Friday, April 17, 2015

Data on women in parliaments worldwide

Reading this piece, “Latin America: From U.S. Corporate Hegemony to Regional Autonomy,”* by Preeti Kaur, I came across a useful link to the data on the percentage of parliamentary seats held by women in countries around the world.

What surprised me was that so many of the top countries – those with the highest proportion of women in parliament - were poor. It’s interesting to look beyond the regional breakdowns. In the top ten are Bolivia, Cuba, and Ecuador, and also Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa. Regionally, the Nordic countries are an outlier at the top, but even with them included Europe still comes in below the Americas; with the Nordic countries excluded, Europe is pretty much on par with Sub-Saharan Africa (a difference of only one percentage point). And the percentages for the US and Canada are below the Americas average. In the full list, the US comes in at 72nd, below Pakistan and Bangladesh (Venezuela, home to teleSUR which published Kaur’s article, has nothing to be proud of here, falling even below the US at 82nd).

Overall, it’s fairly depressing, but there does seem to be real progress - which I can appreciate even as an anarchist - in many countries around the world.

* An important, and infuriating, part of the article described the speech by Ban Ki-moon at the Summit of the Americas this past weekend:
Rather bizarrely, the UN Secretary General then went on to spend a third of his intervention at the Summit of the Americas to discuss the importance of business involvement in the post 2015 development agenda, and in the agenda to address climate change. While the Secretary General recognised that the Americas have been at the vanguard of discussions on key issues regarding climate change, he also said that the ‘new global development agenda and the battle against climate change will need resources, technology and capacity’, and as such ‘private sources and partnerships’ would be crucial in the fight against climate change.

‘With business support for implementing the sustainable development goals, we can transform our world. Business is part of the solution to several major global challenges’, said the UN Secretary General. Such an analysis fails to articulate the ways in which businesses are obliged to pursue profit, even at the expense of harmful impacts to the environment, and people. There is an increasing recognition that capitalism has caused climate change, described incontrovertibly in Naomi Klein’s recent book ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate’.

The Secretary General’s intervention failed to explain how businesses might turn their minds to address the key issues of our day. Indeed, only three years previously, in Brazil at the Rio+20 sustainable development conference, Canada, and the U.S. united against reaffirming the responsibility of businesses to respect human rights, and protect our planet.

…Big business is the problem, not the solution. While technical innovation is necessary to combat climate change, much of this innovation is tailored to pursuing energy which increases profit opportunities for business, not which effectively reduces greenhouse gas emissions.