Women make up less than a quarter of representatives in legislatures worldwide, but new research from the U.K shows getting more women into politics can have far-reaching benefits for the whole of society.
A new report from Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London analysed over 500 pieces of research into the impacts of women leaders. It shows that women in politics play a key role in creating a political system that delivers on issues that create a more equal and caring society.
Women in politics bring more consideration to creating better outcomes for women and girls, but also to issues that directly improve the lives of men and boys.
On average, women politicians work harder than men to accurately represent their constituents, which is linked to a stronger sense among voters that the government is responsive to their needs.
Increased representation of women helps to counteract corruption in politics, while states that have higher numbers of women in office are less likely to go to war and less likely to commit human rights abuses.
Women in politics tend to prioritise social issues like healthcare, education and welfare. The report indicates this focus may be because women, on average, tend to have greater experiences of deprivation than men and are more likely to have taken on caring responsibilities in their life.
The authors of this report say it was comissioned in early 2020, before the world descended into the depths of the COVID-19 crisis. They now say the report’s contents could not be more timely, as the world grapples with how to recover from the pandemic.
Politics is so often tarnished by division and one-upmanship, but during this time, women leaders have brought a collaborative and inclusive leadership style to parliaments around the world. And this is exactly what the report says women leaders do.
“Understanding the gendered nature of political leadership and decision-making is more important than ever as we collectively rebuild and hopefully move towards are more sustainable, resilient and inclusive future,” said Shannon O’Connell, Director of Programmes at Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
Professor Rosie Campbell, Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, said: “This is a unique and important piece of work that makes an unequivocal case for the multitude of ways that politics, governance, economies and societies thrive when women take their place as leaders.”