Electoral Quotas for Women

Given the slow rate at which the representation of women in decision-making bodies around the world is increasing, various positive action measures, such as electoral quotas, have been proposed or implemented to address the present gender imbalance in decision-making. Governments and political parties have experimented with different types of quotas; electoral quotas may be constitutionally or legislatively mandated or take the form of voluntary political party quotas. They usually set a target or minimum threshold for women, and may apply to the number of women candidates proposed by a party for election, or they may take the form of reserved seats in the legislature.

As the debate about the use of quotas as a measure to increase the political participation of women gains momentum, International IDEA is collaborating with Stockholm University in a global research project on electoral quotas for women. The project is the first global comparative analysis of the discursive controversies about quotas and how they work in practice.

Key Activities:

Country case studies from quotaproject.org

Designing for Equality

International IDEA also provides strategic advice on the combination of electoral systems and quotas available to practitioners, researchers and politicians. For example in Peru, International IDEA and local partner Transparencia have created a multi-party round table focused on the development of a new electoral code. Within the framework of this legislative project, participants have paid close attention to the impact of Peru’s electoral system on women’s political participation. The round table has presented and discussed different quota options that may be implemented together with a new electoral system, such as switching from an open list to a closed list system. A quota of 30 per cent representation of women on lists would be maintained, but with the addition of a placement mandate to ensure that women and men are placed in winnable positions, and not unfairly grouped at the bottom, or the top, of the party list.

To learn more on electoral systems and quotas read International IDEA publication: Designing for Equality: best-fit, medium-fit and non-favorable combinations of electoral systems and gender quotas.

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Having grown up in abject poverty in apartheid South Africa, Esack managed to secure a scholarship for religious study in Pakistan at the age of 15. He stayed in Pakistan for nearly a decade, before returning home to form a Muslim anti-apartheid group. His activism against racism saw him detained on several occasions, and in 1990 he left South Africa again, this time to pursue a PhD in Qur’anic studies.

For Esack, the source of his deep commitment to equality and justice stems from his early childhood where he was exposed to oppression and discrimination. In his reading of the Qur’an, God always takes the side of the marginalized and the weak over the powerful, and encourages revolt against injustices when they appear. But for Esack, movements against injustices must always remember to take into account the needs and the rights of the marginalized within the community, highlighting how women and other disadvantaged groups must not be left behind in the struggle for freedom and justice. For Esack, the notion of equality and justice in Islam fits with the idea of feminism. Feminism, for Esack, is a commitment to absolute justice and absolute equality between women and men and those who identify as neither women nor men. Importantly, Esack reminds us that justice and equality is not just something that we have to practice in front of God but also in this world that we live in today and share with another, regardless of race or gender.

In this fascinating interview, Esack expand on his past, his interpretation of Islam, and what it is about Islam that makes it compatible with feminism and other struggles for justice, equality and fairness, always reminding us to see how an intersections of identities associated with class, gender, sexuality and race impacts on our lives and those of our neighbors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WSFcJW5YRM
Interview with Farid Esack
Video

In this in-depth interview, South African self-described feminist Farid Esack discusses issues around justice and injustice, race and racism, gender inequality and equality. Esack is a renowned Muslim scholar and activist, recognized for his work to advance gender equality and end racism. In the 1990s, Nelson Mandela appointed him Gender Commissioner; today he heads the Department of Religion Studies at the University of Johannesburg.

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  • What is the biggest challenge for democracy in Mongolia today?
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNSGsgOqlTE
Interview with President of Mongolia - Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj
Video

International IDEA spoke with President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj on his visit to Sweden Stockholm. 9 October 2012

  • What is the biggest challenge for democracy in Mongolia today?
  • In this year's election, there was a significant rise in the number of women elected to parliament. But still, women only constitute 12% of the parliament. What can be done to increase women's participation in politics in Mongolia?
  • Mongolia will now embark on a new democracy assessment in cooperation with IDEA. What would you like to achieve with this democracy assessment?
Stockholm, Sweden
2012-10-09

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