Gender quotas : towards parity governance?
Title: Gender quotas : towards parity governance?
Series/Number: Global Governance Programme; 2013/08; Policy Briefs; European, Transnational and Global Governance
External link: http://globalgovernanceprogramme.eui.eu
Largely part of a worldwide trend to enhance women’s empowerment, gender quotas, a policy requiring the inclusion of a certain number of women candidates or legislators, have become the new preferred tool to promote women’s equal participation in decision-making bodies in the political as well as the economic spheres. This suggests that the absence of women from all traditionally male domains of power, and not just politics, is increasingly seen as being in tension with modern notions of gender equality, democracy and good governance. Often perceived as a « fast track »2 way to achieve gender equality and as a potent instrument to tackle structural roots of gender inequalities, political gender quotas have been largely adopted in various regions of the world - initially in Latin America at the beginning of the 1990s, then in Europe and Africa - as well as in various political contexts (consolidated democracies, authoritarian regimes, post-conflict transitions and more recently post-Arab Spring reforms). Gender quotas in corporate boards are a more recent trend, initiated by Norway and France at the turn of the millennium and now discussed in several European countries under the impetus of the European Commission. Despite their rapid expansion, gender quotas are complex and often contested measures. Whereas quotas have for the most part proved successful in increasing women’s political representation - although very rarely to the extent of reaching parity- they have also been disappointing, both in terms of the still insufficient numbers of women they have brought to decision-making bodies and the insufficient ways in which such numbers have translated into policy outcomes or governance modalities. The question that remains unanswered is whether women’s presence can also bring a more gendered understanding of citizenship and democracy. This policy brief reviews the obstacles and windows of opportunity for the successful implementation of gender quotas, drawing lessons and identifying best practices from a comparative analysis of regional and national experiences in quota reforms in the political as well as the corporate sphere. Particular attention is paid to recent innovations in quota reforms and to diffusion mechanisms between regions and countries, as well as to the role played by international organisations within these dynamics; not to mention learning processes across time, which enable to refine quota schemes and make them more efficient both at a national and international level.
Type of Access: openAccess