Women globally struggle to achieve their political aspirations due to obstacles such as poor economic status and patriarchal stereotypes. Tanzania, for example, has only a dismal 16 percent representation of women in parliament, a slight 6 percent increase since it gained its independence from Britain 39 years ago. According to a study by the Tanzanian Inter-Party Committee, unequal incomes for women and high campaign costs have dismayed and alienated most women who seek political office.
This trend in Africa is similar to trends in Europe and Asia. In Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian country where the average monthly salary is $21, registration for candidacy costs $650 – more than 30 times the average person’s salary. Only five of 36 women candidates gained political seats last February’s elections. At the Beijing Conference in 1995, governments resolved to establish quotas that would balance power for men and women at the highest levels of decision-making. Tanzania’s failure to attain its goal of 30 percent female representation is no exception; the study identifies a long list of countries, ranging from Uganda to Argentina to the United Kingdom, as also failing to live up to their goals.