Volume 11, Issue 1 (2019) Women and Politics: Obstacles & Opportunities
Our 2019 edition of the Journal was designed to focus on “Women and Politics: Obstacles and Opportunities”. The call for papers was published in the fall of 2018, shortly before the mid-term elections in the United States in November of 2018. The 2016 election of Donald Trump as the Republican President of the United States sparked both controversy and debate, especially among women, many of who became active in electoral politics.
The mid-term elections of 2018 underscored dramatic changes in the House of Representatives For the first time since 1992, referred to then as “The Year of the Woman”, women represented 10% of the representatives. The number of women elected to the House in 2018 brought the percentage of women representatives up to 20% of all the House seats. The election in 2018 resulted in dramatic changes in the House of Representatives as an unprecedented number of women and minority citizens were elected from the Democratic party, which meant that this body of Congress would serve under Democratic control at least for the next two years.
This issue of the JIFT represents a combination of research articles and book reviews that address both the obstacles as well as the opportunities that women interested in political change have confronted and taken advantage of from a global perspective. The Burns-Ardolino research is a study of the Women’s March on Washington in January of 2016, following Donald Trump’s inauguration as President. Using a cultural studies lens, the author reflects on how this march galvanized thousands of women, all over the world to become more engaged in the political process, both by running for office, supporting the campaigns of women candidates in towns, cities, counties and states in the United States and in countries all over the world. The increase in the representation of women in the House of Representatives in 2018 may well be the energy unleashed by the 2018 March on Washington.
Two other research projects were contributed by women scholars in Nigeria and in India where the struggles for political respect and representation are even more difficult than for women in the western democracies. The efforts that have been made by women in Osun State, Nigeria and in Naggar, India to become more active in the politics of their regions have produced some positive results, as discussed in these two research papers. However, the structural, cultural and political obstacles that persist in the two regions studied by these scholars represent huge barriers that women may be struggling with for the foreseeable future.
This issue related to Women and Politics is relevant for a number of reasons. There are important dates that will be celebrated in the United States this year and next commemorating the anniversary on June 4, 1919, one hundred years ago, when the Congress of the United States passed the bill creating the 19th Amendment, designed to give women the right to vote. That bill did not become law until at least 36 states voted to approve, a goal that was reached on August 18, 1920. Given the 170 years that women struggled to convince the citizens and the Congress that justice demanded the end of inequality in the political sphere, it is sobering to recognize that despite the victories and the progress that has been attained, there is still work to do to create a system that recognizes that all Americans are equal under the law.
- Virginia Walsh and Carol Shelton