Confidence, culture, childcare and cash: four factors which Anne-Marie Goetz of UNIFEM identifies as keeping women out of high level decision making bodies in both public and private spheres.
Confidence: women need to learn that their voices are essential for the best decision making to happen. This will only sink in when men as well as women welcome the full participation of women at every level of political and public debate. It will also only happen when women support women and don’t feel that their own individual inclusion in the elite is change enough.
Culture: we need to work for a radical attitudinal change in cultures where women are still purposely excluded from public life. And we need to ensure that women’s participation is more than token in cultures which only superficially include women.
Childcare: women need to know that their children are not losing out through their mother’s choice to participate in the world outside the home. We need to create societies where child-caring is a shared responsibility between women and men and where there is funding to allow families to pay for help when needed. Which leads us to the fourth and final factor:
Cash: women are the poorest of the poor – 70% of the world’s poor are women. Equity of pay, and social assistance proportionate to need, are essential prerequisites to allow women to offer themselves for public office.
And one final churchy question: exactly how well is your denomination doing in including women at every level of decision making? We should be leading the way, not lagging behind!