Δήμητρα Λαμπροπούλου, Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια Νεότερης Ελληνικής Ιστορίας, τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών
Βαγγέλης Καραμανωλάκης, Αναπληρωτής Καθηγητής Νεότερης Ελληνικής Ιστορίας, τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών
Ποθητή Χαντζαρούλα, Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια, τμήμα Κοινωνικής Ανθρωπολογίας και Ιστορίας, Πανεπιστήμιο Αιγαίου
Women’s under-representation in political decision making, a stake for Democracy: The public debate for quotas, 1988-2002
This study reflects on processes of historical making of meanings about democracy utilizing the public debate regarding women’s under-representation in decision making and the conflict about quotas which transpired during the last two decades of 20th and the dawn of 21st centuries as an indicative case-study. This public dispute takes place in the EEC/EU as well as in Greece. This inquiry focuses on the Greek version of the conflict whilst the one in EEC/EU serves as the necessary context.
Although this debate surpasses the period 1974-1989, which in Greek bibliography and public discourse is better known as the “Metapolitefsi” period, that is, the period of establishment and stabilization of the Third Greek Democracy, the environments in which the debate unfolded, the stakes it posed and the very experiences of the historical actors, were forged in this period, from which they receive their historical depth.
That being said, this analysis makes a case for the importance of the clashes regarding the content of “democracy” and “democratization” on behalf of politicized strata of “Metapolitefsi” period for the configuration of its political features. In our case we focus on one of the most long-lived and radical part of those politicized strata, the women-feminist movement. On the context of this inquiry, “democracy” is approached as a historical phenomenon, simultaneously institutional, semantic and related to social movements but, foremost, as a contingent occurrence in relation to both its own existence and its content. Due to its contingent dimension, “democracy” is understood as constantly attainable and never as a given, a feature which converts it into a theatre of conflicts about its conceptualizations.
This analysis attempts to track down these confronted meanings of democracy while examining the reasons why the participants of the aforementioned debates addressed women’s under-representation as a stake for democracy. In other words, the analysis attempts to interpret why and with what argumentation the participants of the debates understood the relationship between women’s under-representation and democracy as incompatible. In order to do so, the study seeks to point out their different perceptions of women as political actors and to clarify their understandings of “female identity” as a political identity. It also attempts to shift the attention towards their conceptualizations of “gender equality” and “women’s liberation” and also to underline the role these women reserved for the state and political institutions for the actualization of the goals of “gender equality” or “women’s liberation”. Eventually, it stresses the “gender of democracy” as a notion that shaped the political scope of the “Metapolitefsi” period, a perspective which eludes the vast majority of the inquiries about the period as well as the critical theory of democracy.
Structurally, this study is arranged in accordance with two core and interconnected questions: why the public disputes about women’s under-representation and quotas arise both on EEC/EU and in Greece at the end of the ‘80s and not sooner, and why the historical actors associate women’s underrepresentation with democracy. The answer to these questions is sought out in the processes which, on the one hand, converted women’s under-representation and quotas into a public debate; on the other hand, they correlated them with the notion of “democracy”.
The first chapter detects and analyses these processes on an international level and foremost within EEC/EU. Here, the conversion of women’s under-representation into a matter of public dispute and its emergence as a stake for democracy is comprehended as a result of semantic displacements on core concepts for democracy such as “rights”, “equality” and “representation” caused by raptures that defined the “short 20th century”, the two World Wars, social rights, welfare state, social movements and especially the first and second wave feminism, European Unification and the fall of the Soviet Union. Specifically, in the case of EEC/EU, the study argues that crucial role for the emergence of the above mentioned public debate play the changing attitudes of EEC/EU policies regarding gender equality depicted in legislation acts (directives, resolutions, decision, reports, declarations) of the 1957-1997 period and especially during the ‘80s and the ‘90s.
The second chapter examines the processes which led to the public confrontations about women’s under-representation and quotas in Greece during the “Metapolitefsi” period and attempts interpretations regarding why they were correlated with democracy. Its main focus is the formation of the women-feminist movement of this period and on its predominant characteristics. Its purpose is to clarify the areas of the movement’s intervention and to explain why among them arose the issue of women’s under-representation. The crisis of women-feminist movement during the second half of the 80s alongside with the international and domestic political crisis of the late ‘80s -mainly as a result of the fall of USSR and the ever increasing de-politicization of social strata during the ‘80s- are suggested as ruptures which led to the debate about women’s under-representation and quotas as well as their linkage to democracy.
Focusing on the public debate about women’s under-representation and quotas-as it unfolds in women’s and feminist magazines of the “Metapolitefsi” period and also in later contribution to bibliography of feminists of this period- the last chapter aims at testing interpretations about the gender content of democracy in Greece. Taking into account the perceptions of women participating on the debate towards core concepts of democracy such as “participation”, “equality” and “representation” this chapter attempts the reconstruction of their social visions and, thus, their conflicted conceptualizations of democracy.
Women's under-representation, democracy, affirmative action, quotas, feminism, women-feminist movement, "Metapolitefsi"