In my previous blog, I spoke about the translation of kleptocracy and used a case study of a fictional market vendor I called Mary to understand the nuances of not only women in politics but as functioning members of society.
So now, back to the Five Principles of Feminist Governance. And Mary.
1. Gender Targets
Setting [achievable] targets underpin the success of any goal. When you set a target, you inadvertently end up setting up a plan to achieve that goal. That plan is then divided up into achievable time-frames by which to achieve that goal. Basically a virtual start and finish line.
In the case study of Mary, I will use an example of building a road through her town. By ensuring there are gendered targets like: How many women were consulted during the planning stage?, or How many women-run businesses are based along x-kilometres of the road my project will be building?; I am ensuring I capture evidence that women are also being positively impacted by the development I am bringing to her town.
Setting realistic gendered targets ensures in whatever work you are doing, you are bringing along everyone with you - not just the men, but the Mary's too.
2. The beauty of persistent incrementalism.
In the nuanced society we live in, that 'glass ceiling' is almost multi-layered, if you will. We do not just have counterparts to contend with; we have our cultures, our patriarchy.
Therefore finding 'male champions' and working with them is vital. Mary can (and should) speak for herself but finding men who support your project is particularly important when you will be working in patriarchal societies.
Bringing everyone along ensures your work is heard and seen. Ostracizing one part of society, for example, excluding the men, is the most sure-fire way to hurt your work before it even gets off the ground.
3. Prioritizing and training women leaders.
This is a no-brainer. My blog here explains why.
And when you train the women, like Mary, train them to reach back for their fellow women. Teach them to go ahead to make things easier who those who come behind.
4. Maximizing independence through women moving millions.
We all know politics is hard for women and is particularly obvious here in our own country. See here. Half the battle is raising the funding to contest, whilst the other half is convincing your voter base that you will be an authoritative representative of their needs.
Think of perceptions, if someone like Mary were to run for the provincial elections for example.
Currently, Solomon Islands has four women in parliament. See here. The Honorable Freda Soriacomua (for Temotu Vatud), the Honorable Lanelle Tanangada (for Gizo/Kolombagara), the Honorable Ethel Lency Vokia (for North East Guadalcanal) and the Honorable Lillian Maefai (for East Makira).
This is already a historic number of women (four out of the 50-seat Parliament), but of course - as it always seems to be - there is more work that can still be done, to even those numbers.
To maximize women's participation in politics, women need a stable, steady cash-flow that is not misogynistically-governed or run by men alone. Solomon Islands still has a way to go on this account. See my blog here and here for what I mean by this.
5. Championing an ethic of care.
I read an article called “You’ve Never Met a Loyal Employee until you’ve met a working mum with a great boss” and the closing sentence in it says - more bosses need to recognize that by supporting working mums, they are creating an army of devoted of employees.
I remember saying at a supervisor's farewell, "Thank you for remembering that I am as much a person as I am your employee. I’ve never felt neglected, bullied, or taken for granted..."
I think this encapsulates this last point of ethic of care. Leadership is not a race with your colleagues; it's an "Are you okay?" when you see someone is not. It's teaching young girls and women that failing means you're trying, like I explain my blog here. It's cheering on Mary for her win of the provincial seat, as opposed to talking down her - or worse, behind her back.
A proud advocate for gender equality and inclusiveness, I believe representation matters and that the discourse around this should not be limited to ethnicity, but also to ability and sexuality.
We need to embrace our governing structures and put women (and youth) in positions of power to ensure policies and legislation is made with these different viewpoints considered.
By courting kleptocracy however, we are sending the signal that we are okay with the status quo. That we are happy with our lot in life.
Let’s oust the kleptocracy instead and stand by the values our democracy entails - including equitable participation of women in all levels of decision-making.
As I touched on in a previous blog, as women, our tolerance levels are always at very high levels. Which is why I wanted to talk about how our views may be very different to those of our men, simply because we have had different experiences to them.
And that is the beauty of diversity - to be inclusive of all experiences and work together towards the same goal of bettering our country and our people's futures.
Futures of those of my working-class peers, and futures of the Mary's in our society.