Why I oppose gender quotas for our Houses of Parliament

I am not averse to women in politics but I find the gender quota talks somewhat baseless for a number of reasons:

Such a system would be tantamount to gender discrimination contrary to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom. Perpetuating such discrimination through national dictates would just be unacceptable! While political parties should be encouraged to involve competent female candidates in the political process, enacting a quota on any gender will be basically forcing parties to put forward candidates of a set gender even if they do not have the numbers of interested candidates to meet this quota.

Men seem to be more interested in politics! Why do I say this?? I have observed a number of political gatherings of political groups and political youth groups and always, the men turn out in greater numbers than women. Mark you, the women who turn out are well involved and demonstrate competence. Political gatherings such as these, however, are where most political aspirants network and get involved with the political machinery, suggesting therefore, that there exists a greater chance that more men will do the necessary political networking to eventually move up the “party ranks!” Let’s face it, politics anywhere in the world is highly dependent on your networking and contribution to the political parties (not just financial) and that’s just the truth about it! Again, I do not negate the contribution of the involved women but it is highly likely that in any one party there is a greater number of men involved in “contributing” to the ventures of the political group.

Our political system is not suited to quotas. Why? We don’t elect a party then designate numbers of legislators based on this win. Each candidate is individually voted for. What’s to stop a party from placing women on unsafe seats if they are against whatever quota system is put in place? If I’m not mistaken, maybe 50% (or more) of the women put up to run in the 2011 elections did not win because the seats in which they were placed was just not “safe” enough. (But that’s just a thought).

If you think we are behind where women in politics are concerned check again! Jamaican politics has been attaining significant milestones where the involvement of women in leadership is concerned and this I believe will continue.

But what exactly do I want to see? A competent Gordon House which comprises people who are willing to work in the interest of the people- not for self gain or other selfish interests. What if it’s 63 females? Or 63 males? Quite frankly, I don’t care! It is the quality of the work to move the country forward that I am interested in.

I want to see more women who are competent and interested going the routes that political aspirants general go through to be even considered by party leadership, not sit on the sidelines and ask for a free pass. (Most of the persons calling for quotas haven’t even made the first political step so I’m guessing a free pass is being sought).

As far as I can see politics is not gender biased. It boils down to the persons demonstrating interest and going through the involvement, the networking and the contribution! Jamaica has a female Prime Minister! Germany has a female Chancellor! South Korea has a female President! USA may very well get a female President in the near future! How come? They thrust themselves forward and aimed for their goals even in a male dominated field.

But I leave you with a thought hardly ever brought up in the growing debates. Men are more interested in barbering. Men are more interested in joining the JDF. Women are more interested in cosmetology. More women are also interested in nursing. Are we going to seek to establish national quotas for these too?

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Aujaé K. Dixon
Email: drajdixon@gmail.com
Twitter: @aujae_dixon



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