The level of political representation of women in different legislative bodies around the world varies greatly, standing at 16.9 percent in the world’s legislatures in 2006 on average.

The uneven political playing field on which women and men compete has led to a number of reforms—primarily quotas or other positive action strategies—designed to safeguard the presence of women in parliament.

Governments and political parties have experimented with different types of quotas, with mixed results. Electoral quotas may be constitutionally or legislatively mandated or else adopted voluntarily by political parties. 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.

International IDEA convened a series of regional workshops to gather qualitative data. Researchers and practitioners were brought together to allow country- and region-specific information on quota implementation and enforcement to be collated, and a network of researchers and experts working in this field has developed.


Publication date
08 February 2007
Number of pages
978-91-85724-00-0 (Print)

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Acronyms and Abbreviations

1. Quota Systems: An Overview of Global Trends and Regional Analysis

Overview of Women’s Political Representation in the Arab Region: Opportunities and Challenges

Gender Balance in Politics: Goals and Strategies in a Global Perspective
Drude Dahlerup

2. Implementing Legislated Quotas for Women

Women’s Participation and Special Measures in Djibouti

Women’s Political Participation: Legislated Quotas and Special Measures in Sudan

The Women’s Quota in Jordan: Crowning Three Decades of Support for Female Political Participation

Eritrean Women’s Experience of Political Participation

Women’s Political Participation: The Moroccan Example

3. Quotas Adopted by Political Parties

Gender Quotas and Legislative Recruitment: A Comparative Survey

4. Methods to Enhance Women’s Participation

Lobbying for Increased Participation of Women in Egypt

Women’s Political Participation in Egypt: Equality versus Equal Opportunity

The Political Participation of Women in Lebanon

Syrian Women in Decision-Making Positions and Political Participation

5. The Role of the International Community and International Instruments

Women’s Political Participation in the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union

Strengthening Women’s Participation in the Inter-Parliamentary Union

The Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa

About the Authors


About International IDEA

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The Arab Quota Report: Selected Case Studies

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