All-women shortlists are not ambitious enough to deliver the radical change our political system needs, argues Jane Watkinson
The use of all-women shortlists to select candidates for political office enjoys the support of many feminists, women and political parties: however, I have several reservations regarding their relative usefulness for increasing female political participation.
Of course, I want more women involved in politics as much as the pro all-women shortlist campaigners. The relatively poor level of women’s representation is disconcerting, with women making up only one in five MPs, for example. However, pretending all-women shortlists is the answer ignores the power relations women need to radically challenge.
All-women shortlists can undermine movements towards a radical reconstructing of the underlying power relations, which are a primary cause of unequal democratic participation. They are artificial, faux democratic protocols, which create illusions of change.