Gender Inequality and Differences: Women Role in Political Representation I. INTRODUCTION
The area of gender studies is predominantly a matter of describing, analyzing, and evaluating the power configuration between the male and female populations that exists in various societies. Even the socio-economic dimensions of female population relating to employment, education, health, income, and status are inseparable from women’s access to positions in power structure. A major mechanism of such women’s access to power is their representation in various sources of power such as property and wealth, political and administrative position, education and knowledge, corporate ownership and control, and construction of social norms and perception. Without recognizing women’s representation in these sources of power the understanding of issues or concerns related to gender may remain parochial, prejudiced and often misleading. Power is a fundamental component of gender. In fact, gender has been conceived as the sexual division of power and any major shift in power is likely to include corresponding changes in gender relations (Miller 2001). Despite cultural variations, there is a consistent difference between women’s and men’s gender roles based in power that is access to productive resources and ability to exercise decision-making authority. The power imbalance that defines gender relations influences women’s access to and control over resources their visibility and participation in social and political affairs and their ability to realize their fundamental human rights. However, unlike the common interpretation of social power based on politico-economic parameters the study of gender representation in various realms of power structure including public governance must take into account the socio-cultural determinants of power. It is because while the unequal representation of different classes or income groups is largely shaped by factors such as property ownership, educational achievement, information access, and interest articulation, the condition of gender inequality and under-representation can be reinforced by gender-biased values and customs ascribing women to lower social status and position compared to their male counterparts even within the same race and class. Thus for any comprehensive study on female representation in governance, it is not only crucial to examine economic structure, institutional patterns, education system, legal provisions, and state policy, it is also essential to critically explore gender-related beliefs, norms, and perceptions that exist in various cultures, civilizations, or traditions. How significant is this issue of women political representation in governance? The representation or participation of women in governance is necessary to enhance democracy that requires equal citizenship rights of women; to meet the legitimization challenged posed by women’s distrust in government when they are not represented; to respond to the varying human interests such as women’s unique needs and preferences; to facilitate changes in politics and politics (especially those related to family and sexuality) brought about by women; and to make proper use of human resources comprising both male and female talent pools. In short, women’s representation in governance is essential for democracy, legitimacy, interest articulation, policy change, and human resource supply. It has also been pointed out that without the active participation and representation of women at all levels of decision-making especially in governance, the goals of equality development and peace cannot be achieved. In fact, the interpretation of ‘good governance’ are based on principles such as equal representation of men and women in decision-making positions institutional responsibility and responsiveness to all citizens irrespective of gender and equal opportunity for both men and women in terms of living standards. Despite this significance of...
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