The Platform


Politics, whether global or local, has traditionally been a male-dominated field that many women have found unwelcoming or even hostile. In most countries of the world, women face very few options if they want to enter politics. Even in Western countries, women still face obstacles.

In some countries, policies have been put in place to create more opportunities for women to participate in the political process. Affirmative action is one such policy. In countries like Afghanistan, Argentina, Egypt, South Korea, and France, quota systems were introduced to ensure a certain minimum degree of participation. Some political parties in countries such as Sweden, Israel, Australia, and Germany have also assigned a certain number of positions reserved for women to ensure more gender-balanced political parties.

Typically, patriarchy is the main obstacle to female participation in politics. Patriarchy can literally be translated as “the rule of the father.” However, in recent times, the definition of patriarchy in the context of gender relations is mostly defined by feminist scholars as the dominating role of men in subordinating women.

Patriarchy has historically hindered women’s political participation. Women’s participation in different levels of political activities is generally low throughout the world. Based on 2019 statistics published by UN Women, women only make up 24.3% of parliaments throughout the world. At the same time, there are thirty-eight countries in which less than 10% of their members are women.

It is argued that women are seldom seen as political actors but rather as pawns to be used by their male counterparts. Women are to a great extent excluded from the global political arena compared with their male counterparts. Women have been traditionally viewed by the patriarchy as the members of private life and therefore politics does not favor their involvement. For this reason, many political parties around the world still assume that women have a lesser chance of occupying a political office. This holds back parties to invest in female candidates. Such reasons seem to further strengthen the notion of politics as a male-dominated sport.

The current patriarchal socio-economic structure of the world is another obstacle to political participation by women. Education is another obstacle. In patriarchal societies, education systems mostly favor men rather than women. Therefore, to increase female representation, governments would do well to increase education opportunities for women. This in turn will help women overcome the stereotypes of their lack of eligibility in taking over decision-making positions. Women long ago began to question patriarchal traditions, values, and norms due to their levels of education and greater participation in the job market. The increase in socio-economic levels has created a situation where women rightly are demanding greater representation and influence in politics.

Culture has also significantly contributed to the marginalization of women in politics. In societies with stronger patriarchal and traditional values, women are not only limited by society in terms of the opportunities they seek but they also choose to limit themselves. The image has put many women in a defensive position about their roles in politics.

Such a defensive position has led women to develop a lower level of competency and self-confidence necessary for success in politics. Thus, societies with less patriarchal structure and more egalitarian values such as Scandinavian countries are more in favor of women’s participation in politics. Statistics clearly demonstrate that women in the Nordic countries represent, on average, over 40 percent of their legislatures while countries with stronger patriarchal social structures occupy the bottom of the list.


Patriarchy advocates a domesticized set of roles for women. These roles have been achieved through developing the dichotomous discourse of public (for men) and private (for women) spheres in which women should be restricted to the household. Such patriarchal views have shaped the current political, socio-economic and cultural structure in many parts of the world.

Although many societies in the world have recognized women’s political participation through different means such as universal suffrage or striking down discriminatory laws, it is the patriarchal structure of politics, socio-economy, and culture that directly or indirectly restricts effective women’s participation in politics. To increase women’s share in the political decision-making process, there is a need to challenge the existing patriarchal structures wherever they exist.

Dr. Hamoon Khelghat Doost is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Üsküdar University. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the National University of Singapore (NUS). His main fields of interest include gender, media, forced migration, political violence, international security, terrorism, and sustainable development with a special focus on the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. He is the author of 'The Strategic Logic of Women in Jihadi Organizations: From Operation to State Building'. Khelghat-Doost is also a Next Generation Leader on Gender, Peace, and Security (GPS) at Women In International Security (WIIS), Washington D.C., as well as a member of the Board of Academia at the Academy of Security, Intelligence and Risk Studies in Singapore.

Hande Ortay is originally from Trabzon, Turkey. She completed her first, second and third education in Germany and returned to Turkey with her family. Her preference for the university was the Istanbul University department 'German Language Teaching.' In 2018, she completed Hasan Ali Yücel, the German Teaching Department of Education Faculty with a degree. Ortay completed her Bachelor's degree at Istanbul University, Institute of Foreign Sciences and completed her Master's degree at Yeni Yüzyıl University's Political Science and International Relations program with the top degree in 2021 and is continuing her doctoral education.