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  1. Electoral Gender Quotas Fiona Buckley University College Cork Co-founder, The 5050 Group Presentation to Hanna’s House ‘Women Delivering Peace and Security’ Conference Croke Park, 5th November 2012

  2. % Women and Men Parliamentary Representation (EU27)

  3. Electoral Gender Quotas • A mechanism to guarantee a certain percentage of women are present either (1) on the ballot paperOR (2) in parliament • Act as a process of change and a facilitator of women’s political inclusion • Compensates for the many gendered barriers of accessing political office • Implementation • Constitutional (e.g. France, Rwanda) • Legislative (e.g. ROI, Belgium, Spain, Poland, Argentina) • Voluntary (e.g. Scandinavian countries; Germany) • Application • Results /Outcome (Reserve Seats) • Africa; Asia • Nomination (Candidate Selection) • Europe, South America • Provide the electorate with greater choice

  4. Why Quotas? Background • Legacy of (i) historical exclusion of women from political citizenship (ie suffrage); (ii) bias towards traditional gender roles have resulted in women’s under-representation worldwide; and (iii) challenge the gendered nature of political institutions and decision-making • 2012 world average 20.5% female parliamentarians • 79.5% ‘over-representation’ of men • Progress in women’s representation is slow, static and subject to reversals • e.g. post-Soviet states , Republic of Ireland • Ireland 37th place in world-rankings in 1990; now 89th position! • Growing pressures on states/political parties from 1990s onwards to tackle women’s under-representation • Endogenous pressure: e.g. women’s movements, growing electoral competition , political parties • Exogenous pressure: e.g. UN (CEDAW; Beijing Protocols; Resolution 1325) and the EU • To address the above problems, over 100 nation-states worldwide have introduced gender quotas

  5. Questioning Quotas • Do ‘gender quotas’ work? • 17 of the top 20 nations in terms of women’s political representation have gender quotas • 3 electoral cycles • Are quotas democratic/fair? • Liberals say ‘no’ but supporters say they are compensatory and promote democracy • What about the ‘merit’ debate? • Naïve to assume all politicians make it on merit alone. • What of family dynasties; the ‘celebrity’ candidate; differing access to funding; favour by the paper leader? • How is the quota enforced and monitored? • Sanctions for non-compliance must be effective • Financial penalties; list rejections; disqualifications; strong leadership; monitoring • What about the ‘token’ or ‘quota woman’ debate? • Token men have been contesting elections for years! • Candidates should be selected on ability, not on the basis of their biological sex – the quota will lead to ‘unqualified’ women being elected. • If it was simply a question of ability, women would be elected • Train, mentor, support • Gain local level experience

  6. Questioning Quotas • Women are just not interested in politics! • Over 2000 groups across the Island of Ireland headed up by women • Will a quota result in ‘parachuted’ candidates? • It may. So what? It happens all the time. • Parties can’t ‘find’ women to run for politics • Party membership; non-traditional recruitment grounds; ask again, and again, and again – persistence pays off • The ‘slippery slope’ argument – “we’ll have quotas for red-heads next!” • What’s the big fear of greater diversity? • Gender quotas will lead to men’s displacement in society! • No evidence • How will quotas resolve cultural matters? • Change from within • I don’t need quotas; I can make it in politics alone • Fantastic, but try not to pull up the ladder after you....not all will have a similar experience to you • Are quotas the only solution? • No, must be introduced alongside other measures • Training, mentoring, financial supports, practical supports (childcare); campaign supports (canvassers)

  7. What does the 5050 Group do? • Advocacy group dedicated to achieving equal representation in Irish politics • Fully inclusive and politically non-aligned • Lobby for the implementation of special measures (quotas) to increase the number of women on the ballot paper; • Give more women the opportunity to get onto the ballot paper thus providing voters with greater choice • Build general awareness of the importance of redressing the balance of representation of women in Irish politics • Grow a grassroots movement that will agitate for change; • Identify and support women candidates • Watchdog role

  8. ‘Velvet Triangle’ (Alison Woodward, 2004) Policy Makers Civil Society Academia

  9. Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 • 30% gender quota • Ensure 30% women and 30% men candidates on the ballot paper at next general election • Candidate selection quota • Quota to rise to 40% seven years thereafter • Sanction: parties lose half of their State funding is they do not meet quota requirement • Weakness: not applicable at local government

  10. Krook (2007, 2009) • Framework of analysis for the adoption of candidate gender quotas • Women’s mobilisation • Democratic renewal/change • International pressure • Elite support and strategic considerations • Oftentimes key if positive action measures are to be introduced

  11. 2011 NI Assembly Election1st preference vote by sex & party (McGing, 2012)

  12. Final Thoughts! “A society that is without the voice and vision of a woman is not less feminine. It is less human” (Mary Robinson) • Ask a woman to run for politics. • Politics is a tough job, but women are as able as men to do it • Gender quotas provide an opportunitystructure to facilitate women’s electoral candidacy • access to the ballot paper • Gender quotas provide voters with greater electoral choice • (i) option to choose between men and women; • (ii) between women of different parties • If not quotas, what is the alternative? If not now, when? “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident” (Schopenhauser)

  13. Contact the 5050 Group Email: