Twenty-Five Percent

"Of the 14,400 candidates, 4,000 of them were women. Originally the Iraqi Constitution, responding to the demand of women, called for a 25 percent quota for women. Without explanation, the Electoral Commission interpreted the law to mean that this percentage is not guaranteed. Nevertheless, women stepped forward. Their courage is awe-inspiring."
-Madeleine Kunin-

Kunin, the former governor of Vermont and the author or Pearls, Politics and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead, has a nice editorial with Vermont Public Radio about the recent provincial elections in Iraq.

With the serious threats facing those courageous Iraqi women who choose to live political lives, Kunin wonders: "Why, in comparison, are American women so accepting of the political status quo?" (The percentage of women in the Congress is 17 percent, an all-time high; the U.S. ranks 72nd out of 142 countries in the percentage of women in Parliaments).

She challenges women not only to demand 25 percent representation, but to work themselves to achieve that 25 percent goal, then push it to 50 percent. It's a theme we as women can apply to our own everyday lives: how many women are achieving parity in our everyday environs? How many are taking on leadership roles?

We have to start asking the questions, to get to the tougher work of providing solid answers.

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