Culture

A Quest for Women's Political representations: Lessons from the Nordic Countries

Abstract: 
The purpose of this paper is to map inter-organizational coordination in urban Political equality as a value is central to the normative theories of democracy, which considers that women are equal citizens and therefore should share equal voice with men in the public decision-making processes. This objective is yet to be achieved across the globe. The first wave of democracy began in the early 19th century when suffrage was granted to the majority of males in the United States. From that point to date, women’s voting right was established, to reach even the top most positions. However, the net visibility of women is still low in many countries. Globally, women’s underrepresentation is attributed to factors like lack of education, economic inability, family responsibilities, religion, stereotypes in society, electoral system, party ideology, psychological barriers (lack of assertive power, low self-esteem) etc. Most of the developing countries are struggling to remove these barriers. The developed west, has successfully addressed many of such barriers. Despite these impressive achievements, the statistical analysis of those countries shows a dismal situation in terms of the women’s representation in many of the developed countries compared to the Nordic countries; like USA 17%, France 19%, Italy 22%, UK 22%, Canada 25% and Australia 25% of the women representation in the parliament. There are differences of 10-20% women representation in the national parliament among the Nordic countries and the other industrial democratic countries. Now, the question is what are the determinants for the women’s higher level of representation in these Nordic countries while important determinants like education, economic empowerment, electoral system, religion etc. are more or less same? The answer may be embedded in the institutional arrangement of the countries. This study measures the institutional arrangement from the cultural perspective. The Nordic countries have transformed their institutional arrangement in such a way that it may create a supportive environment for women. The trends of the Nordic countries show that to increase women representation in the parliament, a country needs to reduce power distance and masculinity while the individualism needs to be concurrently increased. The global statistics of different countries also support these trends. Most of the western countries indicate that success of removing the economic and the other institutional barriers may be important but may not be adequate to ensure women’s political representations. If they are not supported by favorable cultural stimuli, they cannot ensure women’s representation. These trends may provide some learning lessons for the industrial democracies and for the other developing countries to increase women’s visibility in the political arena.
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