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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

“Comparative Gender Study of Parliament Member Recruitment”
Who represents what?

Takashi Ishihara
3rd Year Student at the School of Social Sciences

Hiroshi Imamura
Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences

“Does the ratio of men and women in parliament need to match the ratio in society?” “If so, why is that?” This lecture examines this issue from the perspectives of election systems, political systems, history, and other areas by comparing mainly Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

In 2005 and the 45th general election in 2009, the ratio of female members in Japan's House of Representatives was the highest on record; however, Japan's ratio of female members of parliament is conspicuously low among advanced democratic countries in both the national Diet and local assemblies. Japan's low standing in both the UNDP announced “GEM (Gender Empowerment Measures)”, which shows the level of activity of women in the political and economic worlds, and the Gender Gap Index of the “World Economic Forum”, which provides further indexing of the degree of disparity between men and women, is thought to be caused by the low ratio of female members of parliament in the Diet.

This lecture is being led by three professors including Professor Hiroshi Imamura. First, Professor Imamura's portion of the theme is on whether or not women should be represented in parliament at the same ratio as women in the population and, if so, why. He also touches on the relationship of election systems and the ratio of women in parliament. Next in Professor Tomio Akimoto and Professor Mieko Nakabayashi's portion, the history and current status of the advancement of women in politics in the United States and the United Kingdom is explained. In the United Kingdom, the selection of candidates by the political parties has played a large role in increasing the number of female members of parliament. In contrast, the comparative perspective of female representatives in the United States, who advanced down the road to being a representative through their own efforts, is very interesting. For example, Professor Nakabayashi, who lectures on the current status of the United States, has had the experience of actually being involved in the creation of legislation in the United States while working as an aide in the U.S. Senate (she is currently active as a member of Japan's House of Representatives).

For a parliamentary government, the truly important issue is not gender but agenda. I highly recommend this lecture for those people who are wondering why increasing the number of female members of parliament is important or why certain female politicians receive so much attention.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)