Linda Silver Dranoff reviews Sylvia Bashevkin's new book (now that's talent piled on talent.)
Women, Power, Politics is a slim, highly readable volume. It is clearly intended for a general audience, and is a must-read for every politician, male or female, and everyone interested in advancing our democracy, including parents of girls who want to see them have equal opportunities in public life.
Bashevkin puts the issue in context: Politics has become devalued; fewer people vote; politicians as a group are less respected. Women's political organizations have lost not only their public cachet but also their public support and funding, primarily under the Mulroney and Harper conservative governments. Bashevkin describes the Harper government as “closer to organized anti-feminism than any regime in the country's history.”
Fortunately, Bashevkin does not just wring her hands in despair; she suggests solutions – interesting, intriguing, debate-worthy solutions and tough lay-down-the-law rules. She proposes that each political party must run a legislatively defined quota of women as candidates. She makes a convincing argument that existing public-finance laws make the people of Canada major shareholders in the political parties, and we as citizens and taxpayers have a right to demand accountability.
Proportional representation is another of her legislative proposals, and she points out that just about every study of existing proportional systems concludes that proportional representation is more likely to result in women's increased participation.