Quotas One size does not fit all

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					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.