Pages tagged "Topic: Gender Quotas and Recruitment Targets"
RepresentWomen is committed to researching and identifying the best practices for increasing women’s representation in politics, drawing from evidence around the world. Part of this work leads us to closely track parliamentary elections and compare the outcomes from year to year. In 2021 and 2022, we identified 44 elections where women achieved record highs for their representation in parliament. The purpose of this analysis is to bring attention to how election rules and voting systems shape opportunities for women to enter politics.
Between 2021 and 2022, 85 countries held elections for their lower houses of parliament. In 44 of these countries, a record number of women were elected, constituting a “golden year” for women’s political representation in that country.
Through the use of case studies, the following analysis hones in on the role that systems-level factors, such as election rules and voting systems, play in creating opportunities for more women to be elected worldwide. We found that:
- Countries are breaking records for women’s representation each year. Of 85 countries that held elections in 2021 and 2022, 44 broke records for women’s political representation records and achieved “golden years.”
- Not all “record-breaking” progress is significant. While some countries have made considerable gains in women’s representation in a short period, others, including the United States, are making incremental progress.
- The countries that have made the most progress adopted gender quotas. Additionally, 65% of countries that attained a golden year have either proportional (PR) or semi-proportional (semi-PR) voting systems. This finding echoes previous research that has established a positive relationship between gender quotas, proportional representation, and women’s representation.
- Repealing quotas negatively impacts women’s representation in politics. While the countries that made the greatest progress toward gender balance adopted gender quotas, those that repealed quotas experienced an immediate decline in women’s representation. In addition to reaffirming the impact that quotas have on women’s representation, this finding suggests that quotas alone don’t resolve all barriers to representation.
Analyzing women’s representation globally shows that many other countries have progressed toward gender balance in politics; learning from these countries and adopting the election rules and voting systems conducive to gender-balanced governance is critical if we are to have full and fair representation in the United States.
Our International Voting Systems Dashboard has five tabs:
1. Parliaments and rankings
This tab shows the structure of government, the rank for women's representation (based on the percentage of women in the lower house), the number of women elected, and the percentages of women in the chambers.
2. Voting systems of parliaments
This tab shows the type of voting system used, along with sub-categories, and the date of the most recent election.
3. Gender quotas
This tab details the types of gender quotas implemented in each chamber of parliament.
4. Heads of state and government
This tab shows the current Heads of State (HoS) and Government (HoG) & their respective genders (F or M), election dates, and titles. This tab also
This section shows the number of cabinet members, the number of women in the cabinet, the percentage of women in the cabinet, and the most recent verification date.
The goal of this dashboard is to contextualize the U.S. within the world, show the unique systems used around the globe, and show where women's representation is the highest.
This dashboard is interactive! Scroll over each country to see the data.
This 2023 International Voting Systems Snapshot ranks countries according to women's representation in the lower house of their national parliament. As displayed in our 2023 International Voting Systems Memo, most countries ranked above the U.S. have a proportional voting system, and women are least represented in countries with plurality-majority systems. These findings emphasize the need to study the impact of voting systems, as well as why implementing proportional voting is vital to leveling the playing field for women in the U.S.
Women’s political representation is vital to sustaining good governance worldwide. But while women comprise over half of the world’s population, men still hold the majority of seats in almost every legislature. Research has shown that diversity in political representation leads to more inclusive and effective lawmaking. Women, in particular, bring different forms of consensus building and attention to various policy issues, including but not limited to “women’s issues” such as healthcare, childcare, and education. This means that political processes and outcomes suffer when women are excluded from office.
RepresentWomen has been studying the relationship between voting systems and women’s political representation for the last five years. Through our research, we have found that voting systems shape opportunities for women to enter politics. In both the United States and around the world, cases like New York City, South Africa, and New Zealand further demonstrate the viability of major system changes and the potential impact of adopting a new voting system.
The following memo presents an update to our analysis of voting systems globally, their impact on women’s representation, and the case for proportional ranked choice voting in the United States. Where appropriate, we also discuss the role of complementary candidate-focused strategies and initiatives, such as gender quotas and candidate recruitment groups.
The goal of this memo is to equip our partners in the U.S. with updated data and supporting literature on the impact of proportional representation (PR) on women’s representation, drawing from stories of how PR improved women’s representation in the United States (1910s-1940s), South Africa (1990s-today), and New Zealand (1990s-today). This memo further builds the case for proportional ranked choice voting (PRCV) in the U.S., pushing back on recent efforts to introduce non-viable forms of PR. Previous research releases on this topic: 2020, 2019, 2018.
Voting systems inform how ballots are designed, how people cast their votes, how the results are counted, and how the winners are determined. The type of voting system used can greatly impact voter turnout, the role of political parties, candidate engagement, and representation. While there are many kinds of voting systems used around the world, there are three basic types:
- Plurality-Majority (Non-PR): Non-proportional systems allow the candidate with the most votes to be declared the winner. In plurality systems, a candidate can win with less than 50% of the vote; in majority systems, a runoff ensues if a candidate does not receive at least 50% of the vote.
- Proportional Representation (PR): In a proportional system, seats are allocated to parties in proportion to the total number of votes received. PR is used around the world in various forms; New Zealand uses a mixed member proportional system (MMP), South Africa uses a party list system, and several cities in the U.S. use proportional ranked choice voting (PRCV).
- Semi-Proportional (Semi-PR): Semi-proportional systems combine elements of non-PR and PR systems. Semi-PR systems are often more representative than non-PR systems because they ensure that political minorities are at least somewhat represented.
According to our research, women’s representation is lower in countries with plurality-majority systems because plurality systems reinforce existing barriers for women in politics; when a candidate only needs a plurality to win, political parties and donors are more likely to back “establishment” candidates (often white men) to improve their odds. Plurality voting also limits competition against incumbents and encourages negative campaigning, potentially deterring women from running in the first place.
Proportional representation (PR) yields the best opportunities for women. Unlike plurality systems, where a single candidate–and party–wins the district, multiple winners are elected to represent a single district in PR systems, and multiple political parties may be represented at a time. In addition to creating more opportunities for political minorities to be represented, PR systems tend to create more diverse legislatures, with more women and people of color nominated and elected. Overall, PR is the best way to ensure full and fair representation.
With the support of women’s organizations like the National League of Women Voters, PRCV was first adopted in the United States during the Progressive Era, leading to the milestone elections of women and people of color in cities like New York City. Though few original cities use the system today, a new wave of cities are now looking to adopt PRCV. Based on our research, RepresentWomen supports the adoption of PRCV over other forms of PR in the United States. In addition to being the only form of PR with a history of use in the U.S., it is also the only form of PR that is suited for nonpartisan elections, which are held in two-thirds of American cities.
This snapshot displays women's political representation in the 38 OECD countries. The columns show which voting system is used, the subcategory of that voting system, and if gender quotas are used.
Gender quotas have uniquely defined Latin American politics since their conception. In 1991, Argentina became the first country in the world to adopt legislative gender quotas. Soon after, other countries in Latin America and around the world began to do the same. Of the five countries in the world that have achieved gender parity in their legislatures, three are in Latin America. Whether due to the fact that they were among the first to embrace gender quotas or because of other underlying factors, it is clear that the region has many success stories when it comes to women's representation.
Yet, that is not to say that every country in this region is succeeding at achieving gender-balanced governance. There is great diversity in performance on women's representation in Latin America, which hints that gender quotas, though helpful, may not be the only solution needed to achieve gender parity.
This brief analyzes trends in Latin America, defined by 19 countries located in Central and South America, to:
- Determine what factors support or hinder a country's journey to gender parity.
- Guide the United States in its own journey to achieve parity.
Over half (55%) of Arab states ensure women's representation through gender quotas (mostly reserved seats). Our research indicates that women in countries with gender quotas are better represented by women than they are in countries without quotas. But even in countries that have achieved higher levels of representation, more needs to be done to ensure that women have meaningful opportunities to lead. To learn more about the status of women's representation in Arab states, refer to our full brief.
The Soviet Union, also known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was established in 1922 with 15 republics, making it the largest country in the world- for reference, it was 2.5 times larger than the United States and was one-sixth of Earth’s land surface. On December 26th, 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved, resulting in the creation of 15 new and independent states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Under the Soviet Union, women’s rights were enshrined by the constitution, which guaranteed equal rights for women in all aspects of life, including the economic, cultural, social, and political spheres. Soviet women were actively involved in the labor force and in domestic affairs- this “double burden” also meant that they experienced time poverty, or a lack of adequate time for leisure and rest. Despite this, Soviet women were still 49% of all local officials and 32% of all federal officials in 1980. However, Soviet women were less likely to be promoted within the government hierarchy, and some women also preferred local politics due to their time poverty, which can explain women’s reduced levels of representation between the local and federal government. Throughout the state’s existence, women’s political representation greatly fluctuated, especially in political party leadership, which is proof of the inadequate implementation of their 30% gender quota.
Why Read This Brief? This brief chooses to analyze these 15 post-Soviet states primarily because their constitutions, political parties, electoral systems, and sociocultural attitudes have all been developed in the last 30 years. Being some of the most newly formed states in the world, these post-Soviet states are still in the process of expanding their legal codes, updating their electoral codes and institutions, and creating mechanisms to monitor the realization of gender equality. Each country in this region has experienced similar and unique barriers in their journey to state development, as well as some resounding successes that other countries should consider implementing within their own governments. Overall, this region is one of the most unique in the world, and there are many successes and challenges which can be identified to enhance our understanding of both the post-Soviet states and governments around the world.
Our research shows that while there are record numbers of women running for and serving in government, there is much to be done to ensure more women can run, win, serve, and lead in office in the United States and around the globe.
As it stands, the United States ranks 72nd (as of October 2022) according to the IPU’s monthly rankings of women serving in national parliaments. Not only is there much to be learned from the systems in place which allow more opportunities for women in office, there is also room to work with organizations, advocating for systems-based reforms. RepresentWomen studies best practices that have been proven to advance women’s representation and leadership around the world, and then advocates for use of those best practices in the United States.
Why should we care about system-based strategies that have worked to increase the number of women in government in other countries? Research in other countries shows that having more women in government has resulted in an increase of laws to protect victims of sexual harassment, rape, and domestic violence. Specific cases in countries like India and Norway also show that women politicians are more likely to address issues such as food security, childcare, and healthcare. This means that work done abroad has not only been successful in bringing more women to the table, but it has also produced policies that benefit entire communities. By observing and adopting some of the best practices that have worked internationally, the U.S. could enjoy similar, positive outcomes for women’s representation.
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RepresentWomen's mission is to reform the institutions and structures that hold women back from running for office rather than forcing women to change. Increasing the recruitment, training, and funding of women candidates will be more effective in getting women elected at every level of government. It's time we dismantle these barriers for women who want to run for office.