Quotas: One size does not fit all Quotas have proved effective in quotas can be mandated in a considered for nomination, either increasing the participation of country’s constitution (as in Burkina by a primary or by the nominations women in politics in countries across Faso, Nepal, the Philippines and committee and other parts of the the world. The mechanisms by Uganda) or by law, usually elec- party organization. Gender quotas which they apply vary widely and toral (as in many parts of Latin at this stage are rules that demand have differing effects in each coun- America and, for example, in that a certain number or percent- try. As a means to understanding the Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, age of women or either sex be rep- concept of quotas, the following def- Serbia and Sudan). resented in the pool of potential initions and associated terms are candidates. This has been used in presented, as classified by the • Voluntary party quotas are decided countries with plurality-majority International Institute for Democracy by one or more political parties in a electoral systems, like the contro- and Electoral Assistance, an inter- country. In some countries, includ- versial ‘women’s short lists’ in the governmental organization whose ing Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, United Kingdom. mandate is to support sustainable Germany, Italy, Norway and democracy worldwide. Sweden, several political parties • At the nomination stage, quotas have some type of quota. In many are applied to the nomination of • Gender quota systems aim to others, only one or two parties candidates to be placed on the ensure that women constitute at have opted to use quotas. If the party ballot. This implies that a rule least a ‘critical minority’ of 20, 30 or leading party in a country uses a (legal or voluntary) requires that, 40 per cent of legislators, or a true quota, such as the African National for instance 20, 30, 40 or even gender balance of 50 per cent. In Congress in South Africa, this can 50 per cent of the candidates some countries quotas are applied have a significant impact on the must be women. as a temporary measure, that is to overall rate of female representa- say, until the barriers to women’s tion. Most of the world’s political • At the electoral stage, quotas are entry into politics are removed. Most parties, however, do not employ applied as ‘reserved seats’, where countries with quotas, however, any kind of quota at all. a certain percentage or number have not limited their use over time. among those elected must be Quotas can target different women. Increasingly, gender quo- • Legal quotas regulate the proceed- parts of the selection and tas are being introduced using ings of all political parties in a coun- nomination process reserved seat systems. try and may also prescribe sanctions • The first stage involves finding in case of non-compliance. Legal aspirants, or those willing to be See References, page 88.