Gender Quotas Database

Country Data



Canada (Canada)

Canada (Canada) has a Bicameral parliament with the use of voluntary party quotas. 103 of 336 (31%) seats in the House of Commons are held by women.

At a glance

Structure of Parliament: Bicameral

Are there legislated quotas...

  • For the Single/Lower House? No
  • For the Upper House? No
  • For the Sub-National Level? No

Are there voluntary quotas...

  • Adopted by political parties? Yes

Is there additional information?...

  • Yes

Last updated: Feb 23, 2023

Single/Lower House

House of Commons

Total seats 336
Total Women 103
% Women 31%
Election Year 2021
Electoral System FPTP
Quota Type No legislated
Election details IDEA Voter Turnout - IPU Parline

Upper House


Total seats 93
Total Women 48
% Women 52%
Election Year 2021
Electoral System
Quota Type No legislated>
Election details IPU Parline
  Legal source Details
Quota type: No legislated Electoral law  
Legal sanctions for non-compliance No data available
Rank order/placement rules No data available

Voluntary Political Party Quotas*

Party Official name Details, Quota provisions
New Democratic Party [NDP] In 1985 the NDP adopted a target of 50 percent women among its candidates at federal elections. It has also adopted (and is enforcing) a policy whereby, in each federal riding, at least one woman must be in the running at the nomination stage.
Quebecer Bloc Bloc Québécois [BQ] In all its instances, the Bloc Québécois must strive to ensure parity in the representation of women and men. (Party Statutes)
Liberal Party of Canada [LPC] Any number of other Registered Liberals of the Party appointed by the co-chairs in consultation with the National Board and respecting the principle of equal participation of men and women. (Party's Statutes)

* Only political parties represented in parliament are included. When a country has legislated quotas in place, only political parties that have voluntary quotas that exceed the percentage/number of the national quota legislation are presented in this table.

Additional Information

The 2015 elections meant a 1,1 % increase of women compared to the last elections in 2011. NDP, the Green Party and the Liberal Party increased their numbers of female candidates, however the Conservative Party and Bloc Québéqoise dropped by 20 % and 28 % respectively. The political parties vary in their policies on women's representation, where the NDP, the Liberal Party and the Green Party have structures in place to promote and support women's participation, and the Conservative Party lacks any such policies (OSCE/ODIHR Election Misson Assessment Final Report 2015).

In 1997 a proposal on electoral gender parity went to referendum in Nunavut, a self-governing region in the Northwest Territories. Voters were asked to vote "yes" or "no" to the question: "Should the first Nunavut Legislative Assembly have equal numbers of men and women MLAs, with one man and one woman elected to represent each electoral district?" The proposal, however, was rejected by 57% of Nunavut voters.

If the proposal had passed, one woman from a women's list and one man from a men's list would be elected from each of the 10 or 11 electoral districts. Each voter would then mark two boxes: one from the women's list and one from the men's list.

The percentage of women is calculated from the current number of seats occupied in the parliament and senate. The Canadian Senate has 105 statutory seats. 


Additional reading

  • See the latest updates on Canada on iKNOW Politics
  • Women Candidates in General Elections in the Parliament of Canada - 1921 to Date. Available Here (Last accessed: October 2021)
  • Manon, T. & Steele, J. F. 2006.  'Paradise Lost? Gender Parity and the Nunavut Experience', Sawer, M., Tremblay, M., & Trimble, L.(ed), Abingdon, Routledge, p. 221-235.
  • Inter-Parliamentary Union. 1999b. Politics: Women's Insight. Geneva: Inter-Parliamentary Union.
  • Karam, A. M. 1998. Beijing +5: Women's Political Participation: Review of Strategies and Trends. Background Paper No. 1. New York: United Nations.
  • Praud, J. 1998. ’La seconde vague féministe et la féminisation du Parti socialiste français et du Parti québécois’, Politique et sociétés. 17, no. 1-2. pp. 71-90.
  • Inter-Parliamentary Union. 1997a. Men and Women in Politics: Democracy Still in the Making, A World Comparative Study. Geneva: Inter-Parliamentary Union.
  • Gidengil, E. 1996. ‘Gender and attitudes towards quotas for women candidates in Canada’, Women and Politics. 16, no. 4. pp. 21-44.
  • Matland, R.E. and Studlar, D.T. 1996. ‘The Contagion of Women Candidates in Single-Member Districts and Proportional representation Electoral Systems: Canada and Norway’, The Journal of Politics, 58, 3: 707–33.
  • Nunavut Implementation Commission. 1995. NIC's proposal for equal representation by men and women in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly. Iqaluit: Iqualuit NU.
  • Canadian Parliament website,

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