Women Engaging Politically: Beyond Magic Bullets and Motorways
Author: Mariz Tadros
Size: 14 pages (964KB)
This paper draws on over eight country case studies to analyse the possibilities and limitations of mainstream approaches, such as quotas, to strengthening women's access to political power. It finds that any quota law needs to be complemented by other interventions to ensure that it has a positive social transformative impact. Further, concepts of and support for women's political empowerment need to be based more on women's ongoing networks of support and influence and less on pre-election moments or international 'blueprints'.
By 2006, around 40 countries had introduced quotas for women in elections to national parliaments, either by means of constitutional amendment or changing electoral laws (legal quotas). In over 50 countries, major political parties have voluntarily set out quota provisions in their own statutes (party quotas).
Quotas are effective in redressing the numerical gender imbalance between men and women in parliament. Further, the relative ease of measuring progress with quotas has increased their popularity. However, evidence from country case studies in Ghana, Egypt, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, India, Brazil, Costa Rica, Sudan and beyond suggests that:
A woman's political trajectory should be seen as a process and not a moment that begins and ends with a project or election cycle. A policy shift is required from the current focus on getting women into legislatures to providing women with opportunities for political apprenticeship and ultimately women's leadership. While an emerging interest in supporting women's leadership in political parties is laudable, leadership opportunities in NGOs, clubs and community centres, universities and schools and the wider workforce could also be promoted. In addition:
Tadros, M., 2011, ‘Women Engaging Politically: Beyond Magic Bullets and Motorways’, Pathways Policy Paper, Pathways of Women’s Empowerment RPC, Brighton