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The history of women in politics politics essay

Professor Monique Leyenaar July 2004 Ten years after a horrifying spiral into genocide, Rwanda is, in some ways, a model of feminist opportunity. Its new constitution mandates that women hold at least 30 percent of all positions in government and other decision-making positions. The 2003 elections trumped even this ambitious goal, swearing in a new legislature that is approximately 48 percent female.

Gender quotas are applied because there is marked gender inequality in elected bodies. Quota setting is still rather controversial. The largest body of support for quotas comes from those who are not the history of women in politics politics essay in the decision-making bodies — that is, women.

Opponents of quotas claim they are discriminatory and undermine the ethos of equality; women are lent a hand because of their symbolic value, not because of their talents, qualifications, and experience. Rwanda is not the only country with gender quotas in the constitution or in other legislation. In the last ten years many governments have opted for this legal strategy in an effort to include more women in political decision-making institutions.

Instead of using quota legislation, we also find countries where political parties voluntarily implement party quotas — as political parties generally dominate the selection process of candidates for legislative office.

Voluntary party quotas can be found all over the world. In Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, political parties introduced gender quotas in the 1970s.

Women in Politics: Why We Need More Women in Office

Many believe that those early quota requirements are responsible for the many women working as political representatives in those countries today.

Because quotas in political parties are self-imposed and temporary measures, their very success can also be a reason to eventually abandon the quota policy. Danish left-wing parties, for example, cancelled the quota system in the mid-1990s. A political representation of about 40 percent women is now common there, and parties need no extra stimulus to add more women to their ranks.

In some cases, like in Rwanda, the constitution has been amended either with explicit gender quotas for certain political functions or in such a way that makes it possible to pass national legislation such as electoral laws demanding substantial representation of women in politics. Forty-one countries have constitutional quotas or electoral quota laws in effect as of 2004, according to the Global Database of Quotas for Women [1].

In four of these countries, the regulations are only valid for the local or regional political bodies. See the full list to learn more about which countries have quota laws and their electoral success rate.

International organizations have also advocated the inclusion of gender quotas in new constitutions, like the one of Rwanda and recently in the constitution of Iraq. An important motive to make these changes is the notion that democracy is based upon the participation of all citizens in political decision making and, secondly, having greater numbers of women in politics is a clear sign of importance attached to gender equality.

  1. Politics " is the name of a just-completed American University study on gender in U.
  2. They are often used as a short-term, temporary method of jump-starting the participation of women to dispel the effects of inhibiting biases and create systematized change. This response to destructive gender imbalances in power may be the only good and lasting result of what is a genuinely surreal Republican presidential nomination race.
  3. They are often used as a short-term, temporary method of jump-starting the participation of women to dispel the effects of inhibiting biases and create systematized change. The demand for special concessions and privileges along with the reservation of posts in assemblies and parliament the bill is pending for the last more than ten years and other civic institutions are a few steps towards women empowerment in India.
  4. At the local level, the percentage of women councilors increased to 12 percent in 2003 — up from 7 percent in 1998. The 2003 elections trumped even this ambitious goal, swearing in a new legislature that is approximately 48 percent female.

One of the reasons why male political leaders have gone along with quota legislation is, according to several authors, the wish to display a modern and democratic image. The constitution of Tanzania states that a certain number of parliamentary seats not less than 20 percent and not more than 30 percent are reserved for women. These seats are distributed among the political parties in proportion to the number of seats awarded in parliament.

  1. Removing formal barriers, for example, giving women voting rights, is considered sufficient in the US. For this reason it is more than likely that other countries will soon be following the example of those who have imposed gender-balance quotas.
  2. The weekend is less a time for rest and more to catch up on unfinished and pending tasks of the household.
  3. The status of women in a society cannot be secured by her economic power alone as is generally supposed.
  4. The politicization of basic women's health issues and the threats to women's fundamental right to privacy has catalyzed this non-partisan response mobilizing women to recognize the risk to 12 major advances that affect their daily lives.

In South Africa a municipal law stipulates that 50 percent of all candidates for the local councils have to be women. In Europe, France adapted the constitution to add a gender quota in 1999, while the government of Belgium already passed an electoral law in 1994 guaranteeing that one third of candidates on the lists would be women in 1999. In other southern European countries, the passing of quota legislation is the subject of intense debates.

The Portuguese parliament of 1999 rejected a government proposal to impose a maximum of 75 percent of all eligible places on the lists of candidates go to women over the next two elections.

The quota would have been 66. In Greece two government bills passed the Greek parliament in 2002 that required a compulsory participation of at least one third of both sexes on the list of candidates for municipal and regional elections.

The quota law did exert an impact on the results of the local and regional elections held in 2002 and in 2003.

The percentage of women candidates on the lists for the regional elections increased from 14 percent, in 1998, to 34 percent in 2002. The percentage of women elected in the regional councils went from 11 to 18 percent.

At the local level, the percentage of women councilors increased to 12 percent in 2003 — up from 7 percent in 1998. Seven Asian countries have also implemented quotas in recent years. In 2002 Pakistan also added a law mandating that 17 percent of all parliamentary seats are reserved for women candidates.

In the Netherlands, the parliamentary election of 2002 resulted in a representation of 21 percent women MPs. In Latin America the parliaments of six countries passed similar laws. In Bolivia, for example, an electoral law with a quota of 30 percent was introduced in 1997.

The choice of the percentage differs widely among all these countries.

Essay on The Role of Women in Politics

France is the only country that opted for parity: In the other countries it varies between 3 percent Kenya and 40 percent Costa Rica. In 18 of the 41 countries with quota laws, the minimum has been set at exactly or approximately one third 30 or 33.

The danger exists, however, that when the quota is set too low, selectors will use the figure as a maximum instead of a minimum. Mayor Florence Are quotas an effective way of increasing political power for women? Effectiveness in terms of participation rates of women in parliament depends on many different factors.

A first issue is how restrictively are the laws written? Is there a penalty when parties do not adhere to the quotas stated in the laws? In some cases, like in Paraguay and Mexico, the electoral office does not accept ballots that do not meet the quota requirements, but in other countries, such as South Africa, there are no sanctions at all.

Similarly, there are many examples of parties reaching the quota of female candidates set by the law, but failing to get the same percentage of women into the parliamentary party. This situation brings up the second issue regarding the writing of quota laws: When party lists are used as a balloting method, women may fail to win seats due in part to the actual placement of women candidates at the history of women in politics politics essay bottom of party lists.

Such was the case in the French parliamentary elections of 2002: Despite the fact that 38 percent of all party candidates were women, only 12 percent of those elected were women. But overall, quotas have had a positive effect on the selection of women candidates. For one, party leaders put more effort into their search for potential women candidates. And quotas encourage women aspirants to put themselves forward as candidates. Analysis of countries where quota laws have been introduced finds that parties have presented more women candidates than previously and actual representation figures have indeed increased.

For this reason it is more than likely that other countries will soon be following the example of those who have imposed gender-balance quotas. England, Palgrave, 2002, p. Monique Leyenaar is professor of political science at the University of Nijmegen, Netherlands. She has published extensively on the subject of women and politics.