Women and the moral dimension of politics

Towards an Ethical Citizenship. Or: Why Women Avoid Politics?

Guest speaker: Prof. Univ. Dr. Mihaela Miroiu (Facultatea de Științe Politice, SNSPA)

Moderator: Conf. Univ. Dr. Claudiu Tufiș (Facultatea de Științe Politice, UB)

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This presentation examines the moral dimension of women’s very low representation in Romanian politics, beyond the prevalent explanations that link it to the patriarchal mainstream political discourse, the lack of financial resources, and the double working day. The talk is based on the conclusions of 101 interviews, 3 focus groups (coordinated together with Maria Bucur), and other quantitative research I have overseen in the past two decades.  This research has brought to light that women view politics as a “dirty gutter,” a “meat grinder,” and a place for conflict instead of cooperation. It is a place for dishonesty in terms of political promises, and in women’s opinions, politicians have a very low sense of duty towards citizens.  Women also see political activity as inefficient and sterile in terms of women’s political interests.  Our respondents strongly believe that a robust democracy requires a moral foundation and women are, in general, better qualified to overcome the split between morality and politics.  The respondents construct their gender roles in concentric circles of association for solving problems in the absence of proper policies. Instead of defining success as a vertical climb up the ladder, they understand it in relational, multi-dimensional terms. Because of their historic and continued lack of political influence, women’s approach is a care-based model of democratic citizenship.

*The event is co-organized by Oana Băluță, Associate Professor, Faculty of Journalism and Communication Science, University of Bucharest, Winner of ICUB Young Researchers Grants 2016 Is incumbency a predictor of political support for women? Does incumbency reduce gender bias in candidate selection?

MIHAELA MIROIU foto_MMis Professor of Political Sciences in the Political Science Faculty at the National School for Political Studies and Public Administration (NSPSA), Bucharest, Romania.  She initiated in Romania the first academic classes in Feminist Theories (1994), the first MA program in Gender Studies (1998) and the first Ph.D. program in Political Science in 2000. Her research area encompasses the fields of political theory, feminist political theories, and political ethics, post-communist transition, and gender and politics.  Her work is focused on illiberal democracy in Eastern Europe (show-room democracy) and of what she calls: “room-service feminism” and “costless state feminism”. In feminist ethics, her perspective is related to what she calls: “convenience theory”She is the author and co-author of 12 books.  Among them are: Thoughts of the Shadow: Feminist Approaches in Contemporary Philosophy (1995), Convenio. On Nature, Women and Morals (1996); Backward-Looking Society, (1999); Guidelines for Promoting Equity in Higher Education, (2003), The Road to Autonomy: Feminist Political Theories (2004); Beyond Angels and Devils: Ethics in the Romanian Politics (2007). She edited and co-edited other 11 books, the most of them on feminism, including a Feminist Lexicon (2002) and Contemporary Political Ideologies (2012). Since 2000, Mihaela Miroiu is the coordinator of Gender Studies series at Polirom Publishing House (the only one of a kind). She has received the Outstanding Achievements Award from the American Association of Women in Slavic and East-European Studies (November, 2010) and The Prize of Excellence in Teaching, offered by the National Association of Students, 2007

Civic and media contributions

Mihaela Miroiu has initiated with other colleagues two feminist NGO’s: AnA, Society for Feminist Analyses (1995) and FILIA, Center for Gender Studies (2000). She has introduced feminist topics on the media (journals, radio and TV), since 1993 and is well known as the prominent public voice on the topic. The volume Priceless Women (2006) is synthesizing her contributions and it is addressed to a large public. She recently published an autobiographic book With My Woman’s Mind (2017).

Mihaela Miroiu is well known and influent in the political circles, lobbying for nondiscrimination and equal opportunities. Since 2000 she participated constantly to the protests on behalf of gender justice.

She has been awarded with Women Inspiring Europe, European Institute for Gender Equality, December, 2010, the Prize for the Defense of Women’s Rights, The Review Avantaje, March, 2006, the First National Prize for the Contribution in Preventing and Combating the Discrimination and Promoting Equal Opportunities, by National Council for Preventing and Combating Discrimination, October, 2005.

CLAUDIU D. TUFIȘ is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Bucharest, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate classes on quantitative methodology, civil society, social movements, and democratization. He holds a master’s degree in Sociology (Central European University) and a PhD in political science (Pennsylvania State University) with a major in comparative politics and a minor in research methodology. He is a founding member of the Centre for International Cooperation and Development Studies (IDC) at the University of Bucharest, a founding member of the Romanian Quantitative Studies Association (RQSA), a member of the Romanian Group for the Study of Social Values, and the Society for Romanian Studies liaison to the American Political Science Association. His latest publications include analyses of the presidential and European elections in Romania (Alegerile prezidențiale din România, 2009 – co-editor, Alegerile pentru Parlamentul European: România, 2009 – co-editor), comparative analyses of social values (Learning Democracy and Market Economy in Post-Communist Romania, chapters in books published at Routledge, Brill, and Springer, and articles published in European Political Science Review, Studia Politica, and Calitatea Vieții), and a series of datasets on the members of the Romanian Parliament from 1990 to 2012 (Studii Electorale Românești: Parlamentari Români).

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