Patriarchal Barriers to Women’s Political Participation in South-East Asia

Case Study

August 25, 2014

Patriarchal Barriers to Women’s Political Participation in South-East Asia

Lessons from the Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Timor-Leste on Patriarchy and the Rise of Women’s Participation in State Politics:

The results of research carried out by the Partnership and its regional partners on Women’s Political
Representation in the Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Timor Leste, identified patriarchal
constraints on women’s participation in politics. Women’s political participation is inhibited by factors
including the family, the community, political parties, Parliament, Government, and the electoral process1
The struggle by women to participate in politics began in the 18th century in Europe and America, and
in the 20th century in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. According to figures in 2008, globally women only
have 17.7% representation. From this we can deduce that over two centuries of women’s struggles, from
fighting for women’s suffrage to reducing gender disparity in politics, progress has been very slow and in
some countries, has even regressed. Meanwhile today, the necessity for women’s equal participation in
the political arena has become an urgent concern when creating state policies and governance based on
gender fairness. Therefore, increasing women’s participation through affirmative action quota systems is
an agenda of great importance that needs to be applied globally.

This research will focus on exploring world views where patriarchal systems are reproduced and
socialized, in particular to women and girls. It is equally important to examine how women overcome the
constraints of these patriarchal systems, especially in the political arena. A historical approach is required
to provide a background on how patriarchal systems have been founded, replicated and passed on, as
well as how women have struggled to surmount the obstacles over time. The five countries in this study
serve as the locus where women are the focus of the research. We identify the state as an institution
where the sustaining of patriarchal views and tradtitions occurs systematically, including the creating of
the dominant world view. We also regard ‘women’ it its plural form in a national context, even though we
include the singular form in examples

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