Quotas For Women in Elected Legislatures: Do They Really Empower Women?


Tinker, Irene. 2004. “Quotas For Women in Elected Legislatures: Do They Really Empower Women?” Women’s Studies International Forum 27 (5–6): 531–46. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2004.09.008. 

Author: Irene Tinker


The demand for 30% reservations for women in electoral bodies has escalated in the last decade and has produced significant increases in women legislators in many countries. Those campaigning for quotas anticipated a change in government policies and priorities and an increased influence of women in decision-making. Such a shift in power depends both on the types of party systems and of electoral systems, issues widely overlooked. Utilizing proportional representation (PR) with a fixed party list system will certainly increase the number of women elected; but women selected must be party loyalists. Studies suggest their impact on policy is limited. Reservations in countries using the single-member constituency system require legal change. Women leaders of civil society organizations are more likely to win elections under the single-constituency system and thus have greater influence on policy. Many obstacles remain for women to be effective in all these male-dominated chambers.

Topics: Civil Society, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gender Balance, Gendered Power Relations, Governance, Quotas, Political Participation

Year: 2004

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