Webinar: Women in the 2014 Midterm Elections

“We need both parties to get to parity,” emphasized Parity Research Director Malliga Och, highlighting the gains for Republican women this cycle as a positive step forward for women’s representation. In the video below, get facts and analyses on the 2014 midterm election results from leading experts on women in politics: Malliga, Cynthia Terrell (Representation 2020), Claire Bresnahan (Women’s Campaign Fund and She Should Run), and Kiley Lane Parker (Raising Ms. President).

Watch the full webinar here.

Give and take, not tug-of-war

By Malliga Och

Gina Raimondo, Andy Moffit

Running for office requires long hours, determination, and most of all, a supportive environment of friends and family. Spouses have long helped candidates carry the weight of campaigning: they provide a shoulder to cry on, take care of daily household needs, act as trusted confidants, and often serve as campaign surrogates. While we are all familiar with the image of a smiling and waving wife on stage with her politically-driven husband, the reverse scenario is still mostly uncharted territory. What roles do husbands play when their spouses run for office? What is their role once their wives are elected officials? Continue reading

A growing political force?

By Malliga Och

America Votes
Today, 17.3 million people (or 5.7%) in the US identify as Asian American. While the Asian American community is relatively small compared to African Americans and Hispanics, they are one of the fastest growing populations in America. To mark Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Political Parity is spotlighting the accomplishments of Asian American women in politics. For one week (between May 22nd – 29th), we will build awareness through the stories of trailblazing Asian American women and encourage you to learn more about these role models. Continue reading

Do high chairs belong in higher office?

By Malliga Och

Female Electeds in Scotland

Though the faces of politics today reflect a broader picture of the American electorate, the rules, procedures, and work environment of our highest-level deliberative bodies still reflect the systems of the past. In seeking to explain women’s continued underrepresentation, much emphasis is directed at women’s willingness (or unwillingness) to step forward as candidates.  However, what happens once women are elected is also critically important. For mothers, who frequently come home to a second shift after their professional work day ends, concerns about workplace policies, flexibility, and demands take on heightened importance. To better understand the dearth of women in politics, we should ask whether Congressional office is a welcoming profession to mothers who are balancing multiple responsibilities. Continue reading

From misfit to the most powerful woman in Germany

By Malliga Och

Sexist media coverage is certainly not a US phenomenon. As a partner in the Name It. Change It. initiative, Political Parity is all too familiar with the double standard placed on women across all platforms of journalism. Yet, in other countries, despite unfair and even cruel media coverage women continue to ascend to the most powerful positions. Ninety-nine countries around the world have had a female leader, while the United States still hasn’t elected its first woman president. Continue reading

A Conversation with Diana Hwang

First published on Political Parity Blog on May 28, 2015

2012 AAWPI Graduation with Mayor Lisa Wong

Diana Hwang founded the Asian American Women’s Political Initiative (AAWPI) after she noticed that Asian-American women were noticeably absent in Massachusetts politics both behind the scenes and on center stage. The State House Fellowship Program, a key program of AAWPI, matches Asian-American women with state legislators to provide first-hand political experience.  Political Parity’s Research Director, Malliga Och caught up with Diana to have a candid conversation about the unique barriers to political and civic engagement Asian-American women face and how to overcome these obstacles. Continue reading

94 Years Later, Women Need to Rock the Vote

Women—more precisely, single, unmarried women—have been on the minds of both Democratic and Republican pundits lately. Why? Because 67% of “all the single ladies” (a.k.a. Beyoncé voters) voted for Obama in the last election. On top of that, single women, who are one quarter of all eligible voters, could greatly influence who ends up holding the Senate majority in upcoming elections. This is a marked changed from the 2004 election, where pundits bemoaned the apathy of unmarried and young women who apparently cared more about shopping than exercising their right to vote—quickly termed Sex and the City voters by the media. Continue reading

The Silent Revolution in the Parliaments of Latin America and Africa


(Photo Source: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/senegal/090327/women-politics)

I was recently doing some research on the state of women in political office. As usual, I went to the IPU database on Women in Parliaments and when I looked at the top ten countries with the highest number of women in parliament something startled me: seven out of the top ten countries are neither located in Europe nor are they Western advanced democracies for that matter. Based on the percentage of women in the lower parliament, the top ten (as of May 1, 2014) are: Continue reading

Angela Merkel’s calculated support for board quotas.


The recent move by Germany to consider adopting a women’s quota for German company boards should mainly be seen as a compromise brokered between the conservative party of Angela Merkel (CDU) and its coalition party the social democratic party (SPD). Angela Merkel has repeatedly obstructed moves towards a quota in the past and Merkel’s sudden support for a quota must be seen as a necessary concession to the Social Democrats on whose good-will she depends to form a new government. Thus, the recent change in attitudes towards quotas is a reflection of political strategies rather than a newfound commitment to gender equality within the Christian Democratic Union.

Read more at the Guardian.

Restrictions on Women’s Rights around the World


The World Economic Forum just published its annual 2013 Gender Gap Report highlighting the many ways in which gender equality is still an issue across the globe. A recent article in the Washington Post picks up on this theme and discusses several restrictions on legal rights for women globally. For example:

1. India (some parts): Road safety rules don’t apply to women. In some states of India, women are excepted from safety rules that mandate motorcycle passengers wear helmets — an exemption that kills or injures thousands each year. Women’s rights advocates have argued the exemption springs from a culture-wide devaluation of women’s lives. Supporters of the ban say they’re just trying to preserve women’s carefully styled hair and make-up — which isn’t exactly a feminist response.

2. Yemen: A woman is considered only half a witness. That’s the policy on legal testimony in Yemen, where a woman is not, to quote a 2005 Freedom House report, “recognized as a full person before the court.” In general, a single woman’s testimony isn’t taken seriously unless it’s backed by a man’s testimony or concerns a place or situation where a man would not be. And women can’t testify at all in cases of adultery, libel, theft or sodomy.

3. Saudi Arabia and Vatican City: Women can’t vote… still. This is amazingly the case in Saudi Arabia, though a royal decree, issued in 2011, will let women vote in Saudi elections in 2015. Vatican City is the only other country that allows men, but not women, to vote.

Read more.

Transforming the idea of fatherhood – California’s experience with paid parental leave

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Photo Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

While federal paid parental leave or paid paternity leave is still elusive in the United States, states such as California have moved ahead and are now offering mothers as well as fathers the ability to stay at home with their newborn children – while not having to sacrifice their paycheck. Yet this welcomed policy change in California cannot hide the fact that the United States continues to be a laggard in the area of parental leave and is now the only industrialized country which does not offer such benefits (Spurlock 2013). Continue reading

Rwanda continues to lead the world when it comes to women in parliament

Last month’s election in Rwanda brought a record-setting 64% of women into Rwanda’s parliament. This is even more astounding considering the fact that only 21.4% of parliamentarians worldwide are women  with the average for Sub-Saharan Africa being 21.9% (IPU 2013). It is both true that Rwanda has a reserved seats quota of 30% for women and that electoral quotas, and especially reserved seats, do increase the number of women in parliament overall; but rarely do we see countries outperforming their quotas so significantly as Rwanda has done in the past. Thus, we must applaud Rwanda for its continuous commitment to gender equality in politics and as a continuous example of a country not afraid to trust women in politics. Continue reading