Will Hillary Clinton’s Gender go along with her?

A successful political leader is someone who not only fulfills the basic requirements of the society but also creates a sustainable model which does not depend solely on the person for functioning. The Oxford Handbook on Gender and Politics states that the needs of the people all over the world are safety, health, education, employment, free access to markets, public space and most important of them all – freedom of expression, especially to articulate dissent. As a political leader, to what extent does one’s gender influence the deliverance of duty and creation of sustainable model? It depends on the society the leader is operating from and what has gone into making of the leader as a human. The Oxford Handbook also states that gender is never about biological sex only. It is lived differently and varies as per races, ethnicity, nation and class. Although gender has fixed primitive instincts of being nurturers and hunters, it is important to see how it plays out against other realities of humanity. We need to contextualize and understand the impact of the fact that women’s participation in politics is not only very low but it also suffers from historic deprivation which will take generations of women activism to nurse it back to life.

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The United Nations Women published statistics on participation of women in Parliament across the world for the year 2015. The UN report clarifies that “more women in politics does not necessarily correlate with lower levels of corruption, as is often assumed. Rather, democratic and transparent politics is correlated with low levels of corruption, and the two create an enabling environment for more women to participate.” Setting 30 percent as minimum percentage of women participation in parliament; we find that Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway) are doing far better at 41 percent as compared to other continents. The worst performers are countries in the Pacific which includes the long list of China, Japan, Russia, France, Papua New Guinea etc. It does not mean the Nordic countries are exemplary. They are just relatively better. Maybe we can now understand Hillary Clinton’s exclamation at her recent nomination from the Democratic Party towards becoming the President of the United States, “To every little girl who dreams big: Yes, you can be anything you want – even president. Tonight is for you.” The Oxford Handbook rightly states that across the globe, one’s gender determines access to nutrition, sanitation facilities, educational attainment, access to public spaces, choice to marry, family planning, finances, choice of livelihood and right to adequate wage. Hence, gender is not only a varied experience as per races and ethnicity; it is also a history of deprivation and hegemony to the opposite sex.Does this complexity influence the way leaders political prioritize and function?

Society functions on communication. Language constitutes communication. In Simone De Beauvoir’s opinion, “…We must seize upon the language, but in doing so we must remain aware that language bears the mark of men. It’s universal but also singular. The point is not for women simply to take power out of men’s hands, since that would not change anything about the world.” When we take into consideration the fact that men made the base on which the world and society is created; we also become sensitive to the feudal structures therein. In the words of the author of “The March of the Evil Empires”, “The effect different words can create is purely remarkable. This exquisite power of words to propel or to retard social mobility and interaction has actually to be experienced to be understood.” Therefore, the point of contemplation is the percentage ratio of damage control that women leaders do vis-à-vis furthering the cause of a utopian society for which they are elected into the role.

We, at Centre for Social Research, have been strong supporters of Hillary Clinton’s run for presidency. We wish her luck and hope that the United States of America finally gets a female president.

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