Debate on Gender Quotas
The use of quotas is far from creating a consensus among people, neither among its potential beneficiaries, nor among the others. From one country to another, quotas have been used in education, mainly to support Affirmative action and therefore focusing on race, or in the political scene, that time focusing on gender. This article aims to identify the debate surrounding the use of political gender quotas. The implication of gender quotas relies on its effectiveness to be used within the political system by countries to legitimize equal representation by female and male legislators in government. The insertion of political quotas is used by different countries to prove their commitment to gender equality in the political system, but their legitimacy sparks debate.
Table of Contents
- 1 Scope of the use of gender quotas
- 2 Using Gender Quotas
- 3 Applying Gender Quotas
- 4 Debate on the Use of Gender Quotas
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Scope of the use of gender quotas
Gender quotas are used to create equal representation among genders within legislation contribute to the promotion of gender equality, and ease the access of women into positions of government. Gender quotas in the legislature are important for the represented group and for the polity as a whole.Mansbridge, Jane. “Quota Problems: Combating the Danger of Essentialism.” Politics and Gender 1, no. 4 (2005): 622. Instituting gender quotas is meant to increase the number of women who hold political power. Before 1970, only five countries adopted quotas whereas today, over one hundred countries have.Bush, Sarah Sunn. “International Politics and the Spread of Quotas For Women in Legislatures.” International Organizations 65, no. 1 (2011): 103.
Using Gender Quotas
What do Gender Quotas Do: Gender quotas foremost influence the election of women and provides for an equal opportunity for women to hold legislative positions, depending on the criteria outlined within the gender quota.Hughes, Melanie M. “Intersectionality, Quotas, and Minority Women’s Political Representation Worldwide.” American Political Science Review 105, no. 3 (2005): 604. The tendency to vote for members of government that are male even if female candidates have the same qualifications has to do with the expected societal role each play. Gender quotas in the legislature promote women’s representation in politics by trying to eliminate surface and structural discrimination against women.Mansbridge, Jane. “Quota Problems: Combating the Danger of Essentialism.” Politics and Gender 1, no. 4 (2005): 624 Gender quotas also allow issues commonly related to females that would not otherwise be considered a topic to be placed at the forefront of public policy agendas.
Effective Gender Quotas
Jones Mark states five criteria an effective quota will contain.Jones, Mark P. “The Desirability of Gender Quotas: Considering Context and Design.” Politics and Gender 1, no. 4 (2005): 645-52. Ineffective quota legislation is not worth pursuing. The purpose of judging the efficacy of quotas in the legislature depends on whether or not a good portion of women were elected. They include, placement mandates, a high minimum percentage of women candidates, application to all legislative seats, the employment of quotas within a context of moderate-to-large multimember electoral districts, and adequate enforcement of compliance with the quota legislation.
Types of Gender Quota Policies
There are three dominant types of gender quota policies that are countries useSee, Krook, Mona Lena, Joni Lovenduski, and Judith Squires. “Gender Quotas and Models of Political Citizenship.” British Journal of Political Science 39, no. 4 (2009): 781-803.:
- Reserved Seats- establish seats that only women are eligible to compete for.
- Party Quotas-are pledges by individual parties to aim for a particular proportion of women among their candidates to political office
- Legislative Quotas -are mandatory provisions that apply to all political groupings that require a certain proportion of female candidates to address party selection. Soft quotas stimulate or encourage but not guarantee the election of women to various kinds of political bodies. The policies which countries choose are determined by the political citizenship of that country and the extent to which gender quotas are pursued.
Applying Gender Quotas
Gender quotas on paper demonstrate a country’ intentions to embrace different groups in the political process and are attractive to countries that deal with underrepresentation.Bush, “International Politics and the Spread of Quotas For Women in Legislatures,” 104 Countries apply gender quotas in different ways, at times creates debate as to whether political gender quotas that are adopted are legitimate and changes representation.
Gender Quotas and Political Citizenship
There are citizenship models that may be liberal, republican, or consociational-corporatist citizenship models influence the adoption and impact of gender quota policies.Krook, Mona Lena, Joni Lovenduski, and Judith Squires. “Gender Quotas and Models of Political Citizenship,” 787 They form a relationship between legislative quotas and the republican citizenship model by which the republican citizenship considers representation to be adequate when a representative acts on behalf of and according to the ideas of those that are being represented. The republican citizenship believes that this is accomplished through legislative quotas. Soft quotas are associated with liberal citizenship models which do not mandate fixed outcomes, but through soft quotas promote equal opportunities. Consociational-corporatist citizenship model is associated with party quotas because of their ties to social partnership governed by proportional representation. The consociational-corporatist citizenship model through party quotas promotes the partnership among parties to pledge a particular proportion of women among their candidates to political office.
Gender Quotas and Political Participation
Gender quotas are adopted by international influence and inducements.Bush, “International Politics and the Spread of Quotas For Women in Legislatures,” 106 International actors promote gender quotas in the legislature by using peace operations in post-conflict countries. This allows new constitutions to be written and new policies to be implemented in relation to gender quotas. Political leaders may also use the implementation of gender quotas as a strategy to show the international community their commitment to democracy. However, inducements and incentives that inspire gender quota adoption depend on a country’s current cultural climate which truly dictates whether or not they legitimately accept gender quotas.Mansbridge, “Quota Problems: Combating the Danger of Essentialism,” 629 The United States is an example where the word quota implies the denial of individual worth, fair competition, and merit.
Gender Quotas and Legislation
Some countries included in their Constitution some gender quotas:
- Several Latin American countries passed some legislation requiring between 20 and 40% of women candidates at the national elections in the years 1990. Argentina was the first to pass legislation on gender quotas (1991). Drude DahlerupDahlerup, D., and Freidenvall, L. 2005. “Quotas as a ‘fast track’ to equal representation for women”, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 7(1), 26-48. explains this forefront action by the fact that women were among the strongest opponents to the military dictatorship and that they were very active in the political reconstruction of the country after the dictatorship years.
- Uganda: the 1995 Constitution reserves one parliamentary seat from each of the 39 districts for women (13% quota).
- India: 33% of the seats in local municipal bodies have to be occupied by women.
- France: 50% of the members of a list forwarded for election have to be women.
- Tunisia: the running lists at the elections of the Constituent assembly (scheduled on July 24, 2011) have to represent both sexes equally. Women and men have to appear alternatively on the lists.Frida Dahmani, “Constituante tunisienne: oui à la parité, non au RCD” in Jeune Afrique, April 12, 2011.
Debate on the Use of Gender Quotas
Arguments against the use of quotas
- Quotas have a tendency to promote cultural beliefs in essentialism, such as women representing women means they cannot represent men, or that all women represent all types of other women.Mansbridge, “Quota Problems: Combating the Danger of Essentialism,” 630
- Not all gender quotas legislation is equally effective in the goal of facilitating the election of a substantial proportion of female legislators.Jones, “The Desirability of Gender Quotas: Considering Context and Design,” 647
- Quotas are against the principle of equal opportunity for all.
- If women are not present in a given area, it is simply because they do not want to.
- Quotas are considered being undemocratic – when used in a political context – because they “impose” some candidates.
- With quotas, women would be chosen because of their gender and not for their qualifications or merits.
- Against the use of quotas, other alternatives are suggested, such as reinforcing skills training for women, granting more financial aid, organizing flexible maternity leave, etc.
Arguments for the use of quotas
- Quotas for women allow women not to represent only women or types of women but will allow women to proposition those issues that males may not identify with or see important.Mansbridge, “Quota Problems: Combating the Danger of Essentialism,” 631
- Quotas would help eliminate structural discrimination opening doors for women to work outside of their perceived expectations. Bacchi, Carol Lee. 2006. “Arguing For and Against Quotas: Theoretical Issues.” In Women, Quotas and Politics, ed. Drude Dahlerup. New York: Routledge.
- Quotas can be considered as a compensation for barriers or existing prejudices preventing women to access the position in question. In that way, quotas are an “attempt to redress entrenched privilege”.
- Women are as qualified as men but they are not able to exercise their skills because of various factors.
- They have a right to equal representation, equal citizenship and equal rights.
- When used in a matter of political representation, one of the strongest arguments is the need to represent the entire population (which is constituted of… 50% of women)
- In business also this idea can be applied: managers need women’s experiences to better answer the needs of the market.
- Quotas have now been implemented in several countries and they did not lead to the representation of unqualified women…
See alsoGender Equality in Corporate Boards India: The Women's Reservation Bill
- Quotaproject.org, a website listing the use of gender quotas throughout the world.
- Drude Dahlerup’s webpage: Drude Dahlerup is a Swedish scholar who wrote a lot about gender quotas. Her page contains many references on the subject for further documentation.
- French National Assembly Votes For Women on Boards
- The French National Assembly voted a minimum quota of 40% of women to be represented among civil servants