What Mechanisms Exist to Promote the Participation of Women in Politics?
Because of the barriers discussed above, most experts agree that efforts to improve gender parity in politics require affirmative action of some kind.
single greatest factor influencing the number of female officeholders
is the existence of quota systems where a certain number of seats are
set aside for women. This is how post-genocide Rwanda has achieved its
- Another factor correlated with
gender equality in politics is election law. Countries that have a
“winner take-all” or “first past the post” system whereby offices are
rewarded to the party that takes the majority of the vote tend to put
fewer women in office. Systems where offices are awarded
proportionally according to the percentage of votes gained tend to have
- There is the realization that female
candidates require extra support – with raising money, training and
capacity-building, community organizing, and campaign management. Many
NGOs and advocacy organizations now exist to provide this. EMILY’s
List in the United States is an example. EMILY stands for Early Money
is Like Yeast.
The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
do include a goal specific to gender equality (#3 – Promote Gender
Equality and Empower Women). Unlike the Beijing Declaration, however,
the MDGs do not include formal targets for female representation in
politics, an omission that many believe hamstrings progress toward
closing what Social Watch has called the “empowerment gap.”
Next: Women in Power and Decision-Making: Gender Empowerment Measure