Women Political Under-Representation

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Does The Claim That Women Are Politically 'Under-Represented' Rely On An Implausible Theory Of Political Representation?

Does The Claim That Women Are Politically 'Under-Represented' Rely On An Implausible Theory Of Political Representation?


Politics in Thailand, as in many other societies, remains one of the firmest bastions of male dominance. Two of the questions frequently asked concerning the under-representation of women in public office are: What difference does it make? What are the reasons for the paucity of women in politics? Many factors help shape the structure of opportunities for women's representation in elective office in Thailand, including the role of structural barriers, the impact of political culture, and the importance of social relations. In addition to these factors, the differences in how men and women politicians define and perceive politics restrict women's advancement in political life.

Why Women? Why Politics?

Many years ago when I first studied the issue of women in politics, I was asked repeatedly by a host of people, both men and women, but mostly women, why should women be bothered with politics. The questioners varied in background and disposition. Some were honestly curious and wanted to know, while others were annoyed at the subject matter for different reasons. One line of thinking argued that since politics was considered 'dirty' and not 'honorable', women should steer clear from it. Another line of thinking believed that society should adhere to the division of labor by allowing men to dominate the public sphere while women should devote themselves to caring, nurturing and properly socializing children. Others thought that women have enough 'duties' and responsibilities already, and they should not be encouraged to take on more.

Many strides and much progress have been made since then. Although some of the above questions may still be raised from time to time, more women and some men will now argue that women's participation in politics is necessary because society needs to have balanced views on both men and women's needs and requirements. That public policies should be formulated with the interests of both sexes represented. That the allocation of resources has to address the needs of both men and women. We have also learned that women tend to advocate better health, education, environment and other quality of life issues, which represent the 'soft' side of development chat are so critical and yet often neglected. Hence, women's role in public decision making will be invaluable to society as a whole.

Under-Representation of Women in Politics

In Thailand, since the abolition of absolute monarchy in 1932, democratic politics was introduced along with electoral politics which did not exclude women from voting or from becoming candidates for political election. Today, in 2004, more than seven decades later, women are still greatly under-represented at different levels. After the last national election of 2001, only 47 women won seats as members of parliament accounting for 9.2% of all MPs. In the last senate election of 2000, only 21 women out of 115 women candidates were successful in winning ...
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