Implementing Gender Quotas: Spotlight on Sudan
Women in Politics
Home
Women in Politics
Quotas 101
Sudan's Women's Movement
Women in Sudan's Peace Building Process
Sudan's 2008 Electoral Law
Implications of the Electoral Law
Implementing Quotas
What Can We Expect in Sudan?
Lessons Learned From Other Countries

Empowering Women through Political Involvement

 

Although women make up roughly 50% of the world’s population, women constitute only 16 % of the members of parliaments around the world. There are several factors that account for this discrepancy such as legal and institutional barriers, discriminatory attitudes influenced by local cultures, religions and social norms, and child and family-care responsibilities.

 

Additional obstacles to women’s access to decision-making bodies:

 

  • Lack of media attention
  • Women’s low self-esteem and self-confidence, reinforced by certain cultural patterns
  • Lack of party support, including financial and other resources to fund women’s campaigns. Without this critical support, women’s candidacies often lack political, social and economic credibility.
  • Lack of coordination with and support from women’s organizations and other NGOs.
  • The type of electoral system: women have better chances in Proportional Representation (PR) electoral systems, as compared to majoritarian electoral systems. PR systems typically have larger district magnitudes (compared to the single-member districts that are common in majoritarian systems). A larger district magnitude enables a greater number of contestants and parties to compete, which increases the chances of greater representation. More specifically, because seats are allocated proportionally, the larger the number of possible seats to allocate, the greater the chances are for minorities, particularly women candidates to win seats.
  • Type of quota provisions and the degree to which they are enforced. Quotas can be applied in different parts of the process: as voluntary party quotas, as quotas for selecting aspirants and nominees, and quotas for the number of seats allocated. Quotas are not always implemented or enforced; making them ineffective.
  • Male domination in decision-making of the above political institutions.

 

 “About: Global Database of Quotas for Women.” International IDEA & Stockholm University. http://www.quotaproject.org/aboutQuotas.cfm

Shvedoba, Nadezhda. “Obstacles to Women’s Participation in Parliament.” In Julie Ballington and Azza Karam eds. Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers. International IDEA: Stockholm. Page 48.

 

 

Without equal access and participation in decision-making bodies, women’s voices will be silent. Fortunately, international women’s movements and international conventions such as the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing have brought the issue of gender inequalities in political systems to the forefront.

 

Conventions like the Beijing Platform for Action have set forth several benchmarks for women’s empowerment. One of the benchmarks advocates that each country should have at minimum 30% of its legislature made up of women. Today about 100 countries have implemented various levels of gender quotas as a means to achieve this goal and to empower women.

When Women Participate in Politics…

Women in politics and decision-making positions in Governments and legislative bodies contribute to redefining political priorities, placing new items on the political agenda that reflect and address women's gender-specific concerns, values and experiences, and providing new perspectives on mainstream political issues. -- Beijing Platform for Action