In most patriarchal societies, women are often denied access to both honorable and practical roles reserved for men. In such patriarchal settings, males are dominant and exclusively grab the roles such as administration and leadership, and women are not considered to contribute to finalizing a decision.
While such discriminatory practices have existed since primitive times, their prevalence amalgamating with the culture and being considered as norms is what is making societies and countries go in the reverse direction.
Sustainable and all-around development of a society is impossible without the full and unreserved participation of both women and men in the process. Such a balanced development should also entail abolishing all forms of discrimination, protecting women from violence, and offering them opportunities to grow and build.
According to international conventions and treaties, women have been given the right to live with dignity and honor apart from having safe access to health, education and security.
Compared to previous decades, women’s participation in decision-making is expanding globally. Nonetheless, despite modest progress toward women’s engagement in public spheres, it is widely acknowledged that women have primarily stayed outside official leadership roles due to various causes.
The primary elements contributing to the gaps include institutional conditions, unequal socioeconomic prospects, and insufficient access to mentors and support networks.
Additionally, the strict organizational structures and gender stereotypes that associate socially defined attributes with specific groups frequently exclude women from leadership positions.
Factors Impacting Women’s absence in decision making roles
At the worldwide level, women make up 16% of representatives in both chambers of parliament, which is proportionate with trends at the subnational and local levels. They are more underrepresented in high-level decision-making roles, notably as leaders of state and government officers of parliaments and cabinet positions. Women also continue to face challenges in gaining decision-making roles within political parties.
Women’s participation in decision-making can be hampered for a variety of reasons.
One of the primary reasons for the problem that inhibits women’s voices from being heard in government is education, regarded as one of the most important causes among all other aspects.
Girls compelled to stay at home and do domestic chores instead of attending school would have reduced self-esteem, which is one of the reasons for poor political engagement.
Male-dominated nature of politics
Furthermore, in most nations, the male-dominated nature of politics creates a glass barrier for women attempting to enter it. Women must be given more opportunities to speak up in public. It creates a vicious cycle in which the fewer women in politics, the more their needs go unmet, and the more insecure they are, the less likely they are to speak up in government.
Electoral systems have a direct impact on women’s participation in decision-making organizations. Women’s representation is highest in nations with proportional representation systems. Women’s calls for more equality in decision-making are frequently voiced due to PR systems that force parties to balance their election tickets.
Most democratic systems allow only one candidate per district to be nominated; in this case, parties prefer a male candidate. Many other aspects of electoral system design, such as electoral thresholds (the minimum percent of the vote required to obtain a seat in parliament), district magnitude (the number of seats divided by the number of districts), and open versus closed lists in PR systems(the ability of voters to influence the election of candidates within a party list), can affect women’s representation.
Structure of political parties
The structure and organization of political parties might hamper women’s political participation. The influence of women within the party is influenced by the impact of different types of party organizations and their internal procedures, such as clientele parties or patronage-based parties.
Also read: Women Empowerment and Political Decision-making.
Internal procedures in clientele and patronage parties are often poorly defined, and decision-making is dominated by a group of primarily male party elites. As a result of clientelism and patronage politics, it is difficult for women to influence party policies.
Furthermore, rather than perceiving women as decision-makers and leaders, party leaders prefer to see their female members as instruments, using them to secure votes and engage them in lobbying and organizational tasks.
Political parties are the principal “gatekeepers” in determining who will run for elected office. They have a significant impact on whether or not women can participate in decision-making bodies.
Women confront several challenges throughout the selection process (in which the party selects candidates for election). Men are frequently considered more viable and better candidates than women, and they are given preference.
Furthermore, men dominate the pool of candidates from which political parties select candidates, such as trade union executives and local councilors. Even when women have the qualities that make them strong candidates, they are frequently discouraged from pursuing the position.
Women are also less likely to run for office because they believe they lack the requisite skills. They sometimes shy away from party politics in favor of less structured, more goal-oriented social movements.
Various issues may hamper women from pursuing decision-making positions even after being selected as candidates. This can include a lack of financial support and time for campaigning due to challenges combining work and family life, a lack of confidence in necessary abilities, and fewer links to politically relevant networks.
Furthermore, the environment of political institutions is not ‘gender-friendly,’ discouraging some women from considering a career in politics, such as sitting times in parliaments, political party meeting schedules, and the lack of childcare facilities.