Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers, A Revised Edition

This publication is only available in electronic format
1 January 2005
91-85391-19-0 (Print)
Julie Ballington, Azza Karam

This 2005 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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Image credit: International IDEA

Image credit: International IDEA 

Press Release
An interview with a local female Elected Representative

Image credit: Kavita Karki, Rabu Ranjit and Sama Dangol.

News Article

A collection of speakers from past events.

Top row from left to right: Patricia Torsney, Permanent Observer for the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the United Nations; Anne-Marie Goetz, Professor of Global Affair at the New York University; Maria Bassols, Deputy Permanent Representative for the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations; Malene Almeida, Coordinator at Praia City Group on Governance Statistics; Rumbidzai Kandawasvika-Nhundu, Senior Advisor at International IDEA. 

Middle Row from left to right:  Annika Silva-Leander, Head of Democracy Assessment at International IDEA; Keboitse Machangana, Former Director of Global Programme at International IDEA; Annika Savill, Executive Head for the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF); Njeri Kabeberi, Chair of International IDEA’s Board of Advisers; Sarah Lister, Head of Governance at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Margot Wallström, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden. 

Bottom row from left to right: Pippa Norris, Lecturer and Political Science at Harvard University; Simonetta Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation; Maria Leissner, Ambassador at Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs; Riika Laatu, Finnish Ambassador to Myanmar; Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.