sexta-feira, 25 de junho de 2010

Gender: No guarantee PM's sex will advance women's issues

Sidney - (SMH, 25/6/10) THE arrival of Australia's first female Prime Minister in unlikely to herald a transformation in federal government policies, several academics cautioned yesterday.

''Sometimes we can have strange expectations that because women assume leadership positions, they ought to automatically be focusing more on gender issues and I don't think that makes a lot of sense when you think about what it takes for a woman to get to the top in politics,'' said Sarah Maddison, an associate professor in politics and government from the University of NSW.

History shows little correlation between female political leaders and the advancement of policies or laws that benefit women - such as equal pay and protection from domestic violence.
Former leaders, such as the New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, the Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri and the Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, placed women's issues in the background.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel, dubbed the ''Iron Frau'', has focused on economic policy, healthcare and energy development.

Margaret Thatcher, British prime minister from 1979 to 1990, almost went out of her way not to help women during her tenure, said a University of Queensland political science expert, Rae Wear.

''What women leaders do for women is make the statement that women are entitled to be there as central players in politics. They act as role models, as examples, rather than actively seeking to advantage women,'' Dr Wear said.

''It's more just the sense that a lot more is possible for women and a sense of representation of the wider community.''

Political context and institutional frameworks have often created expectations for women to behave the same as men in politics and ''give as good as they get''. Many women leaders worked their way up through tough, male-dominated political parties and do not suddenly break with party line, or personality, to advocate gender issues,'' Dr Wear said.

''They're in institutional frameworks shaped over many generations and they adapt to those frameworks rather than actually changing the institution.''

Progress on women's issues instead tends to be driven by women in bulk and are ''whole-of-government issues'', said Dr Janice Dudley, a politics lecturer from Murdoch University.
A party of strong women such as Penny Wong and Nicola Roxon will have more effect than a female prime minister, she said.

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