7. Other Important Intervening Factors

Women in particular face an additional burden in the performance of their work as representatives. Special circumstances faced by women leaders relating to the family responsibilities and marital status are often more than what the men carry. Children, husbands, in-laws and male colleagues normally put enormous pressure and demands on women leaders thus affecting negatively their ability to perform their duties well.

As noted at the beginning of this booklet women are historically, socio-culturally and even economically constrained by several factors from becoming effective representatives. Participants recognised these constraints as operating different levels of the family, party and society. It was noted that at family level women leaders face enormous pressures from their husbands, children, relatives and more especially the in-laws. These pressures have to do with women’s multiple roles of being a wife, mother, caretaker and overall supervisor of the domestic sphere. At party

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level women face problems of marginalisation, often used as soft spots for fundraising, party choirs and sex objects for male party members, thereby creating conflicts and jealousies among women themselves. It was further noted that the society is not yet at the point where women are accepted as leaders.

Women also noted some psycho-physiological changes in the woman’s body related to menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, etc. which may disadvantage them during important political events, say during campaigns, etc.

Some positive trends are that both, the government and political parties, are increasingly willing to respond to issues specific to women, such as new policy on women in development, review of laws discriminating against women, etc., were also noted as likely to improve women's participation and involvement in politics. Women and men should nevertheless accept certain differences such as pregnancy as natural but not weaknesses for women. These factors have to be accommodated as relevant aspects of life.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Juni 1999

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