Women & Politics

Article research by Allison Bloch, Newsdesk.org Intern 

Simply having the right to vote does not guarantee civic enfranchisement or equal status. A short survey of women’s issues at home and abroad finds wage disparities, lack of political involvement, and, of course, conflict over abortion rights and wrongs.

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Blue State Blues

Women Abroad


Status: Quo?

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You don’t get much more Democratic than New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachussets. With that political inclination, you’d expect progressive attitudes towards women, and ample political motivation in the “second sex.”

Why, then, was New Jersey was recently called out as having one of the nation’s lowest rates of political participation by women? The numbers are actually remarkable — 48th in the nation for women in elected office, 45th for women who vote and 38th for women who register to vote. Minorities fared little better.

Pennsylvania, ranked at 47th in the nation for women in politics, did little to improve the regional rep. And while Massachussets may offer women some of the highest wages in the U.S., black and hispanic women earned about $10,000 less than their caucasian counterparts. The state ranked 28th for women in politics.

What’s to blame? The old-boy network? Famously corrupt East Coast politics? Apathy? Regional media provides both reporting, speculation and commentary on the issue.

“Women, minorities rare in legislature”
New Jersey Journal, November 29, 2004

“Women, minorities frustrated at being left out of N.J. politics”
Newsday.com, November 19, 2004

“Women getting cold shoulder”
Asbury Park Press, November 30, 2004

“Women in Politics”
Philadelphia Inquirer, November 28, 2004

“Study: Bay State women fare well economically, but lack political clout”
TownOnline.com, November 23, 2004

Keyword search (women politics): Google News, Yahoo News

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Overseas, Southern African states are falling behind on their pledges to increase to 30 percent the amount of women in their political systems. Out of thirteen nations, only South Africa and Mozambique made the cut. At the bottom of the list are Mauritania (5.7 percent) and Zimbabwe (10.6 percent).

Namibia, while lagging on the national scale, has achieved 30 percent participation by women in local government.

Further north and east, the Taiwan legislature was decried for having only 13 percent of incumbents supporting women’s issues. With elections imminent, hot topics include daycare, security and spousal rights.

“SADC ‘missing the boat’ on women in politics”
IOL, November 22, 2004

“Women’s issues neglected in legislative campaigning”
Taipei Times, November 29, 2004

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With the conservative movement emboldened by George W. Bush’s imminent second term, the abortion issue will be the subject of ongoing and probably divisive legislative conflict.

American University scholar Karen O’Conner said the next Congress will see “innovative ways to try to whittle away at Roe v. Wade,” but Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee says the filibuster rule will make a true rollback difficult.

Overall, a new poll finds that 59 percent of Americans want Bush to appoint Supreme Court justices that will uphold Roe v. Wade.

“Major fights expected over abortion in D.C.”
Chicago Tribune, November 28, 2004

“Poll: Americans want Roe v. Wade upheld”
Associated Press, November 29, 2004

Keyword search (abortion): Google News, Yahoo News

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Stir in a little sexual harassment with your conflict between homeland security and the right to privacy, and you have yourself a potential lawsuit.

Rhonda Gaynier, a New York real-estate lawyer, is considering filing one against the federal Transportation Safety Administration after a “patdown” that left her “almost in tears.” The TSA implemented the searches in the wake of the two Russian plane crashes on September 22, thought to be caused by female Chechen suicide bombers.

In Montana, women rank near the bottom of the wage ladder, earning 73.5 cents to every dollar men earn. In thirty years, the gap between male and female wages there has improved by only 4.5 cents.

“Some women object to airport patdowns”
USA Today, November 29, 2004

“Montana women fare poorly on wages, report finds”
Bozeman Daily Chronicle, November 30, 2004

Keyword search (women airport patdown search): Google News, Yahoo News

Keyword search (women wages): Google News, Yahoo News

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