Silver Chips Online

In want of women

The American government lacks females in office

By Natasha Prados, Online Managing Editor
March 3, 2006
In a country where women have been enslaved as recently as 1996, a woman has been elected president.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the "Iron Lady," was sworn in as Liberia, and Africa's, first democratically elected female president, according to a Jan. 16 article published by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Since 1960, when Sirivamo Bandaranaike was elected the first female prime minister of Sri Lanka, women have been overcoming sexism and oppression to achieve the highest post of their governments.

Yet the United States of America, a country which prizes equality and equal opportunity, has yet to elect a female president. America's track record is zero for 43, while Liberia has a genuinely democratically elected female president.

Liberia is not the only country showing us up. There are currently five female presidents and five female prime ministers, according to the online Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership. Michelle Bachelet, a former political prisoner and a socialist recently democratically elected as Chile's first female president, will soon join them.

The lack of a female president in America is not due to a shortage of women contenders. Victoria Claflin Woodhall pronounced herself a candidate in the 1872 election 134 years ago. Since then, at least ten women have made serious bids for the presidency, according to American Women Presidents (an organization dedicated to electing a female president in the U.S.), and 100 percent of them have failed to reach the office.

The absence of women in government is not limited to the office of the president. According to the Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership, the United States is a government made up of "few women": the current Bush administration is 15 percent women, compared to 24 percent in George H. W. Bush's administration and 37 percent in Bill Clinton's administration.

In 2006, women hold 15.1 percent of the seats in Congress, 25.1 percent of state-wide elective executive positions and 22.8 percent of the seats in state legislatures, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

This is unacceptable in a country with a population that is 51 percent women and claiming to support women's rights.

But there is hope; maybe the tide is changing. According to CBS News, 92 percent of Americans say they would vote for a woman if she were qualified.

The time is ripe for female leadership; what America needs now is women willing to overcome the disappointments of the past, willing to put themselves in the public arena and willing to fight for political office. The more qualified women contenders there are for office, the better the chance they can be elected and the more America can represent the people.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/6301