Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Reform Worldwide

Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Reform Worldwide

Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Reform Worldwide

Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Reform Worldwide

Synopsis

In recent years, political parties and national legislatures in more than one hundred countries have adopted quotas for the selection of female candidates to political office. Despite the rapid international diffusion of these measures, most research has focused on single countries - or, at most, the presence of quotas within one world region. Consequently, explanations for the adoption and impact of gender quotas derived from one study often contradict with findings from other cases. Quotas for Women in Politics is the first book to address quotas as a global phenomenon to explain their spread and impact in diverse contexts around the world. It is organized around two sets of questions. First, why are quotas adopted? Which actors are involved in quota campaigns, and why do they support or oppose quota measures? Second, what effects do quotas have on existing patterns of political representation? Are these provisions sufficient for bringing more women into politics? Or, does their impact depend on other features of the broader political context? Synthesizing literature on quota policies, this book develops a framework for analyzing the spread of quota provisions and the reasons for variations in their effects. It then applies this framework to examine and compare campaigns for reserved seats in Pakistan and India, party quotas in Sweden and the United Kingdom, and legislative quotas in Argentina and France.

Excerpt

Recent years have witnessed a surge of interest in patterns of political representation. On the one hand, political transformations around the world have stimulated reflection on questions of institutional and constitutional design. In Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa, reformers have sought to devise new political arrangements in light of democratic transition, economic crisis, and post-conflict reconstruction. In Western Europe, pressures for devolution have culminated in the creation of new regional bodies which, along with increased European integration, have forced governments to recognize emerging systems of multilevel governance. On the other hand, new scholarship has challenged the dominant conventions of liberal democracy by rethinking the means and ends of the representative process. Rather than viewing politics as a neutral arena in which all citizens play an equal role, these studies argue that liberal political arrangements create systematic distortions in public policies, as well as the potential for equal political engagement. Alternatives they propose include civic republicanism, deliberative democracy, and multiculturalism, all of which promote a notion of equality in a context of difference.

These developments, both empirical and theoretical, have led to various innovations in political participation. The most common reforms, from a global perspective, have been provisions for the increased representation of women. Most of these provisions take the form of quota policies aimed at increasing the selection and election of female candidates to political office. The origins of many of these policies can be traced back to the United Nations’ (UN) Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in September 1995. The resulting Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, signed unanimously by all 189 member states, called on governments to take measures to ensure women’s equal access and full participation in power structures and decision-making, as well as to increase women’s capacity to participate in decision-making and leadership (United Nations 1995). Although some quotas appeared before this date, the importance of this event can be seen in patterns of quota adoption around the world.

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