Implementing Gender Quotas: Spotlight on Sudan
Quotas 101
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The purpose of quotas is to provide a particular group that suffers from discrimination (such as women, ethnic minority groups, or people from lower social castes) special provisions to allow them to run for public office with a fair chance. These special provisions usually specify “a certain number of percentage of the members of a body, whether it is a candidate list, a parliamentary assembly, a committee or a government” to protect that particular group.

 

Gender quotas are implemented because they have been found to be a positive mechanism for reversing social and political institutional discrimination against women. Not only do they afford women greater political participation, but through greater inclusiveness, the nature and functioning of public institutions change.

 

Quotas can be implemented in two broad categories, either as candidate quotas or as reserved seats. Which one is implemented will often affect the number of women in politics for that particular country.

 

Controversial Quotas?

Explore examples of how candidate quotas are often implemented.

Candidate Quotas apply quotas during the pre-election stage of the election when political parties must choose their candidates. These quotas can either be codified in law, forcing all political parties to recruit the required percentage of women, or they can be voluntary. Historically, left-leaning political parties tend to voluntarily implement candidate quotas; whereas right-leaning parties are more hesitant.

Reserved Seats set aside a certain number of seats for women in a legislature. Most typically these seats are filled through elections (however in some semi-authoritarian states, women’s seats are appointed). There are a number of ways reserved seats can be decided. One method is to allocate seats on a geographic basis where one woman is elected in each district by a special electorate. Another method allocates seats based proportionally, based on the proportional number of seats parties won in the election.

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Dahlerup, Drude. “Increasing Women’s Political Representation: New Trends in Gender Quotas.” In Julie Ballington and Azza Karam eds. Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers. International IDEA: Stockholm. Page 141.

Kudva, Neema (2003). “Engineering Elections: the Experiences of Women in ‘Panchayati Raj’ in Karnataka, India.” International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society. Volume 16, Number 3.

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