Level female representatives in US is low.
The two pictures are samples of Swedish and US elected officials,
and they show a clear difference in the male-female ratio. According
to nationmaster.com women in Sweden hold 42.7% seats in parliament
(one single house), whereas the US has 13.8% of the seats (averaged
for senate plus house) held by women. Not surprisingly, Sweden takes
in the top position on this list, but possibly much to your surprise
is that the United States is only sixty-first. The world average
of nationally elected female representatives stands at 13.2% of
the available seats.
When looking at this simple example it becomes obvious that democracies
are not all the same: they differ like finger prints differ in humans.
The Swedish form of proportional elections does a better job in
electing representatives that are more representative of who the
people are and therefore what the people want. In general the female
population is often slightly larger than 50% of the total population
(women live longer than men). And though there are no governments
in the world that have a house of representatives with more than
50% female representatives, those nations that are still holding
elections in districts do not get much more than 1
in 4 female elected officials. The United States coming in as
a mere number 61 (date: April 2006) with less than 1 in 7 representatives
being female is quite disappointing, isn't it?
What is interesting about the nations in top of this list with
the highest amount of female representatives is that they have a
democracy based on full representation and tend to have one House
of Representatives only. The top five nations do not have a Senate,
tend to not have a president (but have a prime-minister who is not
elected in a separate election), and one vote only once every
four years delivers a body that is without a doubt more representative
of the people's wishes than anything we have in California. People
do not vote for winners like we do, they select their actual
representatives. The national political system of Sweden is just
one example of a different form of democracy that improves the voters'
importance, and that makes politicians listen to all in society.
How come two party systems have fewer female representatives? The
answer is strikingly simple: the second choice has no voice.
If we take the example of Sweden, and apply the same ratio of 42%
of the nation to a single district with a single seat, not the woman,
but the man running for that seat, would have won. No matter how
many people vote for a female representative, the majority of people
vote in general for a guy because a guy can fight
better. Fighters are considered winners, and that not only means
guys in general win easier, the special interest mess we find locally
(or in Sacramento) is so big that people actually want a
representative who is best in fighting. The system is so crude that
you need a fighter to get what you want.
Once a system of proportional elections is put in place, there
is less need to fight, so women receive a better chance to become
representatives for two reasons: the system gives them a fair chance,
and the system is based more on cooperation than ending up on top.
If there is a fight in Sweden, it takes place inside the House of
Representatives not inside the electoral system. The thirty
to forty percent of people who vote or would vote for a female representative
are downgraded to fodder in California because of the system
a system that throws out your voice after the race is done
if you didn't pick the winner. This system results in less than
14% of our national representatives being a woman, despite the case
Rose Ann Vuich seemed to have made.
Ann Vuich, November 15, 1976.
"I think I won because I got through
to the people as an individual. My goal from the beginning was to
get to as many people as possiblejust as a person."
It is not impossible for women to partake in our elections and
win. It has been done yet, overall, women have a harder time because
they also must beat the odds that the system created to keep them
out. It is like being a short person wanting to play in the major
league in basket ball; no matter your quality, do you really think
the coach is going to put many short people on the field? Basketball
has its own rules and regulations, and we can all live fine with
basketball being what it is, but democracy should not be like basketball
with a basket ten feet high. There is nothing wrong with the women;
it is the system that discriminates on the wrong grounds. Especially
our local democracies in cities and counties should not be based
on discriminating grounds.
Some nations in the world with more than two parties have very
few female representatives too. How is that possible? Cultural ideologies
where women are given a lesser position may provide
some of the explanation, yet the discrepancy can also be caused
by a partial use of district elections, as is the case in France
and Japan. These nations have multiple parties in power, yet part
of their system is still based on complicated and discriminating
It is not just women who are cut to the chase. How many poor people
do you know congregate in the US House of Representatives and Senate?
A large percentage of Representatives and Senators are millionaires.
It is the direct result of the American electoral system; the larger
the district in which you compete, the more money you have to bring
in order to win. Millionaires can start out with bringing their
own money. Money does not always win, but in the largest of districts
it wins close to always. The televised thrill, of the underdog who
was able to win, sours when this underdog position means the guy
has only half the amount compared to the other who has $200 million.
Nowadays, without the support of big bucks there is no use to run
for Senator. It helps explain why third parties have easier access
to our politicians. An elitist democracy even more so at
the top in Washington than at the local level is put in place
by district elections, while local bulwarks fitting the divide-and-conquer
games of the largest players appear to be bastions of individualized
freedom, but are actually localized monopolies. Changing local systems,
for instance, to full representation may not do away completely
with some of the financial aspects that currently decides whether
you can become a representative or not. But a democracy based on
full representation brings in other distinctions as well, and will
therefore diminish the dominating financial role of who stands a
chance to win and who doesn't. In full representation the voters
and their votes cut up the pie; the voters do not decide who can
best cut up the competition.
There is a strong link between district elections and electing
a guy into office. A democracy based on full representation creates
much better representation; it is more representative. The United
States comes in somewhere around the world average of nationally
elected female representatives.
Click these pictures for more information on political systems and female representation.
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