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Women politicians can raise uncomfortable issues: Baroness D’Souza

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Baroness D'Souza, CMG, the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords

Women politicians are often able to raise “uncomfortable” issues in the public domain which their male counterparts have not thought of or don’t wish to bring up, said a British woman parliamentarian.

“It may well be that women have a particular interest and they are able to bring up uncomfortable subjects in public arenas because they care about it,” Baroness D’Souza, CMG, the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords said at a panel discussion in Kolkata.

Baroness D'Souza, CMG, the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords
Baroness D’Souza, CMG, the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords

As an example, D’Souza talked about famed thriller writer Ruth Rendell, a House of Lords member for the Labour Party and a strong voice on the issue of female genital mutilation.

She started talking about female genital mutilation in the House of Lords about 10 years ago, D’Souza said.

D’Souza was speaking on the theme of gender equality in politics, a discussion organised by Ananta Aspen Centre and the British Deputy High Commission here.

D’Souza is leading a delegation of 10 members from the House of Lords and the House of Commons to Kolkata and Guwahati to strengthen links and co-operation between Indian and British parliamentarians.

Describing the struggle for representation of women in British politics as “long, vicious, arduous and ultimately successful”, D’Souza stressed politicians should come from all walks of life.

“Politicians need to have a life before they join politics… not that politics isn’t a life. There are some people who know nothing other than politics. You do need people who have things to offer other than politics… who have been out there… run things,” she said.

She said the House of Lords comprises women members who are scientists, philosophers, financial analysts and from a variety of other disciplines.

Quizzed on reservation for women members in political parties, she said it doesn’t necessarily mean the reserved seats would be filled by women who are right for the job.

“In a way you are designating a certain percentage of seats for women regardless of whether there are women who are the right persons to fill it,” she said, adding it could instead lead to “less good” politics in terms of contributing to the political debate.

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