Sunday, January 25, 2015

Student Blog #1: Social Justice and Women in Politics

Regular readers will know that this blog is tied to INTS 400, Critical Perspectives on Social Justice and the Common Good at St. Thomas More College.  As part of this year's class, students are asked to keep a weekly journal where they think critically about Social Justice and the Common Good through their observations of the world around them.  Each week, a student from our class will be contributing one of those journal entries to our Blog.  Below is the first entry by Srini Samarawickrama who is raising critical questions about the role of women in public life.

Social Justice, the Common Good and Women in Politics  

The concepts of social justice and the common good are widely debated. Everyone has different thoughts as to what makes a just or good society.

I think that a just society includes equality and opportunity for everyone without any bias or discrimination. One of the issues that frustrated me for a long time is the underrepresentation of women in politics. I believe that there is gender bias and gender discrimination in the general world of politics, which extends to biases surrounding how society views political leadership and political decision-making.

I often feel that women in powerful leadership positions are treated as if they are somehow a threat to the society. I have noticed that men are often considered to be better (or stronger) leaders because women are considered to be indecisive and nurturing. There also seems to be societal friction when women try to become equals to men in the political or business worlds.

Women face more obstacles and barriers when it comes to pursing a career in politics. The first barrier is the underrepresentation of women engaged in politics. I believe that this sometimes discourages other women from participating in politics. Second, the underrepresentation of women reinforces the false perception that men have more political leadership capabilities than women.  I believe this is fundamentally wrong.

I believe the underrepresentation of women in politics can change if women themselves are willing to challenge the barriers to participating in politics.  To accelerate this change, society should encourage more women to become involved in politics, while education at both the secondary and post-secondary level should highlight and explain the barriers to women participating in politics.  In doing so, women will be both individually empowered and collectively given positive reinforcement to engage in a political career. They will also be empowered to participate in political parties or simply to act politically themselves.

Such changes would be a common good for all women and would certainly lead to a more just society.

- Srini Samarawickrama

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