Have women lost suffragette spirit? Survey suggests their hunger for a fight is waning (From Essex County Standard)
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Have women lost suffragette spirit? Survey suggests their hunger for a fight is waning
10:30pm Tuesday 13th August 2013 in News
Passion for politics – Poppy Gerrard-Abbott, second from left, with Palvashey Sethi, James Rolfe, Henry Stevens and Kevin Cheung from Essex University’s politics society
ONE hundred years ago this summer thousands of women marched to Hyde Park in London to demonstrate their right to vote, writes Vanessa Moon.
The 50,000-strong crowd came from across the country, fighting for a cause that began in the previous century.
They won, but it was to take another 15 years before there was equality between the voting ages for men and women.
But in recent years many people, men and women, have felt disillusioned by politics and those who represent them in parliament.
A growing number of people have chosen not to vote and now a new study of men and women in ten countries has found that women living in the world’s most advanced countries know less about politics than men.
However, student Poppy Gerrard-Abbott, a member of Essex University’s politics society, begs to differ.
She says:“I would say the gender split among our members is 50/50 or thereabouts.
“But you would not believe how many times I have heard men say, women got the vote, what more do you want?”
The study, carried out by the Economic and Social Research Council, surveyed men and women’s knowledge of domestic and international news and current affairs in Australia, Canada, Columbia, Greece, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway the UK and America.
The research looked at the content and supply of news in all countries.
It found that women are only interviewed in 30 per cent of news coverage across those countries with the majority of interviews and news geared towards men.
It also found that women were asked to take part in longer news items and softer stories, relating to family, lifestyle and culture.
It is something 19-year-old Poppy feels strongly about.
She says: “I don’t think women are naturally drawn towards topics around family, lifestyle and culture, but they are more likely to read these things because they are the ones that have babies and, most of the time, bring up the children.
“Things are changing and more women are going to work but this is also causing trouble when women have to choose between a career and children.
“Maybe women just have less time to watch the news and develop their passions and interest in current affairs. It’s not their fault but women don’t have the same amount of leisure time to enjoy these things as men.” Poppy also believes that women in countries such as the Arabic nations also have a more urgent fight for their rights than women in western countries, which may be why they are seen in the hard news more than western women.
But she believes, despite western countries’ liberal attitudes, there is still plenty of discrimination towards women in politics.
She says: “We need to look at ourselves and see the discrimination in our own society. “Female politicians have pressures to live up to as role models for other women, whether they like it or not.”
Ismene Gizelis, a reader in the Department of Government at Essex University, says it is not about women knowing less than men about politics.
She explains: “Studies in developed countries such as Scandanavia show women get into more traditional roles and professions, such as childcare, than men.
“But if you are a woman in an aspiring middle class family in a developing country you need to fight for your opportunities more than in a western country. There is more at stake.”
Ms Gizelis, whose areas of research include gender and conflict resolution, adds: “In this country there are frameworks that protect you and your children so there is less of an incentive to fight for these things. “So it doesn’t mean women in the UK know less about politics than women in, say, Egypt either.
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