Electoral Politics: Making Quotas Work for Women

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Electoral Politics: Making Quotas Work for Women

Publication Author: Homa Hoodfar and Mona Tajali.

The goal of reducing gender inequalities in political representation has been elusive in many different kinds of political systems, even though women have made substantial progress in other areas, such as education, employment and healthcare. This wonderfully accessible book argues that gender quotas are an important strategy to improve women’s political representation in legislatures and political parties and it lays out the history of this approach across the globe. It suggests, however, that gender quotas are themselves not an ‘easy fix’ to gender discrimination since similarly designed quotas have had different outcomes across cases.

The book’s comparative approach untangles the various factors which need to be considered in designing, lobbying for, and implementing gender quotas so that they can be effective. This volume is tremendously useful and informative for activists and scholars across the globe and does a masterful job explaining divergent outcomes both within regions and across them. While teasing out some shared experiences, it encourages coalitions of activists to develop context-appropriate strategies to craft effective campaigns to end women’s exclusion from political decision-making. Hoodfar and Tajali argue that although increasing countries are successfully and creatively using gender quotas, some of the wealthiest long-standing democracies still continue to experience greater legislative gender inequalities.

In the march towards inclusive democracy and addressing women’s historical exclusion from electoral processes, gender quotas have emerged across the North and the South as a major tool for redress. This book outlines successes as well as shortcomings of the various types of gender quotas as they intersect with electoral systems. In simple and lucid terms, Electoral Politics makes a valuable contribution to understanding the complexity of gender quotas by drawing upon eight case studies from across the globe. It is one of few scholarly works in the field geared towards diverse stakeholders, including scholars, practitioners and activists. Setting out lessons learnt and means to overcome systemic obstacles, it provides a clear guide to devising context specific strategies for increasing women’s presence in electoral politics.

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