Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers. A Revised Edition.

Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers. A Revised Edition.

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Published: 2005
Language: English
Pages: 264
ISBN: 91-85391-19-0
Binding: Paperback
Editors: Julie Ballington and Azza Karam Contributors: Julie Ballington, Elisa Carrio, Nestorine Compaoré, Drude Dahlerup, Frene Ginwala, Mala N. Htun, Kareen Jabre, Azza Karam, Joni Lovenduski, Richard E. Matland, Sheila Meintjes, Nina Pacari, Sonia Palmieri, Khofifah Indar Parawansa, Elisabeth Powley, Shirin Rai, Amal Sabbagh, Nadezhda Shvedova, Mariette Sineau and Lena Wägnerud.
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Additional Material

This updated edition of Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers Handbook covers the ground of women’s access to the legislature in three steps: It looks into the obstacles women confront when entering Parliament – be they political, socio-economic or ideological and psychological. It presents solutions to overcome these obstacles, such as changing electoral systems and introducing quotas, and it details strategies for women to influence politics once they are elected to parliament, an institution which is traditionally male dominated.

The first Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers handbook was produced as part of IDEA’s work on women and political participation in 1998. Since its release in English in 1998, there has been an ongoing interest and demand for the handbook, and responding to the request for the translation of the handbook, IDEA has produced Spanish, French and Indonesian language versions and a Russian overview of the handbook during 2002-2003. 

Since the first handbook was published, the picture regarding women’s political participation has slowly changed. Overall the past decade has seen gradual progress with regard to women’s presence in national parliaments. This second edition incorporates relevant global changes in the past years presenting new and updated case studies.

Little research had been done so far on the way in which and the extent to which women MPs influence politics. With this Handbook, the focus shifts from getting more women elected to the parliament, to giving those elected the means to make a greater impact on politics. Key findings include:

  •  It is not all about numbers - While a critical mass of women is necessary to ensure women’s representation, the quality of the representation is just as important. Training is crucial to avoid the trap of electing “token women”.
  • Gender perspectives, not gender issues - Women elected to parliament change politics globally: they introduce a women’s perspective into all areas of political life, they are not limited to gender issues.
  • Representation means more than elected politics - It means that more women must have seats at the Cabinet table, more women must be appointed to senior decision-making positions, and more women’s voices must be heard and included when major political reform or transformation is undertaken.

The handbook includes case studies from Argentina, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, France, Indonesia, Rwanda, South Africa and Sweden, as well as regional overviews from the Arab World, Latin America, South Asia and a case study on the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers, written by politicians, researchers and activists, targets first and foremost women members of parliament and those campaigning for elected office. It is also of use to a wide range of actors working to promote the participation and representation of women in political structures as well as members of civil society, including activists, academics, researchers, journalists, and other stakeholders working to advance women in politics.

1. Introduction Julie Ballington        

Section 1. The Issues and the Obstacles

2. Obstacles to Women’s Participation in Parliament Nadezhda Shvedova

Case studies The Arab World, by Amal Sabbagh Ecuador, by Nina Pacari Indonesia, by Khofifah Indar Parawansa

Section 2. Overcoming Obstacles

3. Enhancing Women’s Political Participation: Legislative Recruitment and Electoral Systems Richard E. Matland

Case studies Latin America, by Mala N. Htun France, by Mariette Sineau Burkina Faso, by Nestorine Compaoré

4. Increasing Women’s Political Representation: New Trends in Gender Quotas Drude Dahlerup

Case Studies Rwanda, by Elizabeth Powley Argentina, by Elisa Carrio South Asia, by Shirin Rai

Section 3. Making an Impact

5. Women in Parliament: Making a Difference Azza Karam and Joni Lovenduski

Case Studies Inter-Parliamentary Union, by Sonia Palmieri and Kareen Jabre South Africa, by Sheila Meintjes Sweden, by Lena Wängnerud

6. Conclusion Azza Karam

"The Handbook is at once an overview, an analysis and a guide, focused on the obstacles faced by women, the means of overcoming them, the modalities of impacting on and through legislative structures, and the varied and rich experiences available around the world from which to learn.

Each moment we live through is a turning point in history, each event a symbol of what is transpiring. This Handbook is one such event in a rapidly changing, and ever interesting, moment in our global human development."

From the Foreword by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia

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