Dos Santos to moderate ‘Women’s Political Representation’ panel

Academics Campus & Community

March 3, 2021

Women represent roughly half of the world’s population.

Yet, less than 6% of all chief executives (presidents and prime ministers) are women. The numbers aren’t a whole lot better for women serving in cabinet-level positions (21%) or as legislators (25%), with those numbers varying from country to country.

That’s the backdrop to a panel that College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Associate Professor of Political Science Pedro dos Santos will be moderating during the 65th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

Dos Santos is moderating a four-person panel of political scientists discussing “Women’s Political Representation” during a CSW side event at 10 a.m. Monday, March 15. The presentation is free to the public, but registration is required prior to the presentation. Registration also allows viewers to submit a question to the panelists to address.

Side events are activities organized outside the formal program of the CSW, and this comes during Women’s History Month.

“Violence against women, including femicide, is still commonplace all over the world,” dos Santos said. “This topic was important in 1920 when women finally secured the right to vote in the U.S. It is important today because of historical inequalities, and will continue to be important until the world sees politics as a space for all people, regardless of their gender identity.”

Dos Santos has a background in this area.

“Because of my research on women’s representation and empowerment in Brazil and beyond, I have had the opportunity to present my work and share my expertise in various contexts, including previously participating in UN-sponsored and UN-led events,” dos Santos said. “I have also worked in previous projects with some of the organizers of this panel, which made the connection easier.”

The panel includes:

  • Dr. Farida Jalalzai, Associate Dean for Global Initiatives and Engagement and Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech University, which is co-sponsoring the event with Blue Ridge Consulting;
  • Dr. Tiffany Barnes, associate professor of Political Science at the University of Kentucky;
  • Dr. Malliga Och, Assistant Professor of Global Studies at Idaho State University;
  • Dr. Armeena Zia, founder of Blue Ridge Consulting.

Opening remarks will be made by Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, a political scientist and Pakistan’s representative to the U.N. from 2015-19. She was the country’s first woman to hold that position.

While he was not involved in assembling the panel, dos Santos said he is “excited and humbled to be sharing the virtual podium with these women.”

“I have worked directly with Dr. Jalalzai on various projects, including our co-authored book ‘Women's Empowerment and Disempowerment in Brazil’ (released last week by Temple University Press),” dos Santos said. “I interact on a regular basis with Dr. Och and Dr. Barnes, given our intersecting research interests. Dr. Barnes is also the co-author of a textbook I use in my Global Gender Issues course, and she graciously visited our class virtually last fall to discuss with students the book they read in class.”

As one of the few men who actively study women's representation and empowerment as their key research focus, dos Santos is always cognizant of gender roles in society and in academia.

“I see my role as moderator of this panel as an opportunity to help highlight important work carried by these scholars, and to bring important questions related to the topic so the scholars in the panel can help the audience better understand the barriers and opportunities women encounter in formal politics across the world,” dos Santos said.

He sees both pros and cons to moderating a panel online.

“There is a democratizing aspect of it,” dos Santos said. “Many presenters - including me - would likely not be able to attend the conferences if being in New York was necessary. There is a chance that the reach of an event like this is larger if done remotely, especially if we want a conversation that attracts a global audience.

“The impersonality of remote presentations is definitely a con. But in general, I am excited about the prospect of moderating this panel remotely,” he said.

Dos Santos was asked what the takeaway from the panel will be.

“I hope those attending learn more about the obstacles women face when entering a male-dominated space like politics, while also learning about actionable steps being taken around the world to address to make politics more representative of the population and therefore more democratic,” he said.

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