Democracies in the Developing World Should Set Quotas For Women In Parliament
“The oppression of a people anywhere is the oppression of a people everywhere” Martin Luther King Jr. We in the proposition affirm that all men are created equal, that women as well as men have a right to fair to determine their destiny and wellbeing, and to fair participation in processes of governance that facilitate the exercise of these rights. When we speak of a democracy we refer to a government which derives its legitimacy from the people, expressed through representation of the people’s points of view by parliaments that consist of democratically elected members. Therefore, a democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system that ensures fair representation of all its citizens. According to a report on the situation of women in parliament in developing countries as of 30th June 2010 compiled by the inter-parliamentary union,the world average of women representation in parliament is 19%. In most developing countries, this figure is much lower. In sub-saharan Africa, this figure stands at 18.6%. 15.3 % for Pacific and 8.9% for Arabs states and 18.4 % for Asia. This means that on average less than 2 out of every 10 parliamentarians in developing countries are women. This is a problem because women form about half of the human population and yet they have a representation of less than 20% in a body which is supposed to making decisions that affect their well being. Our plan is to increase female representation in parliament in developing countries by advocating for a quota system in which a specified percentage of parliamentary seats are reserved for women candidates. In defining out parameters, we would like to assert that this is a meant to be a temporary measure, a band aid of sort to work concurrently with comprehensive measures to entrench women involvement in legislative processes. We would also advocate for a basic minimum qualification that ensures eligibility of the candidates to benefit under our proposed scheme.
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A matter of Justice:
The following are the arguments showing why you should accept our proposal
It is simply a matter of Justice that women, who make up about half of the population in developing countries, should have sizeable representation in decision making bodies like parliament. Unfortunately, due to mostly cultural stereotypes of the ineptitude of women for positions of leadership in patriarchal societies, they are often not voted in simply on the basis of sex. This is a gross injustice that can be righted by granting women a specific quota of representatives in Parliament.
Indeed this can only be termed as injustice rather than what our opponents call fair justice. To educate them, fair justice does not promote breeding grounds for discrimination and supremacy of any single entity of any sort. What fair justice has created through democracy and must be safeguarded is a single platform where all parties of the society (men and women) without any restriction to sex, age, color, race and ethnicity can partake in a countries system of governance. The basic fact is that, the quota system by their argument will discriminate against male counter parts and even suggest that women are more superior to other minorities of the society (youth, children, disabled, etc). Accepting this proposition speaks against equal justice. What our opponents describe as a matter of justice will promote social injustice and discrimination. A system of fair justice should rather allow each and every to have a say in governance issues and seek fair redress from the law. Women are equal as men.
Spill over to other minorities:
More than a mere state resulting from a profusion of supporting legislation, the principle of Equality of all men is first of all a social attitude. However, legislation plays a role in the formation of this attitude. Quotas for women in parliament force society to think not only about their dignity, but about the dignity of all minorities-the disabled, the youth, the elderly and so on. Thus any measure that promotes the dignity of one group will soon spill over to promotion of equality of all peoples.
We definitely do not agree with is proposition. For a moment we stand confused with what our opponent is trying to state. In their introduction they made mention of men equal to women and now they suggest that the principle of equality of all men (including women), is a social attitude.
Equality of all men and women is not a social attitude but a practical principle allows both male and female, white and black, Ashanti or Ewe and Ugandan and Ghanaian to be treated as equal. This will be for want of better word ‘neo dictatorship’. The fact still remains that equality forms an integral part of every democracy and this principle they refer to as social attitude has eliminated the occurrence of male supremacy from our society.
This system that they call a mere social attitude has been proven to be practicable in many developing countries.
This principle has elected a female President in the case of Liberia. In Ghana, this principle has appointed a female Chief Justice (Her Ladyship Georgina Wood) and a female Speaker of Parliament. No, our legislation did not give them the quota; our legislation armed them to compete as equals with their male counterparts on the very basis of equality.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes this a priority as stated in Article 1 ‘All human beings are born and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood’. True, legislation plays a role in the formation of attitude but any legislation that seeks to restrict a people freedom of choice is an affront to the very pillar of democracy where freedom of choice is a must.
Have they thought about the anarchy and confusion that developing countries will turn into, should all group of persons in the society request a specific number of seats in parliament? Our young democracy will collapse and we shall definitely return to dictatorship rule.
A support to democracy:
The underlying principle of all democracy is not just that all men are born equal, but also the assumption that all men are aware of this fact. Sadly, we know all too well that in many societies this is not the case: there is a clear prejudice against women. Thus even seemingly democratic elections are conducted on an unfair psychological ground where female candidates have lost the war before a single shot is fired! A quota for women acts as a stop-gap measure to level, as far as is humanly possible, this play ground so that what prejudice denies them in the mind, the law can restore in practice. In the meantime, other measures like education and mass-sensitization can be carried out to slowly correct this defective mentality.
No, the principle of equality was not crafted by men who by virtue of good deeds thought all men are equal. It is a natural right given to men and women at birth and entrenched in all democracies in the world including developing countries.
By their own definition they define democracy as ‘a government which derives its legitimacy from the people, expressed through representation of the people’s points of view by parliaments that consist of democratically elected members. Therefore, a democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system that ensures fair representation of all its citizens’.
If we go against this brilliant definition to think that legitimizing a specific number of seats to be given to women in parliament by virtue of what we do not know infringe upon the underlying principle of democracy as a government which derives its legitimacy from the people.
This will not support democracy but rather break democracy into faction. We ask, will a government be regarded as legitimate in a situation where people’s freedom of choice is restricted to choosing their representatives not on the basis of their qualification and ability but on the basis of sex?
It restricts a people's freedom of choice
These are the very reason we stand against the motion:
Freedom of Choice is a universal principle to which there should be no exceptions. We have not come to the conclusion of the immutability of this principle simply through good motives. We have been led to it through impartial analysis of the objectives process of our time [quote=Mikhail Gorbachev] [ Speech to the United Nations, New York 7 December, 1988]. One of the strong pillars of democracy is the ability of people to free elect their representatives without any restriction what so ever. The simple fact is, governments in every democracy gain their legitimacy from the people who express this view through elections. Article 21 clause 1 and 3 states, ' every one has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives and the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedure'.
By allocating a specific number of seats to women in parliament means amending this universal law which will infringe upon the fundamental human rights of the people. In contrast, people in a society will be restricted to choose a women at all cost even when their preference is a man. In the short run, governments will lose the legitimacy and power.
"Every one has the right to take part in the government of his country," our opponents believe so. Every one includes women as well. This is what the article states but what is the practice?The preposition has clearly indicated this is not what is happening. The opposition by its own admission concedes that fair justice does not promote breeding ground for discrimination of any single entity. However, in their redress they fail to address the fact that women constitute half the world’s population and yet less than 2 out of every 10 parliamentarians are male according to statistics from the inter-parliamentary union report on the situation of women in parliament. We most certainly agree with opposition that no single entity should discriminate against the other therefore we aver that they agree with us when we say that fair justice means ending the discrimination of any single entity, in this case male, and that there in need to balance this imbalance by introducing a quota system which ensures equal participation of men and women . To create fair and long term remedy our plan does not only propose quota for women slots in Parliament but also other women empowerment programs like education for women. That will insure that women too are participating in the governance of their countries. Therefore by allocating a specific number for women does not mean amending the the universal law but rather it upholds the principle for which it stands by ensuring that both men and women are participating in the governance of their respective countries.
This again does does not restrict people to electing women as the opposition think. our plan ensures that people will have their choice of female candidate during periodic elections under the quota. We should also remember that this is just a quota, There is still the bigger portion from where people have their choices of choosing male candidate.
It will breed inquality in the society
Secondly, we strongly believe that what the proposition has proposed will nullify the basis for gender equality and equity. we define gender equality to imply that girls and boys, women and men have to be treated the same without discrimination in realization of full while gender equity is defined as, rights giving boys and girls, women and men equal opportunities in the utilization of personal capabilities to realize full human rights.
The very words of Shirley Chisholm in a speech to Congress, Washington on 21 May, 1969, says ' women need no protection that men do not need. What we need are laws to protect working people, to guarantee them fair pay, safe working conditions, protection against sickness and layoffs and provision for dignified, comfortable retirement. Men and women need these things equally. That one sex need protection more than the other is a male supremacist myth as ridiculous and unworthy of respect as the white supremacist myth that society is trying to cure itself of at this time'.
Apportioning a quota of seats for women will be tantamount to gender inequality and the rights to seek gender equity will be undermined. Not only men will feel cheated but other minorities in the societies who will feel that their interests are not met. This situation has the tendency of turning a harmonious country into a state of anarchy and confusion.
Thirdly, there will not be any avenue for fair competition that is healthier for developing countries. We envision that women will be relaxed in communicating their developmental and policy agenda to the public based on the conviction that no matter how the situation is, their representation is safeguarded. What most quota has sort to do is to identify regions or constituencies where women are predominant and limiting the contesting for such position for women.
We thank the opposition for bringing on our behalf the declaration of Human Rights and other evidence to support our claim that all human beings are. Their attempts to water down our case as suggesting that we intend to have women dominate parliament are a clear indication that they did not take time to consider out plan.
To restate our plan, we in the proposition intend to increase female representation by advocating for a temporary measure that sets quotas for women representation until such time as it is no longer an issue when a woman stands for any position for election. We do not under any circumstances propose a dictatorship of terms. Rather we propose a situation of dialogue and mutual understanding that allows women their fair share of parliamentary representation in exchange for their the release of the rights
our opponents think setting quota breeds inequality but they do not clearly indicate how this will happen. First we are proposing a quota because we want to correct an imbalance where in most cases women are not elected because they are women. This is an injustice that can be corrected by creating quota for women in parliament.
Our opponents further state that there will be no competition. This is not true because even in the said quota our plan ensures that women will still have to compete for people to select their choices. Even then in the remaining part candidates, are still competing. in other words competition is both in the quota reserved for women and in the general so it would be incorrect to suggest that quota lead to unfair competition.
Decrease representation in parliament
Quota setting is not necessary due to the simple fact that it has the higher tendency of decreasing representatives in parliament. Going by the wonderful statistics quoted by our opponent, the analysis of the facts are that women have little or no interest at all in leadership positions and are less educated to take up leadership positions.
Ideally, we believe that the strong point that our opponents are capitalizing on is ‘women empowerment’. What is quite obvious and no hidden secret is that women in developing countries constitute a minute percentage of the educate elites in the society. Statistically, women in one African country alone the literacy rate among men is 26% while among women is 11%. Other statistics further highlight that of the 1 billion illiterates in the world; two thirds of them are women[http://www.sil.org/literacy/wom_lit.htm]. This situation indispose women to take up leadership even if they so desire.
What we believe should rather be encouraged is ‘girls child’ education. This will pave way for women to develop themselves to take up positions they so desire. Cutting a quota for women in parliament simply will suggest we are breading a situation where women will have to relax, knowing that there is clear number cut for their involvement in decision making process.
The opposition again lays fertilizer on the ground on our behalf when they agree with us that government derives its power from the people exercised through elective agents. How does giving a platform to weakened voice that constitutes half the population translate into breaking democracy into faction?? Our plan promises diffusion of the male faction to open up space for women and other minorities, we fail to see how the opposition’s support of the status quo caters for underrepresented groups.
To restate what the opposition has presented in support of our case, everyone has the right to take part in the government of their country, directly or through freely chosen. That the requirement to listen to half the population of developing countries should be deemed restrictive of freedom of choice is mind boggling. Again to refer the opposition to our plan, we intend for these measures to operate as temporary band aid to repair the da
The assumption that women have little or no interest all in leadership positions as our opponents state is incorrect "Even where women have indicated willingness and self-confidence to stand for public office, their efforts had been thwarted by male dominated and administrative structures", Dr Ofei-Aboagye Head of the Institute of Local Government Studies saidt at the 21st Speaker's Breakfast Forum, in Accra http://www.modernghana.com/news2/120512/1/director-calls-for-affirmative-action-for-women-in.html. empowering women through education is a good but that alone will not guarantee their participation. There is no guarantee that girl child education will necessarily translate into more women participating in leadership. let us assume that yes we educate the girl child. When will their number equal to their male counterparts?should we just sit and wait ? Education for women is indeed part of our long term strategy but in the mean time having a quota left women representatives ensures that women as well as men participation.
It will still put women in the minority
Let us state emphatically, that the motion on board does not seek a temporal measurement but a mechanism that will for years to come ensure that a certian number of women are represented in parliament. Any other that thing that will ensure women participation in a country's decision process other than amending the legislative structure of that country espercially the foundamental human rights of the people is what we are calling for. Women are equal to men because first an foremost we are regarded as humans. Any amendment to lazily allow women to have a spercial threatment will mean that our precious women are weak and not worth it to engage in a fair compition under the democratic despensation of developing countries. Women can do better if they are given the necessary assistance that will develop their self confidence and leadership skills.
We ascribe to the wise saying that states, 'dont give a man a fish but teach a man to fish, that way his family will never go hungry'. In same manner we say ' dont give our women a seat, but teach them how to appeal to their people to get elected for that seat'.
The proposition forgets that giving a quota to women in parliament will still put women in minority. This is evident in countries where this policy is implemented. In Pakistan, 60 seat out the 342 seats are reserved for women ( which represents about 17.2) percent and Bangladesh after it's Constitutional amendment in 2004 incresing its parliament seats to 345 only resevred 45 seats which consistute 13 percent to women [[http://www.indianexpress.com/news/india-set-to-join-40-nations-in-reserving-parl-seats-for-women/588823/]].
None of the countries that have set quota for women in parliament have achieved a 40 per cent rate. We ask are these percentages fair for our precious women who constitute more than half of the worlds population? Agreeing to this quoata system will still put women in the minority but this time round define the percentage they compose.
You are right but that is not the practice. From by the figures you give you reflect that the practice is different. We again refer to the comprehensive plan the preposition has given. Preserve quota for women at the same time empower them through education and sanitization. When the opposition suggests women education then I don’t find the difference. You seem to suggest that we should educate women and wait for results. I need to restate that educating women is basically part of our plan but you can not say let us begin educating our women then it will mean we have to wait for hundred years. That is why despite Dr Ofei-Aboagye’s admission that women's participation in leadership had been affected by factors such as lack of confidence, apathy among women, inadequate exposure to public life and the demands of women's reproductive roles she still ends up backing affirmative action for women in leadership as she knows that education for women alone will take time and yet it can be implemented along another measures. That is why backing quota for women in the mean time becomes prudent for her. “don’t give a man a fish but teach a man to fish, that way his family will never go hungry': A wise saying the opposition believes in but we also needs to stress that the saying needs to be put in context. Assuming you find a man nearing starvation you can not tell that man let us go to the river and I teach you how to fish then you will not starve any more. The wise thing will be feed the man save his life and then teach him how to fish so that he will never starve. Before and as you a teach a starving man they must be something for him or her to eat otherwise you have non to teach.
In other wards looking at the status quo it will be absolutely unfair to suggest that we wait until education brings results. We need to make sure that women are represented at the same time empowering them till the system is no longer staked against them. Until it is not an issue electing
Education is the answer
Dr. Ofei-Aboagye, Head of the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) at the 21st Speaker's Breakfast Forum in Accra said 'with backing of constitutional provisions, the role of women in leadership positions as a right, but women's participation in leadership had been affected by factors such as lack of confidence, apathy among women, inadequate exposure to public life and the demands of women's reproductive roles'. Education is the key that will catapult women to take advantage of any political oder. We do not concern to any undertaken that will portray our women as weak and vile but strongly affirm the plan for governments to introduce educational initiative that will develop women leadership and managerial skills. The Silent benefit of education solves the problems Dr. Ofei-Aboagye noted. Education as we know aside raising the academic credentials, equipping and attesting to an individual capabilities, boost ones confidence, better understanding of issues and exposure to public life.
The Model United Nations Far West pegs illiteracy among women in developing countries at 538 million and a total of 640 million illiterate women in the world. Nobel Laureate Godimer (Secretary-General) has stated, "Illiteracy is poverty of the intellect '. In defining illiteracy we go by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which says 'an illiterate person is someone who cannot, with understanding, both read and write a short, simple statement on his or her daily life. A person who can only read but not write, or can write but not read is considered to be illiterate. A person who can only write figures, his or her name or a memorized ritual phrase is also not considered literate'[[http://www.munfw.org/archive/50th/csw1.htm]]. We at the opposition propose that developing countries should take key interest in educating women. Women needs to be educated to take what rightfully belong to them in democratic dispensation.
The opposition has given interesting statistics about the illiteracy levels of women and thus they suggest that since the illiteracy levels are low compared men then it is the reason they suggest education for women and nothing else. Illiteracy alone can not be the cause for the problem at hand. Let us take the statistics they have given of 26% to 11% this would literally mean that the number of women in parliaments is basically slightly less than a half of the men. But we state that the numbers are far less as we indicate in the status quo. Dr Ofei-Aboagye’s whom our opponents quota says “Despite improvement in women's participation in decision-making and public life in Ghana in the recent past, it still lags behind that of men's.
For instance, the year 2000 Parliamentary Election resulted in 18 women being elected in the then 200- seat Parliament, but the 2004 Elections had 25 women being elected out of 230 parliamentarians.
Also, between 1997 and 2004, there were 11 women out of 110 District Chief Executives (DCEs) which rather decreased to six between 2001 and 2004; and as at February 2006, 12 female DCEs had been appointed, one of which was for a Metropolitan Assembly.
However, between 1997 and 2004, there were two women in a Cabinet of 19 members, but now there is one, and also out of the 10 Regional Ministers, only two were women in the 1997 to 2000 period. Now there is none and there is only two women Deputy Regional Ministers in the Greater Accra and Eastern Regions”. The point we are making is that it is not literacy alone other causes like attitudes will not be addressed. "Even where women have indicated willingness and self-confidence to stand for public office, their efforts had been thwarted by male dominated and administrative structures", Dr Ofei-A
Ghana Team Summary
We in the opposition takes this opportunity to thank our opponent for debating with us to this level indeed Debate Wise is where great minds truly differs. We strongly do not ascribe to the motion ' democracies in the developing world should set quotas for women in parliament'; simply put we say no to the motion. it is necessary to recap that this systems of quota will limit and infringe upon a people's fundamental human rights, breed inequality in the society, decrease representation in parliament and still put women in the minority.
Women indeed are the majority our society and constitute more that two-thirds of the population in the developing countries. In contrast, women have a greater advantage than men to use their majority to their own advantages. what has gone wrong that needs to be solved is the continual decrease in girl child education. we believe governments should intensify girl child education and institute educational programs that aims at developing the women in our society and preparing them for task ahead. Another major problem that has less been talked is funding. Running a election campaign to sell developmental agenda to people is a difficult task.
Truly speaking, the cost of running an election campaign demotivate women who have the willingness and zeal to contest. What we in the opposition propose rather developing countries do is to take bold steps towards the funding of women who have the passion to contest for parliamentary and national position in government. Local and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) that works towards solving women issues as far as leadership is concerned needs to come together and plan workable ways of supporting women during elections. An example is Foundation for Female Photo Journalist (FFPJ) initiative where women contesting for parliamentary and national positions are given an opportunity to appear on television to lay their plans and appeal for votes. This is a single entity, imagine what the majority of these women NGOs can do as a group.
In order not to avoid discrimination, restrict our people's freedom of choice, portray our women as weak and put our women in the minority, we still say there is no need for democracies in developing countries to set quota for women in parliament.
Setting a quota for women will lessen stereotypes against women. The preposition affirms that the issue of attitude and stereotypes against women can not be left out in finding the durable solution to the current situation because gender stereotypes block women advancement. Our opponents suggest that if we educate women then it will automatically lead to their participation in leadership this is not true because the question of stereotyping is not necessarily because women are not educated. “Senior executives' perceptions of men and women are more informed by gender-based stereotypes than facts, leading to misrepresentation of the true talents of women this according to Catalyst, a U.S. research and advisory organization dedicated to advancing women at work, and further argues that the effects of gender-based stereotyping can be devastating, potentially undermining women's capacity to lead, and posing serious challenges to women's career advancement contributing to the startling gender gap in business leadership.”[[http://www.management-issues.com/2006/8/24/research/gender-stereotypes-block-womens-advancement.asp]]
Our plan will achieve this because when women quota is set for women representation it will undo some of these held perceptions in the long run coupled with education and sensitization full scale presentation will be achieved. “Breaking down stereotypes around women and gender was a question of undoing long-held but misguided perceptions, and recognizing their potential damage.”Until we break the spell of stereotyping, companies will continue to sub-optimize women and lose a vital talent pool — one they, frankly, cannot afford to ignore," Lang leader of Catalyst, a U.S. research and advisory organization says.
What do you think?