Should the Political Parties enforce All-Women shortlists on voting constituencies?
David Cameron has said, during an appearance at a Conference set up to address under-representation of women and minority groups in Parliament, that his party will impose all-women shortlists on constituencies voting after January 2010. He said he ‘desperately’ wanted to address the ‘failure’ of Parliament and the Conservative Party to reflect society. Are these lists really the only way to increase numbers of Women MPs?
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Numbers of Women in Parliament do not represent society.
Women are over half of the population, although less than 20% of the House of commons is made up of women. In order to truly have a representative Government, numbers must be increased to fairly mirror numbers in society. All women shortlists are a quick and usually effective way of doing this. The Labour party used all-women shortlists in the 1990's and many well-known female MPs were elected this way.
Women may indeed be underrepresented within the House of Commons. But are their views? How can we be sure that by increasing numbers of women, women's views will be any better represented? By allowing Political Parties to fix these election shortlists, will this prevent constituencies from voting for the candidate they feel best represents their views?
There currently exists a plethora of female oriented organizations within the government, including the Council on Women's Health. Women's views are disproportionately represented in the government, when you consider that no single organization exists representing men's interests and views.
To rectify this, a Council on Men's Health should be created, and not this "female-only shortlist", which blatantly discriminates on the basis of gender.
All-Women Shortlists are undemocratic.
All-Women shortlists seem to, in some ways, detract from the purpose of having elections. Encouraging more women to stand for election should not be about 'making up numbers'. Women are extremely capable of becoming elected without help from male party leaders. Many leading female MPs oppose All-Women shortlists on a matter of principle, for example, Ann Widdecombe claims they are "an insult to women"
Enforcing diversity becomes descrimination
I think a more positive way to address this is by addressing the culture of parliament. As a woman myself I would hate to think that any of the successes I've had have been because someone was trying to meet a women in the workplace target. Spend more time trying to engage women/people with disabilities/BME groups - then you might get someone worth voting for.
What do you think?