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2004-06-28

Courage 

Karin Miklautsch [DE] is the new Austrian minister of justice, nominated by FPÖ. She is a young civil servant from Carinthia and has held a position in the second tier of the regional administration, dealing with water rights. Under the slogan of promoting women, FPÖ has nominated in the past two female ministers who then fared badly, Elisabeth Sickl and Monika Forstinger. No surprise then that also in this case, Miklautsch's nomination has been met with sneers and contempt by the opposition and the media.

I beg to differ. Miklautsch has said herself that she will need some time to familiarise herself with the tasks of her new job, and that doing it well will be a challenge for her. She is described as an ambitious character, whose pet political topic has been gender mainstreaming. On her surprising nomination, she commented: 'As a woman, when one gets an opportunity, one must take it.' I can see her point in this. In conservative fields of society, such as the justice system, it's unlikely that the best qualified person for a job will be not a man. In this case, as we're looking for a female candidate associated with FPÖ, the choice of women who could do the job will have been quite limited. The result of such a search was bound to be somebody like Miklautsch, so there is no reason for surprise. She may be apt for the job or she may be not, time will tell. Schwarzenegger is turning out to be an acceptable governor of California. If every point of weakness of a female or minority nominee is pounded upon by the public mainstream, we're not going to see much progress towards a more balanced distribution of high-level jobs.


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