranks 165 of 193 countries in terms of political representation for women, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The percentage of women in prefectural assemblies is now roughly in line with Japan’s lower house of parliament, which also stands at just over 10 percent. The results come almost a year after the government passed a non-binding bill urging political parties to field equal numbers of men and women candidates “as far as possible.”

Elections in Israel this week did not improve women's representation in fact that nation has now dropped to 76th worldwide for women's representation according to this story in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

If nothing big changes in the coming days, the new Knesset will have the same number of women as the last: 29 out of 120. That puts Israel 76th internationally in terms of women’s representation in government, down from 66th in 2015.

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In contrast, Ethiopia has made tremendous progress toward parity in the last year according to this story in AfricaNews:

Women have been at the centre of Ahmed Abiy’s reign in a country which has long been considered as a patriarchal society.

Aside from his political reforms, he has taken great steps in promoting gender parity within the Ethiopian government, appointing women to top level positions in the country.

Abiy, first Oromo prime minister who was appointed in April 2018 after the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn indicated that women were “less corrupt” and stand a better chance to advocate for peace in a country which has been plagued by unrest for years.

I assume many of you are on the list for updates from Politico Women written by Elizabeth Ralph - click here to sign up. Here is an excerpt from this week:

AND THEN THERE WERE THREE. This week, Kirstjen Nielsen stepped down as secretary of homeland security — President Donald Trump reportedly blamed her for the surge in migrants crossing the southern border. This leaves just three women with cabinet level jobs in the Trump administration — Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Education Secretary Betsy Devos and CIA chief Gina Haspel.

This is the lowest number in decades. The last time only three women served concurrently in cabinet-level positions was under President George H.W. Bush. Bill Clinton holds the record high, with nine women serving concurrently in cabinet-level positions at one point during his second term. (Barack Obama holds the record for total female appointees: 10.) Women have never achieved gender parity at the top level of the executive branch. See the data here

The first woman in any president's cabinet was Frances Perkins, who was appointed by FDR and became the longest-serving labor secretary in history. Perkins was a key architect of the New Deal, and made the cover of Time in 1933.

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Finally, mark your calendars for the She the People Presidential Forum on Wednesday, April 24th & look for the broadcast on MSNBC! Many thanks to Jessica Byrd, Aimee Allison and to all those who organized this event!

Warmly,
Cynthia
P.S. Andrea Dew Steele, founder & president of Emerge America & Heidi Hartmann, founder & president of the Institute for Women's Policy Research both announced they are stepping down this week - please join me in sending warm, appreciative thoughts their way via email, Twitter, or old-fashioned hand written notes.
Many, many, (many) thanks Andrea & Heidi! 💜
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