I’ve been doing some more research on gender equity and representation. Out of curiosity I had wanted to compare the United State’s level of gender parity to the rest of the world, but in the process came across a very interesting article in the Guardian (emphasis mine):
In 2010, Senegal’s gender parity law came into force, which requires political parties to ensure that at least half their candidates in local and national elections are women. The law is viewed by many as a necessary step to force change in a country with complex gender dynamics, influenced by traditional customs and beliefs, Islam and French colonialism. More than half of Senegal’s 12.5 million population is female and although women have long organised at a local level, forming co-operatives and associations to improve access to public services, this has not translated easily into power at parliamentary level.
I had never heard of a law like this, but I really think it’s something to watch. The legislation doesn’t require the election of women to a national or local position but does make it a responsibility of the party to find and field women in half of their political campaigns. That’s the opportunity that many capable and dynamic women need and desire. They don’t want you to open the door for them, they just wish you’d stop blocking the way.
And now it appears that laws like these are trying to spread to other African countries. If you have a few minutes (about ten) I recommend you watch the documentary “30%” — detailing the struggle of female activists in Sierra Leone fighting for 30 percent representation in parliament. You can watch the full documentary on Youtube here. I’ve posted the trailer below.