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July 11, 2007 / Mridul

Is Gender Still An Issue In Presidential Elections?

I was quite surprised to see that gender is still seen as an issue by voters in America. With a woman candidate in the race for Presidency I had thought that this issue was dead but, I think I was wrong.

In a recent Mason-Dixon poll, as many as 56% men said that they wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton compared to 47% of women. In comparison, only 44% of men said they would not vote for Barack Obama, her closest Democratic rival.

In an article I wrote asking Newsviners to vote for their favorite Democratic candidate (I didn’t get the response I had anticipated); Hillary Clinton didn’t get even one vote. I was very surprised by the poll result because I had thought it would by a close race between Obama and Clinton but while Obama got 43% of the votes, Hillary got 0%.

Maybe America is still not ready for a woman President. I had thought that the American voters would be ‘ok’ with a woman president since it is a very developed country in terms of women rights. If the Senate could choose a woman as the speaker I see no problem why still some people have reservations on the issue of a woman occupying the highest post in the country.

I hate to believe this poll as I can’t imagine America, the nation which offers an equal opportunity even to outsiders, being biased on an issue like gender. The world (including United States) needs to do more for increasing women participation in the government.

Quite same is the story in India where Presidential elections are just round the corner. Although the woman candidate from the ruling part, Pratibha Patil, seems certain to win but she is highly unpopular with the opposition parties (which is rare since, in India, presidents are chosen with almost complete consensus across party lines).

It would be interesting to see what the future holds for both these women competing for the top jobs in two of the world’s greatest democracies.

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