Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers, A Revised Edition

This publication is available in print and electronic format
1 January 2005
Julie Ballington, Azza Karam

This updated edition of Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers covers women’s access to the legislature in three steps.

First, it looks into the obstacles women confront when entering parliament, be they political, socio-economic or ideological and psychological. Second, it presents solutions to overcome these obstacles, such as changing electoral systems and introducing quotas. Third, it details strategies for women to influence politics once they are elected to parliament, an institution which is traditionally male dominated.

The original Handbook, published in 1998, was produced as part of International IDEA’s work on women and political participation. Since its release, 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, presenting new and updated case studies.

Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers, A Revised Edition will be of use to a wide range of actors working to promote the participation and representation of women in political structures, 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 - Amal Sabbagh
Ecuador - Nina Pacari
Indonesia - 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 - Mala N. Htun
France - Mariette Sineau
Burkina Faso - Nestorine Compaoré

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

Case Studies: 
Rwanda - Elizabeth Powley
Argentina - Elisa Carrio
South Asia - Shirin Rai

Section 3. Making an Impact

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

Case Studies:
Inter-Parliamentary Union - Sonia Palmieri and Kareen Jabre
South Africa - Sheila Meintjes
Sweden - 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.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
President of the Republic of Liberia

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