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'Dads Caucus' launched in the US Congress to push for family-friendly policies, and other stories
#WomenLead (Issue 130): Your weekly round-up on women in politics
Hello, and welcome to Issue 130!
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In this week’s edition, we bring you updates from Cyprus, Japan, New Zealand and Nigeria, and the spotlight is on the USA. In case you missed last week’s edition, you can read it here.
🎉 CELEBRATION-WORTHY: In New Zealand, Carmel Sepuloni has become the country’s deputy Prime Minister. She becomes the first Pasifika person to reach these heights of the political hierarchy. Sepuloni was thus far serving as the country’s social development minister, and was chosen for the new position by the country’s new PM Chris Hipkins, who took over the reins from Jacinda Ardern last week.
Sharing how her father - who came to New Zealand from Samoa in 1964 - felt at her new appointment, Sepuloni shared:
“To think that he could come here to work on the railways and the freezing works [abattoir] and marry a sheep farmer’s daughter and have a daughter who would become the deputy prime minister of New Zealand is very difficult to comprehend.”
She added: “But as you can imagine, [he’s] very proud.”
😕 DISAPPOINTING LINE-UP: In Cyprus, which will hold Presidential polls next weekend, 14 candidates are running for the top post, the most in the country’s history. How many of them are women? Just 2!
Things are no less skewed in Nigeria where there’s only one woman contesting next month’s Presidential polls.
❌ GENTLE REMINDER: And here’s a little reminder about why this newsletter exists (we hope you don’t really need one though!). Melanie Brock, founder of Women of Japan, shared this photo from Japan’s politics on her Twitter:
“Historically, women legislators have been the champions for paid leave, child care, and other policies that support working families,” Joaquin Castro, member of the US Congress, observed last week. “It's time for Dads to do our part.”
Castro is a member of a new caucus - the ‘Dads Caucus’ - launched last week to advocate for family-friendly policies.
Castro’s colleague Jimmy Gomez announced the launch of the caucus on Thursday, January 26, saying that the new group would fight for measures including the “national paid family and medical leave programme, affordable high-quality child care”.
Gomez took to Twitter to explain the idea behind the new group:
“The formation of this Caucus is rooted in a simple idea: Dads need to do our part, both at home and in the halls of Congress.”
"(Women legislators) deserve an extraordinary amount of credit, but they should also be able to count on male legislators to be partners in their fight from the beginning," Castro said at the launch of the caucus.
Andy Kim, another member of the newly-launched caucus, shared an update about the caucus on his Twitter with a dash of word play and humour😄:
“When does a joke become a dad joke?”
Gomez has been in the spotlight earlier this month after he carried around his four-month-old son tied to himself as the US Congress was stalled due to its inability to elect a Speaker. Several other members, including many fathers, had brought their children to the Capitol to witness the initial days of the newly elected Congress.
The caucus is a refreshing shift in the conversation on parenting and children, a subject that has mostly been highlighted, discussed and advocated for almost solely by women, not just in the USA but around the world (all this in addition to the already disproportionate share of child-care that women do).
And despite the skewed work women put in - or perhaps because of it - they often end up receiving not gratitude or support, but obnoxious barriers and pushbacks. (We wrote about how the political world can be very unkind to women with children).
Seeing men – and male members of the Congress no less - take the lead in making this conversation more inclusive is frankly, quite heartwarming. We hope more legislators follow suit.
But the Dads Caucus will have to do a lot of groundwork before they can start making an impact. All the founding members of the Caucus are from the Democratic Party for now but having members from across the political spectrum will help, especially given that the Democratic Party does not enjoy a majority in the US House of Representatives.
Gomez said they haven’t yet reached out to the other side, and they are focussing on getting more Democratic members for now and reaching out to select committees.
Photo of the week
India celebrated its 74th Republic Day with much gusto on Thursday, January 26. Our hearts were filled with extra joy as President Droupadi Murmu, who became President in July 2022, presided over the Republic Day parade for the first time. Murmu is the first person from a tribal community, and only the second woman to be head of state in India.
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