"Exhibiting You" - Story

Women Running for Office

Increasing Women's Influence in Politics

By: Mary Anne Zammit
Submitted: 09/13/2008



Mary Anne Zammit


There are times when I stop and think about my career, my aspirations and instantly my mind travels back in the in the past, to the women across the ages, their lives and their dreams. And I must say that we should be grateful to them as our achievements today, were once the dreams of women who in spite of their oppression had the courage to visualize a better life.

It has been a long, long way, and thanks to women s lib and numerous other movements we are now in leadership positions. Also, the right to vote has given sisters the opportunity to get involved in the political scenario. Nowadays, women are also being represented in parliaments and through their presence political agendas are taking different routes and new definitions.

Experience has shown us that women have been instrumental in bringing about issues related to gender violence, trafficking of women and children, parental leave, child care and more equality. Yet, still, I believe that we have not reached gender equality and we need to get more women in parliaments. This could also be due to the political structure itself. For instance, most of the discussions and sessions in Parliaments take place in the evening and often till late, and this will make it hard for women with familial commitments.

The journey there is a long one but not impossible. Campaigning is one of the major roads we have to take. Though campaigning may sound thrilling, it surely has its challenges but it is vitally important for when women see other women engaged in politics they are more likely to vote for women and even become candidates themselves.

But before campaigning, women have to work on modifying the political structure in order to facilitate women ‘s participation. This may entail changing legislation and procedures. To give a personal example, in my country Malta, an island in the Mediterranean, women and even men who work within the Public Service and wishing to contest for elections, will have to apply for leave without pay for the campaigning period. I believe this is impeding women who have family obligations, or perhaps other commitments like in my case, from participating in the political scenario. To add with these the financial commitments related to campaigning.
In Malta, women in Parliament are in the minority with two women Ministers and three women in opposition within the Labour Party. The Greens of which I form part are not yet in power.

However, on a positive note, female candidates have an advantage over men on social issues and by putting the interest of people first as this comes natural. So to start with their campaigning, women should follow these guidelines which are; to present a consistent agenda on these issues and study what the voters want and need to know about them. Then, the following step would be to choose the communities and identify the ways to protect them. Throughout, these campaigns, female candidates also have to work on sending the message across that they are tough but compassionate and that they can handle financial matters. Also, a crucial point is for female candidates to present a good strategy against the opponents as people tend to admire those who against the powerful.

Other activities should include addressing talks, seminars, socio cultural events, and meeting with organizations to get across one s message along with blogs and face books. The last group has become popular with politicians.

Then the rest will follow. However, there is much more to be done by implementing structural changes which promote women s access to full participation in parliament. Finally, more women are needed in parliaments.

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