The Asian University for Women
Women in Public Service Project Summer Institute Day 10
The Transformative Power of Mentoring and a Critical Mass of Women
“The word has recently gained currency in the professional world, where it is thought a good idea to have a mentor, a wise and trusted counselor, guiding one’s career, preferably in the upper reaches of the organization” - American Heritage Dictionary
“One who helps the wandering traveler does, as it were, light another’ s lamp by their own, and it gives no less light because it helped another.” -Gaius
Discussion led by Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis
Introduction Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, introduces the first mentor. A mentor advised the young Telemachus as he went looking for Odysseus, his father. A mentor can be a role model, advisor, coach, teacher, counselor, supervisor or friend. This session will examine the critical importance of a mentor/mentee relationship to women’s advancement in public service and civic engagement.Group Discussions Role Play before the Plenary
Refer to materials in session 10
Role play: Students will break into groups and develop a mentoring program at AUW.
You will develop a mentoring program for young college students interested in public service. How would you like your interest in public service nurtured? What areas would you like to focus on? Would you arrange internship programs or a day of public service? Some examples: A dedicated day of meetings with women in public service; A forum for women in public service; Introductions to women in public policy, visits to national assembly, government offices, political parties, and leading women in public service. What skills would you like to develop?
What are the questions that mentees would come with? Create a short curriculum for the program.
Create a peer to peer mentoring program at AUW. What are the innovative strategies you would introduce? Example: Periodic roundtables for exchange of information, formal and informal networks (real or virtual) within AUW; guest speaker events etc.
Possible issues for Discussion:
• How do you define a mentoring relationship?
• What are the responsibilities of a mentor?
• The important role of a mentor in passing on the torch and nurturing a new generation of leaders
• What are the qualities of an effective mentor? • How would the mentor/ mentee relationship grow? • How can it be mutually reinforcing/ Can mentors learn and benefit from mentees? • What is the process of mentoring? • How can the mentee go on to mentor others? • How have you benefited from mentoring? • What are the benefits of serving as a mentor? • How do you guide mentees to public service and nurture their advancement?
Temporary Special Measures for Women in Politics: Valuing Role Models and Changing Perceptions
Introduction: Erasing the Gender Gap Quotas in Indian local government or the Panchayat Raj
Some Case Studies in Asia
The Panchayat Raj Act in India reserves 33% of the three-tiered panchayats (village council, council of cluster of villages and the district council) for women. Today there are close to one million elected women leaders at the village level. A recent assessment revealed that corruption has gone down and transparency has greatly increased because of women’s participation in panchayats.
Consider the following quote from Sushima Swaraj, a member of parliament in India:
“We have tried reserved parliamentary seats for village panchayats, and from my experience, this is a very effective measure. We have reserved 33 per cent of the seats in panchayats for women. Before this policy, we did not have women prepared for leadership positions; but as a result of the policy, political parties have to search for women. We got a mixed response. Some men did not want women to come forward, so they put forward their wives, sisters-in-law and mothers. But talented, educated women also came forward. Now the old argument that there are no able women to become candidates for legislative assemblies no longer holds. Because now the women serving as mayors and as chairmen of the municipal committees will be groomed as prospective candidates for parliament. More and more women have been elected to panchayats — and this is a valuable pool of women for legislative assemblies. Thus the reservation of seats is a very effective measure, especially in countries such as India where there is such meager representation of women in parliament. In India, only 6.5 per cent of parliamentarians, 39 members of a house of 543, are women. A bill for reservation of seats for women in parliament is also pending; discussions are ongoing. It has not yet passed, but I think it will see the light of day.”
The Women’s Reservation Bill was tabled recently in the Upper House of the Parliament of India, Rajya Sabha, on 6th May 2008. Legal reform on political representation of women, was initiated during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure as the Prime Minister of India with the adoption of Panchayati Raj Act, 1992 By this enactment women were granted 33% reservation in the Panchayati Raj Institutions or local bodies. The proposed legislation to reserve 33.3 percent seats in Parliament and state legislatures for women was drafted first by the H D Deve Gowda- led United Front government and was thereafter introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996. Since 1996 the bill has been introduced with difficulty thrice in the Lok Sabha and has, each time, lapsed with dissolution of the House due to lack of political consensus.
Currently women legislators constitute only 8.3% of the Indian Parliament. If the Bill is passed, one-third of the total available seats would be reserved for women in national, state, or local governments. The main opposition thus far has been on the issue of incorporating sub- quotas for women belonging to minority communities.
The quota system was first introduced by the 1972 Constitution (originally providing for 15 reserved seats for women, out of 315 seats, for a period of 10 years). In 1978, a presidential proclamation enlarged the number of reserved seats to 30 and extended the period of reservation to 15 years from the date of promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic in December 1972. The constitutional provision lapsed in 1987 and was re-incorporated in the Constitution by an amendment in 1990 to be effective for 10 years. In 2004, a new law increased the size of Parliament to include forty-five reserved seats for women.
Under the Conduct of General Elections Order 2002, seats are reserved for women in both the lower house of the parliament (60 of 342 seats, or 17%) and in the provincial assemblies (also 17%). Thirty three percent of the seats in lower-level councils (union, tehsil, municipality, and district) are reserved for women. Women are elected to the reserved seats in the national parliament and provincial assemblies by a system of proportional representation. In the general elections of 2002, 12 women won seats in the national parliament from generally contested 8 seats, in addition to the 60 reserved seats, making for a total representation of 72 women out of 342 seats, or 21.1 percent. Discussion topics:
• Do women have equal opportunities to lead?
• Strengths and weaknesses of the quota: how do you address the question that quotasmay seem to view women as symbolic representatives at the early stages of game?
• Quotas also may imply that politicians are elected because of their gender, not because of their qualifications, and that more qualified candidates are pushed aside
• Are quota’s enough? What more must be done to prepare women for politics?
• Are bottom- up- quotas that first create a critical mass of women at the local government level effective preparation for women to run for national office?