Mon, 07 Mar 2005
From: AFP

Asia's women leaders mask inequality

Neil Western, Agence France-Presse/Hong Kong

In the 21st century world the number of national leaders who are women remains extremely small, but with four female presidents and prime ministers currently in office Asia appears to be doing more than most regions for gender equality.

This picture of political power, however, is misleading since it does not so much reflect increasing female empowerment and grass roots representation as it does the region's enthrallment with dynastic politics, analysts and activists say.

While strides have been made in female political involvement since the first International Women's Day 30 years ago, the lesser-represented sex remains heavily in the minority in parliaments across Asia, recent figures show.

Asia has four women leaders: Prime Minister Helen Clark in New Zealand; President Gloria Arroyo in the Philippines; President Chandrika Kumaratunga in Sri Lanka and; Prime Minister Khalida Zia in Bangladesh.

Until last October Megawati Soekarnoputri was Indonesian president, while India last year elected Sonia Gandhi's Congress Party into power, though she declined the premiership.

Pakistan too has had a female prime minister in the not too distant past, while in the cases of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and New Zealand the current leaders are not the first women to head their nation.

Yet in all but the case of New Zealand, the women concerned have been the widows or daughters of former rulers and founding fathers, some of whose families have maintained a grip on power off and on over several decades.

"There is strong legacy of family politics in South Asia, where family background takes precedence over gender," Pakistani women's rights activist Kamila Hayat told AFP.

"But this leadership by women does not translate into empowerment of women in their countries, where levels of female education and social, political and economic development remain low."

In Bangladesh voters have had a woman prime minister since 1991, with two major rivals twice swapping the post: Sheikh Hasina Wajed, the daughter of the country's founder Mujibur Rehman, and incumbent Khalida Zia, the wife of slain president Zia ur Rehman.

"That both the ruling and main opposition parties are led by women is the exception, not the rule," says barrister Khusi Kabir, a leading women's rights campaigner in Bangladesh.

"More than three decades after independence, the number of women MPs is very low in Bangladesh because the political parties don't have the commitment to promote women."

Parliament last November passed a bill to reserve 45 seats for women, although this has yet to be implemented and it has been criticized for allowing parties to select the appointees rather than them being elected.

Philippines President Arroyo is the daughter of former president Diosdado Macapagal, while the country's first female president Corazon Aquino, who swept into office on the strength of People Power in 1986, was the wife of an assassinated opposition figure.

Political analyst Sheila Coronel said, "the country is ruled by political elites ... marriages are a form of clan alliance that expand the influence of the families and allow them to consolidate their resources.

Women who occupy seats in the congress are for the most part, at around 60 percent from political families, although with almost one-sixth of MPs women -- compared with five percent 40 years ago -- the country has better representation than many Asian countries.

Across Asia, no parliament has more than a third of its legislators as women, according to a survey released on Thursday by the International Parliamentary Union (IPU).

The region lags behind Europe and the Americas and hovers just below the world average of 15.7 percent representation at the beginning of 2005, the survey found.





News Search/Filter
Transaction Rates
10 Dec 18
Buy
Sell
AED1
3,945.27
3,945.27
AFN1
191.01
191.01
ALL1
133.25
133.25
AMD1
29.86
29.86
ANG1
8,164.82
8,164.82
AOA1
46.82
46.82
ARS1
388.05
388.05
AUD1
10,405.53
10,405.53
AWG1
8,050.55
8,050.55
AZN1
8,511.57
8,511.57
BAM1
8,431.27
8,431.27
BBD1
7,245.48
7,245.48
BDT1
173.05
173.05
BGN1
8,452.70
8,452.70
BHD1
38,436.54
38,436.54
BIF1
8.11
8.11
BMD1
14,490.96
14,490.96
BND1
9,195.00
9,195.00
BOB1
2,096.99
2,096.99
BRL1
3,708.22
3,708.22
BSD1
14,490.96
14,490.96
BTC1
50,307,731
50,307,731
BTN1
204.70
204.70
BWP1
1,360.84
1,360.84
BYN1
6,796.56
6,796.56
BZD1
7,188.51
7,188.51
CAD1
10,871.18
10,871.18
CDF1
8.90
8.90
CHF1
14,638.39
14,638.39
CLF1
598,453.78
598,453.78
CLP1
21.47
21.47
CNH1
2,099.64
2,099.64
CNY1
2,107.56
2,107.56
COP1
4.55
4.55
CRC1
24.21
24.21
CUC1
14,490.96
14,490.96
CUP1
562.75
562.75
CVE1
149.12
149.12
CZK1
638.47
638.47
DJF1
81.40
81.40
DKK1
2,212.98
2,212.98
DOP1
288.12
288.12
DZD1
122.24
122.24
EGP1
810.00
810.00
ERN1
966.62
966.62
ETB1
516.66
516.66
EUR1
16,519.29
16,519.29
FJD1
6,857.47
6,857.47
FKP1
18,431.57
18,431.57
GBP1
18,431.57
18,431.57
GEL1
5,472.02
5,472.02
GGP1
18,431.57
18,431.57
GHS1
2,903.91
2,903.91
GIP1
18,431.57
18,431.57
GMD1
292.45
292.45
GNF1
1.59
1.59
GTQ1
1,875.48
1,875.48
GYD1
69.10
69.10
HKD1
1,853.93
1,853.93
HNL1
593.77
593.77
HRK1
2,234.87
2,234.87
HTG1
192.66
192.66
HUF1
51.10
51.10
IDR1
1.00
1.00
ILS1
3,882.34
3,882.34
IMP1
18,431.57
18,431.57
INR1
203.02
203.02
IQD1
12.17
12.17
IRR1
0.34
0.34
ISK1
119.01
119.01
JEP1
18,431.57
18,431.57
JMD1
114.06
114.06
JOD1
20,421.16
20,421.16
JPY1
128.79
128.79
KES1
141.47
141.47
KGS1
210.90
210.90
KHR1
3.60
3.60
KMF1
33.58
33.58
KPW1
16.10
16.10
KRW1
12.89
12.89
KWD1
47,664.02
47,664.02
KYD1
17,392.14
17,392.14
KZT1
39.09
39.09
LAK1
1.69
1.69
LBP1
9.60
9.60
LKR1
81.17
81.17
LRD1
91.68
91.68
LSL1
1,022.65
1,022.65
LYD1
10,375.47
10,375.47
MAD1
1,528.63
1,528.63
MDL1
841.22
841.22
MGA1
4.06
4.06
MKD1
268.19
268.19
MMK1
9.28
9.28
MNT1
5.90
5.90
MOP1
1,800.00
1,800.00
MRO1
40.59
40.59
MRU1
397.01
397.01
MUR1
421.25
421.25
MVR1
937.92
937.92
MWK1
19.60
19.60
MXN1
714.22
714.22
MYR1
3,477.97
3,477.97
MZN1
239.32
239.32
NAD1
1,022.65
1,022.65
NGN1
39.75
39.75
NIO1
447.04
447.04
NOK1
1,704.59
1,704.59
NPR1
127.93
127.93
NZD1
9,914.71
9,914.71
OMR1
37,644.23
37,644.23
PAB1
14,490.96
14,490.96
PEN1
4,303.81
4,303.81
PGK1
4,301.65
4,301.65
PHP1
274.86
274.86
PKR1
104.30
104.30
PLN1
3,848.72
3,848.72
PYG1
2.45
2.45
QAR1
3,979.94
3,979.94
RON1
3,553.10
3,553.10
RSD1
139.56
139.56
RUB1
218.11
218.11
RWF1
16.25
16.25
SAR1
3,862.40
3,862.40
SBD1
1,823.83
1,823.83
SCR1
1,062.82
1,062.82
SDG1
304.37
304.37
SEK1
1,602.73
1,602.73
SGD1
10,566.56
10,566.56
SHP1
18,431.57
18,431.57
SLL1
1.72
1.72
SOS1
25.05
25.05
SRD1
1,943.00
1,943.00
SSP1
111.24
111.24
STD1
0.68
0.68
STN1
673.99
673.99
SVC1
1,655.92
1,655.92
SYP1
28.15
28.15
SZL1
1,022.65
1,022.65
THB1
441.39
441.39
TJS1
1,537.35
1,537.35
TMT1
4,128.52
4,128.52
TND1
4,899.73
4,899.73
TOP1
6,326.47
6,326.47
TRY1
2,722.18
2,722.18
TTD1
2,149.85
2,149.85
TWD1
468.43
468.43
TZS1
6.30
6.30
UAH1
520.80
520.80
UGX1
3.87
3.87
USD1
14,490.96
14,490.96
UYU1
451.83
451.83
UZS1
1.74
1.74
VEF1
0.05
0.05
VND1
0.62
0.62
VUV1
131.01
131.01
WST1
5,557.92
5,557.92
XAF1
25.18
25.18
XAG1
211,705.28
211,705.28
XAU1
18,100,350.99
18,100,350.99
XCD1
5,361.95
5,361.95
XDR1
20,162.54
20,162.54
XOF1
25.18
25.18
XPD1
17,707,317.07
17,707,317.07
XPF1
138.43
138.43
XPT1
11,483,991.63
11,483,991.63
YER1
57.88
57.88
ZAR1
1,020.74
1,020.74
ZMW1
1,219.18
1,219.18
ZWL1
44.95
44.95
Taxation Exchange Rates
31 Aug 16 - 06 Sep 16
USD 1
13,232.00
AUD 1
10,043.30
CAD 1
10,213.70
DKK 1
1,999.40
HKD 1
1,706.22
MYR 1
3,283.28
NZD 1
9,623.63
NOK 1
1,605.23
GBP 1
17,433.70
SGD 1
9,757.68
SEK 1
1,569.45
CHF 1
13,631.10
JPY 100
13,101.00
MMK 1
11.01
INR 1
197.29
KWD 1
43,920.70
PKR 1
126.23
PHP 1
285.00
SAR 1
3,528.53
LKR 1
91.12
THB 1
382.08
BND 1
9,756.53
EUR 1
14,885.50
CNY 1
1,987.61

Okusi Associates: Indonesian Business & Management Services