Women have made incredible progress during the last century, but we still have a long way to go. Much further, in fact, than some of us may realize.
Several studies have been released over the last decade discussing the percentage of women serving in government worldwide. You might be surprised to discover just how low the United States ranks on these lists.
The U.S. ranks #69 among countries with the highest percentage of women in government. Countries that have a higher percentage of women include countries such as Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uganda.Yes, you read that correctly, Afghanistan has a higher percentage of women in government than the US does.
More below the fold.
The United States ranks 80th in the percentage of women serving in government at the congressional (parliamentary) level. However, if you exclude all the nations who rank as "tied", we actually rank much lower than that.
And which nations rank above the US? Eritrea, Sudan, and even Iraq, are on the list.
Rwanda tops the list, with women making up 49% of Parliament in Rwanda. Here's a partial list of current national rankings:
1. RwandaAs Senator Gillibrand points out in her excellent diary, women make up 51% of the population in the United States, but only make up 17% of Congress.
8. South Africa
25. New Zealand
40. South Sudan
45. Canada (tied)
57. United Kingdom
62. Bosnia and Herzegovina
76. United Arab Emirates
80. United States of America
There are 195 countries in the world, and yet, only 11 countries have elected a woman to serve as head of state. The United States, of course, is not among those 11 nations.
And at the Congressional level? 2010 was the first year since 1987 that women made no progress in raising the percentage of women elected to Congress.
Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives, bringing an end to Represenative Nancy Pelosi's historic leadership role as the first woman Speaker of the House.Women aren't just under-represented at the congressional level. We are under-represented at ALL levels of government.
3 women committee chairs—Rep. Louise Slaughter on the Rules Committee, Rep. Nydia Velazquez on the Small Business Committee, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren on the Standards of Official Conduct Committee—will also lose their leadership positions as the Democrats become the minority party in the House.
The number of women serving in the Senate will remain level at 17. The number of women serving in the House of Representatives will drop for the first time since 1979.
10 incumbent Democratic Congresswomen lost their seats. No Republican women in the House lost their seats. One incumbent woman Senator lost her seat.
Women constituted 54% of voters in the 2008 elections, but only 24% of state legislators.The percentage is even smaller when it comes to women of color:
Only 22% of all statewide elective executive office positions are currently held by women.
Only 6 out of 50 states have a female governor.
On average, male cabinet appointees outnumber women cabinet appointees in our states by a ratio of 2 to 1.
Women of color represent only 4% of Congress.Why are American women still under-represented in government? According to a US News report from June, and reports from the WCF Foundation, there are several reasons.
Of the 89 women serving in the 112th US Congress, 24 are women of color.
From those, 13 are African American, 7 are Latina, 4 are Asian American and none are Native American.
Of the 68 women serving in statewide elective executive offices 10, or 14.7% are women of color.
Women of color constitute just 4.7% of the 7,382 state legislators.
The top three women who enjoyed incumbency advantage in 2008 raised approximately $33 million—$16 million less than the total for the top three male incumbents.2. Redistricting appears to target female candidates more often than male candidates.
In highly competitive races, the gap between the top-raising female and male U.S. Senate challengers in 2008 was almost $14 million (Senator Kay Hagan raised $8.5 million and Al Franken $22.5 million), which is $8 million more than the difference in 2006.
Male U.S. House incumbents raised on average $196,281 more than women in 2008.
When lines are redrawn, women often bear the brunt of it. Is it deliberate? Palmer and Simon said they aren't sure, but the numbers don't look good. Talking Points Memo recently gave the example of North Carolina, where 10 of 25 Democratic women lawmakers were either forced into a district with another incumbent, or redrawn into a primarily Republican district.3. Incumbency
Men were in office before women, and once a person is in office, they have serious advantages for reelection. Usually, the most "winnable" seats are already held by men.4. Less media coverage.
According to the Daily Beast, in media reports on women's issues—like abortion and birth control—men are quoted some five times more than women are. And that affects the coverage of women in politics. "We've come a long way. ... But it's still husbands and hemlines," Palmer said. The "war on women," hasn't helped.5. Stereotypes
Voters can take some of the blame, said Palmer, as many people automatically assume that a female candidate will be better on social issues—like women's rights or education, and a male candidate will be better on hard issues—like defense and the economy.6. Women often choose to run later in life.
That's only recently started to change. Palmer says that only eight women have ever had babies while in Congress, and half of those were in the last five years.There is no quick fix. We will have to work very hard in the years to come to raise the percentage of women working in government. In the short term, however, we need to donate (if you can), volunteer, and vote!
Tammy Baldwin - Wisconsin
Shelley Berkley - Nevada
Maria Cantwell - Washington
Dianne Feinstein - California
Kirsten Gillibrand - New York
Heidi Heitkamp - North Dakota
Mazie Hirono - Hawaii
Amy Klobuchar - Minnesota
Claire McCaskill - Missouri
Debbie Stabenow - Michigan
Elizabeth Warren - Massachusetts
Women - both as candidates and as voters - are key in this election. Not only are we fighting to re-elect the President, we are fighting tooth-and-nail to retain control of the Senate. Republicans only need to gain 4 seats to gain control of the Senate.
The number of women running for Congress this year is higher than ever before, according to research.And if enough Democrats get out and vote, we may even have a shot at regaining control of the House.
Analysis of female candidates in the upcoming election shows 295 so far have filed for seats in the House of Representatives, with another due to file in August. The previous record of 262 was set in 2010.
Women are also on track to break the record for the number of who have won their nomination battles, according to the non-partisan 2012 Project and the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP).
One hundred and thirteen women have already won their primaries, at a time when over half of the states have had primaries. The previous record, in 2004, was 141.
There remains a large disparity in the political make-up of those running, however. Democrats have filed in much greater numbers – 185 compared to 110 Republican women – and have also won their nominations at a higher rate, 85 Democrats to 28 Republicans.
Debbie Walsh, director of CAWP, described the results as “encouraging”. If the pattern continued, Walsh said, she could envisage a post-election America where women made up 20% of the House, compared to 17% now.
In district after district, seats that were supposed to remain safely in the GOP column have become competitive; swing districts are tilting more sharply to Democrats; and it's not a stretch now to imagine the Democrats holding on to the White House, extending their majority in the Senate and winning enough seats in the House to flip it back to Democratic control.A majority of women polled support Obama and the Democratic Party.
In the Pew Research Center’s most recent national survey, conducted March 7-11, Obama led Mitt Romney by 20 points (58% to 38%) among women voters. It marked the second consecutive month that Obama held such a wide advantage over Romney among women (59% to 38% in February). In both February and March, Obama ran about even with Romney among men.And this isn't a new trend. (Which could be part of the reason the GOP is so hostile towards women).
The gender gap in 2008 – the seven-point difference between women and men in support for the Democratic candidate – was comparable to the gap in most elections since 1980. Even when Democratic candidates failed to garner a majority of the women’s vote – as in 1980, 1984 and 1988 – they still drew more support from women than from men.And support for Obama and the Democrats among women under 65 is even higher! Obama leads by 31% among women between 18 and 50. He leads by 22% among women age 50 to 65.
And just in case you need some extra incentive to GOTV, I'll give you an idea of what a Republican controlled Senate would look like.
Foreign Relations Committee:
Current Chairman: John Kerry
Potential Replacement: Sen Bob Corker, R-TN
Not only doesn't he like laws, he doesn't seem to like our allies too much, either. Which could be a problem if he serves as head of the Foreign Relations Committee!
It is not really our country so much is the problem, it's sort of the parasitic relationship that Canada, and France, and other countries have towards us ~ Sen. Bob Corker.Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP):
Current Head: Sen. Tom Harkin
Potential Replacement: Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN
Sen. Alexander was, of course, opposed to the Affordable Care Act, and would like to see it repealed. As for education, Time actually published an article about Sen. Alexander's desire to "kill education reform," in 2011.
Let's start with the Alexander bill. It wouldn't eliminate the Department of Education, but it would significantly curtail federal involvement in education policy. Under Alexander's plan, federal funds would be combined into a few large programs and school accountability would be left to the states except for the lowest-performing 5% of schools. The bill would not only undo George W. Bush's education reforms, but many of Bill Clinton's as well....Sen. Alexander also claims the Affordable Care Act results in students being "overcharged".
The Alexander bill...would allow schools in the middle of the pack in terms of performance, including suburban schools where groups of minority or low-income students lag behind, to be overlooked by state accountability systems.
Recently, some politicians have made the case that the new law is being paid for in part by using the savings created when Congress took private banks and the subsidies they received out of the business of making guaranteed loans to students.Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee:
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the Secretary of Education under the first President Bush, took to the Senate floor in May to claim, "We are overcharging students . . . by $8.7 billion to pay for the health care law."
Current Head: Joe Lieberman (okay, not so great)
Potential Replacement: Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK (much, much worse)
Coburn is a fiscal and social conservative, known for his opposition to deficit spending and pork barrel projects and for his leadership in the pro-life movement. He supports term limits, gun rights and the death penalty and opposes gay marriage. In the Senate, he is known as "Dr. No" for his tendency to place holds on and vote against bills he views as unconstitutional.Sen. Coburn, a former physician, is also severely homophobic and completely delusional:
You know, Josh Burkeen...he was telling me lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom (at a time). Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us? ~ Sen. Tom Coburn, 8/31/04Yes, think about it - think about someone that crazy heading up the Homeland Security Committee!
But the most alarming potential change IMHO:
Environment and Public Works Committee:
Current Head: Sen. Barbara Boxer
Potential Replacement: Sen. James Inhofe, R-OK
Yes, Sen. Jim Inhofe, a notorious climate change denier, who believes global warming is a UN plot, and that only Jesus could cause climate change, would chair the committee overseeing environmental issues!
In a speech given to the US Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works on July 28, 2003, entitled "The Science of Climate Change", Senator James Inhofe (Republican, for Oklahoma) concluded by asking the following question: "With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phony science, could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people?" He further stated "some parts of the IPCC process resembled a Soviet-style trial, in which the facts are predetermined, and ideological purity trumps technical and scientific rigor." Inhofe has suggested that supporters of the Kyoto Protocol such as Jacques Chirac are aiming at global governance.Inhofe actually wrote a book about his Global Warming conspiracy theory:
In a radio interview with Voice of Christian Youth America, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) argued that his belief that global warming is a hoax is biblically inspired. Promoting his book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, Inhofe told interviewer Vic Eliason on Wednesday that only God can change the climate:
"Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that “as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."
I know it's become something of a cliche to claim that each election is the most important of our lifetime, but honestly, this election really is that important. We can't afford to allow the Republicans to regain either the Presidency or control of the Senate.
If you care about women's rights, human rights, the environment, healthcare, education, the economy - then GOTV.
Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:35 AM PT: Thank you for rescuing the diary!