Thursday, March 22, 2007

Women and the Politics of Morality
by Amy Caiazza

Some are calling this the "new year of the woman." We have already seen one woman, for the first time, occupy the Speaker's chair during a State of the Union address and another emerge as the frontrunner for her party's presidential nomination. Indeed, for women leaders in U.S. politics, things have been looking up in the last decade. We've seen an increase in the number of women governors and the second woman to serve as secretary of state.

Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice have given us new inspiration to think about what the world might be if women were in charge. In large part, this debate has focused on what women's leadership might mean for policy: Would we have universal child care? Higher quality education and universal health care? Paid family leave? If women were really in charge -- that is, if women's leadership, lives, and concerns were fully included in politics from the local to the national level -- we could see even more earth-shattering change. We might see our country pursue a set of values that would shift the focus of political debate altogether. Women have the potential to push America to embrace values of mutuality, shared responsibility, and concern for the weakest and most disadvantaged.


Caiazza, Ph.D., is director of Democracy and Society at the Institute for Women's Policy Research.