Implementing Gender Quotas: Spotlight on Sudan
What Can We Expect in Sudan?
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What Can We Expect in Sudan?
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What can we expect from implementing quotas in Sudan; are quotas a panacea?

If the object of implementing quotas is to achieve gender equality, then by increasing the number of female representatives’ numbers, quotas are successful because quotas have been seen as one way to dilute male privilege. [1] However, if the objective is to achieve a feminist agenda, and to decrease gender gaps in other areas such as health, education, labor force etc, then quotas are only a starting point for reform.

 

Previous research indicates that an increase in the number of female representatives alone will not make a significant difference in policy initiatives and political goals. According to Pupavac, when Bosnia implemented a party-list quota of 30%, the mechanism was successful in increasing the number of women in parliament and creating greater gender balance in Bosnian politics, but not in the broader social context affecting ordinary women.[2] Her research concluded that “Quota measures risk ossifying representation, institutionalizing the position of quota representatives and insulating them from the need to galvanize popular support and address the core concerns of their constituencies.”[3]

 

Scholars also question the efficacy of implementing quotas in political systems that lack political power or legitimacy.[4] For most of its post-independence, Sudan has been under authoritarian or semi-authoritarian rule, led by alternating military dictatorships and elected rule by Islamists. In authoritarian regimes like Sudan, the role of the legislature is often diminished and marginalized to a body with “rubber-stamping” authority. Therefore, it is unknown whether reserved seat quotas can have a significant impact at all.[5]

 

 

 Authoritarian rule in Sudan:

Without an effective parliament in place, can women’s inclusion in the political structure can make a difference?

 

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[1] Tinker, Irene (2004). “Quotas for Women in Elected Legislatures: Do They Really Empower Women?” Women’s Studies International Forum. Volume 27.

[2] Pupavac, Vanessa (2005). “Empowering Women? An Assessment of International Gender Policies in Bosnia.” International Peacekeeping. Volume 12, Number 3.

[3] Ibid, page 396.

[4] Pupavac, Vanessa (2005). “Empowering Women? An Assessment of International Gender Policies in Bosnia.” International Peacekeeping. Volume 12, Number 3.

 

[5] Tripp, Aili Mari and Alice Kang (2008). “The Global Impact of Quotas On the Fast Track to Increased Female Legislative Representation.” Comparative Political Studies.

 

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While the quota system implemented in Sudan will guarantee a minimum number of women in politics, implementing quotas is not enough. Quotas are simply a starting point. In order for women to become more effective, women should:

  • Raise awareness about the potential contributions they can contribute to the political system and society.  Utilizing the mass media effectively can achieve this goal.
  • Work in partnership with men. Since men are the traditional powerbrokers in many societies, women will have to work with the male dominated legislatures to achieve their objectives.
  • Build and maintain links with women’s organizations and civil society institutions as a whole.
  • Mainstream gender issues to illustrate the interdependence and linkages with all political, social and economic issues.[1]
  • Advocate for a reduction in the President's power, and encourage powersharing between the various interest groups in Sudan.


[1] Karam, Azza and Joni Lovenduski (2005). “Women in Parliament: Making a Difference.” In Julie Ballington and Azza Karam eds. Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers. International IDEA: Stockholm

 

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