Category Archives: Political participation

The Pride Shield

This video was released on May 15th, for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The video begins with audio of several reports of anti-LGBTQ violence from around the world. It serves as a reminder that in various parts of the world LGBTQ people are still the targets of prejudice and violence. The Pride Shield was created to show that if we stand together we can end the violence. It consists of 193 pride flags, one for every country in the world.

I believe the Pride Shield is an interesting concept and effectively symbolizes a solution to ending the violence. Imagine if all 193 countries took a stand against anti-LGBTQ violence, as the flags symbolically do in the video.

Do you believe the Pride Shield could ever be implemented? What cultural obstacles would we face if we tried to unite all 193 countries against anti-LGBTQ violence?

Barriers Facing Women Running for Public Office and The Impact of Gender Quotas

Ellie Waibel

            Women make up about half of the world’s population, yet only make up about 23% of political participation globally. All over the world, the voices of women are being shut out and systematically ignored. In order to be an advocate for voiceless populations, we desperately need women in politics. However, this is more difficult to achieve than it sounds. Worldwide, women are being actively excluded from participation in government through social, institutional, and psychological barriers.

Globally, there is a perception of women as being irrational, emotional, and overall dependent on men. Societal norms push women to be homemakers who are dedicated to cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children. Even when women are encouraged to have careers, it is typically in the education, social welfare, or other “feminine” sectors. When women decide to pursue careers in public office, they are often viewed as neglecting their families and motherly duties. Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s prime minister in the early 1990’s, had to keep her pregnancy a secret in order to keep her political opponents from using it against her. In order to give women a voice in politics, we must end the notion that women are selfish for wanting to pursue a career in public office.

The structural features of political life tend to exclude women from seeking and obtaining positions. Political parties want to present the candidate they believe will maximize its vote, which means they will more often than not choose men. Political parties seek individuals who already have visibility in the community through one’s career, leadership positions, or political roles. Considering community leaders and those typically in leadership positions are disproportionately male, women are put at an even further disadvantage. When women do run for political office, they are often times plagued with intimidation tactics from males. In some countries, women face physical violence for running. According to UN Women 2013, in Pakistan and Nepal, not only are women running for public office subject to physical and verbal abuse, but they also must worry about threats of abduction and murder. In Kenya, candidates running for office often carried concealed knives. They would also wear two pairs of tights under their dresses in order to buy more time in case of an attempted rape. Often times, these women are denied protection by police and law enforcement.

Thanks to a newer trend in politics, gender quotas, more women are finally getting the chance to make a change in politics. More than half of the countries in the world now use gender quotas to assist women in obtaining political positions. The three main categories of gender quotas are: reserved seat, electoral candidate, and political part quotas. Each of them intervene at a distinct point in the electoral process.  Reserved seat quotas have the potential to guarantee women’s representation by ensuring that female candidates will get a minimum number of parliamentary seats. Electoral candidate quotas are implemented by requiring that a certain percentage of candidates on electoral lists are women. Political party quotas reserve a certain percentage of the seats they win to women.

Although gender quotas are an effective way to guarantee women’s participation in politics, not all women have an equal advantage. In the United States, the majority of women political leaders are white. Black and Hispanic women are rarely encouraged to run for political office. In fact, these women are actively discouraged from running. Because minority women are victims of both racism and sexism, they have access to even fewer resources to run for office. This is also true for LGBTQ populations, who do not even have equal rights in every country. On a global scale, gender quotas are viewed negatively by many. Some people believe that female politicians elected through gender quotas will face hostility because they were elected based on gender, not qualifications. They claim that this backlash will make it difficult for female politicians to be given positions of leadership within parties, and might even make it difficult when it comes to passing legislation.

Putting gender quotas in place is only the start to ensuring the participation of women in politics. America, and virtually every other country, still has a long way to go. Social barriers are present in nearly every country, through the general view of women as inferiorand less qualified than men. Until women are seen as more than just homemakers, there will be a struggle with political representation. Political parties must embrace and protect female candidates, as well as local government and law enforcement. We must encourage the young women of our generation to pursue political careers and change history.

Ellie Waibel is currently a junior at East Carolina University, majoring in Social Work, and minoring in Ethnic Studies. After she graduates with her MSW, she hopes to work with foster children.


Divergent post-conflict processes for women in Guatemala and El Salvador -Substantive Blog #5

Guatemala and El Salvador represent two emblematic cases of armed conflict in Latin America that, after leaving many victims, ended in the 1990s with the signing of a peace agreement. In this chapter Ellerby (2016) analyzes the differences between  these countries of women’s role in the post conflict stage.

The conflict lived in Guatemala had many similarities with the Salvadoran conflict. The author points out that both countries  were run as oligarchies for most of the twentieth century that found support from narrow US business, military and government interests. Both conflicts  were long, violent and repressive. This included , paramilitary violence, “disappearances,” systematic gender violence and targeting of women as women. Both confrontations included strong guerilla movements that  created coalitions between indigenous rural groups and urban middle class. Guerilla movements in both countries counted on women’s participation as revolutionaries and both countries had very active women’s movements prior to the peace accords  (Ellerby 2016:190).

Notwithstanding the above, the way in which both countries included gender issues in the peace negotiations was very different. In the case of Guatemala’s  peace accord, twelve issue-specific agreements  were included  as part of the same process, as well as, twenty-five statements regarding women’s security. Meanwhile in El Salvador’s agreement only one one statement related to gender was included (Ellerby 2016:185).

According to the author, there are three factors that may explain these differences. The first factor is the Access which refers to   the degree to which women are able to participate in the formal peace process. El Salvador ‘s  process was elitist and brokered by the UN outside of El Salvador, in contrast Guatemala’s process was inclusive and it made formal access for civil society to participate, even if it were in an advisory role. Elite versus inclusive processes mean women may have different ways to generate and promote their demands (Ellerby 2016:192).

The second factor is the definition of a Women’s agenda. In Guatemala, during the peace negotiations the Women’s Sector produced a list of demands that  included: a clear gender focus in development and repatriation and reintegration objectives and programs; criminalizing sexual harassment and domestic violence; expansion of women’s citizenship rights and political participation; protection for indigenous women and general indigenous rights; and increased access for women to credit, housing and land. In the case of El Salvador, since the women who participated in the  peace process mostly belonged to political parties, they failed to unify a gender position and they could not consolidate a Women’s agenda (Ellerby 2016:192-193).

The third factor is Advocacy, which is related to the degree to which the parties involved in the negotiation consider the gender issues as part of the process. Although Guatemala had only one woman negotiator , the gender issues were considered as complementary to peace agreement. In contrast, in El Salvador the several women who participated in the negotiations did not achieve that the gender issues had the necessary relevance and on the contrary these were considered as secondary and in many cases opposed to the revolutionary principles, for which they had a lot of resistance on the part of the groups participants in the negotiations (Ellerby 2016:194).

Guatemala and El Salvador  clearly show that the role of women in the post-conflict depends largely on the political will but also on the ability of women to establish a common agenda free of particular interests that allows them to defend it in negotiations and implement it in the reconstruction.


Ellerby, Kara. 2016. ” Engendering peace: Divergent post-conflict processes for women in Guatemala and El Salvador.” Pp. 182-200 in Women, gender equality and post-conflict transformation.Lessons learned,implications for the future , edited by Joyce P. Kaufman and Kristen P. Williams. London and New York: Routledge.

The Effect of Increased Women’s Representation in Parliament: The Case of Rwanda-Substantive Blog 4

Rwanda is one of the countries that has lived one of the bloodiest conflicts of the last decades that between April and July 1994 left more than 800,000 dead when ethnic Hutu militias and government forces attacked Tutsi Rwandans. In the article that I selected this week for my final paper, its authors -Claire Devlin and Robert Elgie- analyze what has been the effect of the increase in the number of women in the Rwandan parliament in the post-conflict stage.

In the case of Rwanda, although women were victims of murder, rape and sexual torture during the genocide, it was men and boys who were the primary targets for extermination (Devlin and Elgie 2008:241). Consequently, after the conflict the majority of the population was female (70%) and many women had to exercise traditional male roles in the economy and politics during the post-conflict stage. In the specific case of politics, since 2003 elections, Rwanda has been consolidated as the country with the highest percentage of women’s representation in parliament in the world: In 2008, 48.75 per cent of the seats in the Rwandan Chamber of Deputies are held by women (Devlin and Elgie 2008:243)

In order to assess the effects that women representatives have had on the Rwandan parliament, Devlin and Elgie (2008) interviewed 9 woman who were in parliament both prior to the 2003 election and who were also elected to parliament after 2003. The authors examined the women’s impact in three areas: Culture of parliament, political agenda and public policy.

Regarding culture of parliament, they found  that  Rwandan female deputies did not seem to have been relegated to traditional ‘women’s areas’ , on the contrary women  held positions like Minister for Education, Science, Technology and Research, Minister in the Office of the President and Minister of Economic Planning and Cooperation. Likewise, women occupied  60 per cent of the vice-presidential positions and 27 per cent of the presidential positions on the standing committees (Devlin and Elgie 2008:244). Aditionally,  the interviewed manifested that  ‘social climate’ of parliament changed positively which translated into greater solidarity among women and a more fluid relationship with men who increased their respect and interest in gender issues.

In terms of political agenda the deputies identified as a central themes of their agenda the support to initiatives focused in women entrepreneurs, education for girls and women, female solidarity within the parliament and  international female solidarity.

Meanwhile, in the sphere of public policy, the great achievements have been the status of category one  for rape or sexual torture, a law extending the rights of pregnant and breast-feeding mothers in the workplace, a law on the protection of children from violence, the  gender-sensitive Rwandan Constitution and the  ‘Law on the Prevention, Protection and Punishment of Any Gender-Based Violence’ (Devlin and Elgie 2008:249).

Ultimately, the increase in the number of women in the parliament in Rwanda has allowed that in the post-conflict stage, the gender issues have had a special importance and that not only the parliament but all the government instances have begun to work favor of women’s rights.


Devlin, Claire and Elgie Robert. 2008. “The Effect of Increased Women’s Representation in Parliament: The Case of Rwanda” Parliamentary Affairs (61:2), 237–254.


Pitt County Could Be On It’s Way to Elect It’s First African American and It’s First Female Sheriff in the Same Election

But not without racism rearing it’s ugly head, of course.


Major Paula Stokes Dance has announced that she is running for the Pitt County Sheriff’s position, which will be left open, as our current Sheriff, Neil Elks has announced that he will not be seeking re-election. There are other candidates in the race, so this is no shoe in, but, if Paula Dance would be elected, Pitt County would be taking another first step in moving the glass ceiling from minorities in positions of power and authority. Deputy Dance would be the first African American and the first female Sheriff to ever serve in Pitt County.


Although this is not the campaign platform that Deputy Dance is running on, this obviously makes this election a historic one and it goes without saying. Historic elections normally bring out more minority voters and tend to draw a higher voter turnout in general. These cases seem to spark a different appeal to citizens who may have felt disenfranchised, but become excited when they see someone running, with whom they can more easily identify.


This feature sparked anger in a local resident, who took to Facebook this week in a rant that criticized the black community allegedly showing support for Deputy Major Dance on the sole count of her ethnicity. This ranter, who happened to be a white woman called into question Dance’s qualifications. This turned into a very large thread of community residents commenting in response to this woman, who eventually turned to many derogatory racial statements. Unfortunately this woman was employed by our areas largest employer, who became aware of this large community turnout on Facebook. After a quick investigation, the woman was terminated from her job.

So, now, someone has lost their job and a number community residents are reminded that racism is alive and well in our very own community. Interestingly enough, this is just the kind of thing, I’d argue, that gets more people’s attention and would likely drive more people to the polls, as we become aware that we really need to get over more barriers in our communities. This is us! Get out the Vote!


Ivanka Trump trying to cover up president Trump’s misogyny..

I found this article particularly interesting that a woman of high standing to cover up and claim that her own father is a feminist. I found that a little laughable that should could state that even though it is of her father. For the man that claimed “grabbing pussies” was okay; that even though he is one to walk into female dressing rooms, she claims he is for female rights and equality. It is fine even great if Ivanka was actually a feminist and was using her clothing line to show it, but to say that if women avoid it that they aren’t true feminist. As a feminist myself, I fully support her to be an entrepreneur but not if it is to help cover up her father’s very visible misogyny, is disgusting.

Donald Trump, a Gift That Keeps Giving?

New records are being set in 2018 in terms of women running for Congress. Although it is heavily skewed towards the Democrats, both parties are experiencing significant increases in women running. EMILY’s List, an organization that recruits based on the candidates pro-choice platform, reports that 30,000 women were interested in running for the upcoming election or future elections, a significant increase since 2016, when only 920 women reached out. Although not everyone has been able to officially file for office yet, so far, in total, there are 431 women nationwide running for the House. This includes 339 Democrats and 92 Republicans. In the last election, only 212 women in total ran. Similarly, there are 50 women that are running or likely running for the Senate, in comparison to only 25 in the 2016 election.


This article in particular looks towards the current male-dominated political atmosphere as the main cause for this surge in women candidates. President Trump in particular, is attributed as one of the largest driving factors because of many of his views towards a variety of issues including health care and immigration. Equally, the increase in female candidates is due to the domestic abuse scandals within the White House and the President’s sexual misconduct allegations by over a dozen women. It is both a blessing and a curse to have our current president as his continuous misconduct serves as fuel to the ever-growing fire. Although the surge in Republican women running also attributes the increase to similar reasons, according to this article, they feel that there is a blatant exclusion from the Democratic women. With the strong divide between parties still evident even between women fighting to establish gender equality, I hope that they will find a way to work together, if elected, at a time when collaboration seems impossible in our Congress.

Agency and Accountability: Promoting Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding -Substantive Blog #2

This semester I’m interested in exploring the role of the women in postconflict societies because after 60 years of conflict, my country –Colombia has started the post-conflict stage but so far it has no been clear what role is playing the women in the reconstruction. In this paper, Goetz and Jenkins(2016) from the framework of agency and accountability provide an analysis about the participation of the women in peacebuilding in three areas: conflict resolution, post-conflict elections and economic reconstruction  and  they make a critical assessment of the role played by the United Nations as facilitators of this process.

The authors  start from the concept of agency developed by Naila Keeber(1999)  who see Agency as “the ability to define one’s goals and act upon them.” In this approach , Agency can be exercised by individuals as well as by collectivities. This perspective in turn connects with the concept of “empowerment,” defined as the process of increasing people’s ability to make choices.  According to the authors, for the excercise of agency it’s necessary two preconditions: one of them are the resources such as  education, health, livelihood security, and physical security among others. The other precondition are the opportunities  for  decision making. In the context of gender-responsive peacebuilding, these are best conceived of as “associational resources,” which improve  the organizational substance of local and national women’s groups, and “agenda-shaping opportunities,” which allow gender-equality advocates to influence norms and institutions. Goetz and Jenkins (p. 214).

There are three scenarios in which the excercise of women’s agency is key: conflict resolution, post conflict elections and economic reconstruction. In relation to conflict resolution Goetz and Jenkins point out that it’s necessary that women  participate actively in peace dialogues and agreements because this  is a way of ensuring that their voices are heard especially in what has to do with the restoration of their rights and that their issues are included in the post-conflict agenda. The authors cite different researches that have shown that in countries where the women have participated in the peace process, the chance of achieving a more durable peace rose. Unfortunately in many countries the women are not perceived as legitimate actors capable of building peace and they have not been included in the negotiations . In Colombia for example, representatives of women were linked to the peace negotiations only two years after having initiated peace talks with the guerrillas.(p.219).

In terms of the post- conflict elections, electoral quotas are essential instruments for achieving international commitments on women’s political representation and used as a measure of women’s empowerment. According to empirical studies cited by Goetz and Jenkins, in post-conflict countries that implemented gender quotas, women held roughly 30 percent of legislative seats while countries without quotas, women on average accounted for just 10 percent of seats. Notwithstanding the importance of women’s participation in the post-conflict legislative agenda, in this case as well as in the participation of peace dialogues in many countries, women continue to be stigmatized as unable to advocate for reforms that would recognize their status.(p.223)

Regarding the economic reconstruction,there is an area in  which the women play a key role in the post-conflict, this is the food security. Most of the agendas post-conflicts emphasize in the necessity to provide to women access to financial resources, to water and to protect their rights of property on land to guarantee their participation in the food production. However, this policies often are not articulated with commercial policy. In consequence there are not adequate regulation of prices and salaries making the participation of women in this area unfruitful. (p.229)

In the generation of the Agency preconditions and its excercise, the presence of international organisms is vital because most of the countries that have  gone through a stage of conflict  do not have institutional capacity strong enough to face the challenges of the post-conflict. In this way, the  Beijing Platform for Action in 1995 and  later different resolutions of the  United Nations Security Council have seek to involve women in conflict prevention, to protect them during and after conflicts, and to secure their full participation in post-conflict reconstruction. However the authors conclude that  the mechanisms to achieve these purposes have largely failed due to the lack of accountability on the part of the international organizations regarding  their intervention as facilitators of peace talks, donor conferences, and as providers of  women’s organizations of  the associational resources needed to an effective participation in the post-conflict agenda.(p.231)

I consider this article very interesting because it shows  how the structure can obstacle the development of the agency. In this case, the lack of accountabilibity  on the part of the institutions (structure) in charge of accompanying the post-conflict process can limit rather than encourage the participation of women in the reconstruction.

In Colombia we have had many experiences of this nature. As an underdeveloped country that has had to deal with conflict and drug trafficking for many years, Colombia has received aid from many international organizations such as UN, USAID, EU, among others and although these institutions develop interesting initiatives especially with the most vulnerable communities, the results of these interventions do not have the expected impact in my opinion for two reasons: first, because most of the time it is still a model of top-down intervention in which the community is rarely taken into account in the formulation of projects and secondly because they lack accountability which means that it is not possible to make an effective measurement and follow-up of projects and initiatives to know if they are really fulfilling their purposes.


Goetz, Anne Marie and Jenkins, Rob (2016) “Agency and Accountability: Promoting Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding”Feminist Economics Vol. 22, No. 1, 211–236


Censorship of the #MeToo Movement- China

As detailed in the article, Me Too,’ Chinese Women Say. Not So Fast Say the Censors, ” women in China are facing extreme pressure not to take part in the #metoo movement. Women who have experienced sexual assault or harassment are told to keep quiet and are often threatened or told that they will ruin their reputation by reporting. The government is playing a critical role in censoring the public, treating activists as traitors and deleting posts or petitions online dealing with sexual assault or harassment.


Culturally speaking, this censorship makes some sense to me. China is a collectivist culture that focuses on family values, respect, tradition, and putting others before yourself. However, it seems as though these women are feeling as though a cultural shift needs to occur and their bodies need to be respected. Do you think it is possible for a collectivist culture to recognize individualistic needs, especially with the government suppressing the movement so much?


Theoretically speaking, I think it is interesting that China is a communist country, yet women are so oppressed. Marx (and Mao, as the article points out) called for the equality of women. The article states that, “The Communist Party often embraces gender equality as a propaganda theme, noting the strides women made in the first decades of its rule.” I would have thought that with the theoretical backing and the branding of the party, there would be a little less suppression with this movement. I guess Marx would comment that this is because China is not truly a communist country. What are your thoughts on how theory plays into this?


–Hannah Morris

Following the #MeToo movement

Time Magazine Person of the Year: “The Silence Breakers”

I will start the semester off with this developing story, that will likely follow us through the semester. I want to call our attention to some interesting sociological questions:

–Why now?

–Why such a rapid fall from grace (job/career loss, even company bankruptcy) immediately after the reports come out?

–Why is there already a backlash among some women to this “moment” or “reckoning”?

–What are the possibilities of this and barriers to this as a global movement?

–Are all victims being heard? or just those with access to a megaphone?

And… this is an interesting editorial: what about the excuse that men didn’t know what the rules were, or that the rules have suddenly changed?

Susan Pearce


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