Saturday, July 14, 2007

On the importance of a 50-50 male female balance...

At the pub a few weeks ago, I was explaining to a few non political friends about the idea of all woman shortlists and how they tend to stir up a lot of debatewithin the Labour party. An argument I had trouble answering is why we should be striving to attain a 50-50 male female balance in parliament. My friend asked why achieveing this was anything more than a marketing exercise for the party.

Last nights General Comittee meeting gave me a clear example of why the balance is needed. It came with discussion on Baroness Hollis' amendment to the pensions bill, allowing people to buy back up to nine years lost National Insurance contributions. The main beneficiaries of such an amendment would be women who are more likely to have gaps in their contribution records.

This is an issue that affects mainly women, but will be decided by a parliament and an upper house both composed mainly of men. In answer to my friend at the pub. Achieving a 50-50 balance is more than just a marketing exercise because those who do the job of an MP have a say in the issues that affect everyone and those who make the decisions on these issues should also have an understanding of them.

citizenandreas [at] slick47 [dot] co [dot] uk

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your argument presupposes that men are incapable of understanding or caring, or at least less likely to understand or care, about issues which affect mainly women.

MPs vote on all sorts of issues which don't directly affect them. For example they vote whether or not we go to war; is that an argument that half of MPs should be soldiers? They vote on issues that affect different regions of the UK; is than an argument that half of them should be English, half Scottish, half Welsh, etc?

We don't need a 50-50 balance to vote on women's issues. We need MPs who can empathise with others.