Election 2010: Women in government
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The single biggest obstacle for women in politics


Hariett Harman speaking at the Labor Conference © Labor
Hariett Harman speaking at the Labor Conference © Labor
Female MP’s are just as dedicated and ambitious as any male member of parliament but they’re not reaching the same heights. Could high profile MP’s like Harman and Featherstone reach the top levels of politics if they had the same support as their male counterparts?

While prominent male politicians can rely on their wives for child care leaving them free to concentrate on their work, Featherstone argues that it is harder for female politicians to reach the top jobs when they don’t have the same support network at home.

Herself a mother of two daughters, she believes that better support and provision of child care in parliament would increase the amount of female MPs and allow women already in politics to flourish. Of those women who do get help managing their home lives, many feel guilt that they’re not fulfilling their role as wife and mother. Society’s obsession with the ‘Super Women’ who does it all has left its mark on the working mother/wife even in Westminster.

"I’m lucky because my daughters are 20 and 26 now but if they were little children that would be very tough. You would have to get help in but there are plenty of women who have top jobs, tough jobs who do have help but nevertheless still feel quite guilty." says Featherstone.

"If you look at the men in parliament you know they are there because a substantial number of them have wives looking after their homes, and their children, and you look at the women in parliament and you know that they still have to deal with that side of things. In actuality I think it is quite hard for women to make the arrangements for the sort of hours and lives that parliament demands."


Women in Focus Editor
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