Slow but Steady Electoral Gains for Women Around the Globe
Women have reached record levels of representation in numerous elections this May, though progress remains slow. Federal elections in Australia saw an increase of women members of parliament from 33 percent to 35 percent, a record high. In month-long general elections in India, women also broke parliamentary records, reaching a total of 14 percent representation. Local elections in Ireland delivered modest gains, with women making up 23 percent of local councillors for the first time, up from 21 percent in 2014. And in European Union elections this week, results indicate women will make up 37.7 percent of the European Parliament, less than one percent increase since 2014. Sweden elected the highest percentage of women MEPs, who will make up 55 percent of its delegation, and in Northern Ireland women were elected to all three MEP posts.
Taliban Attacks Increase in Afghanistan
Attacks by the Taliban and other extremist groups on “soft targets” are on the rise in Afghanistan. UNICEF reported this week that attacks on Afghan schools tripled from 2017 to 2018, and attacks on aid groups are also becoming increasingly common. Earlier this month, Mena Mangal, a prominent Afghan journalist, women’s rights advocate, and political advisor, was shot dead in Kabul. The surge in attacks casts doubts on U.S. government efforts to negotiate a peace settlement with the Taliban. Afghan women’s groups have expressed concerns that without women in the negotiations, gains for women’s rights will be sold out in a deal with the Taliban.
First Women Appointed to Pope’s Advisory Body
Last week Pope Francis appointed four women as councilors to the Synod of Bishops, a body tasked with advising the Pope. This is the first time women will be represented in the body since its creation in 1965. The announcement follows a growing conversation about the role of women in the Catholic church, as well as recent revelations of long-standing sexual abuse against nuns. In a February issue of Women Church World, editor Lucetta Scaraffia published numerous accounts of cases of rape and sexual abuse by priests, speaking out against what has been described as a “culture of silence and secrecy.” Weeks ago, Pope Francis issued a new mandate requiring Catholic priests and nuns worldwide to report cases of sexual abuse to the authorities.