Analysis: The Efficacy Of Gender Quotas

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The efficacy of gender quotas in politics remains uncertain. Critics of quotas argue that quotas will lead to tokenism, with elite women being placed in office to promote a party agenda, or perpetuate “descriptive representation,” the idea that only a woman can represent women. Supporters of quotas view them as necessary to overcome cultural barriers that bar women from political office without waiting decades for gradual change. Regardless, the majority of African countries with high female participation in political office have utilized some form of gender quota, such as constitutional quotas, election law quotas, and political party quotas, to increase women’s political participation (Bauer et. al 2008; Conner 2008). South Africa and Uganda …show more content…
South Africa first began to hold democratic elections in 1994. Then, in 1996, South Africa’s new constitution was created with an equality clause to acknowledge gender parity. This gender parity was reflected in women’s representation in Parliament, which increased from 2.7 percent before the 1994 elections to 27 percent immediately after. In 2009, this number had risen to 44 percent (Hills 2015). Party quota adoption by the African National Congress, the predominant party in South Africa, has led to a contagion effect, where smaller parties follow suit and adopt voluntary quotas (Britton “Gender Quotas” 2006). The adoption of gender quotas in South Africa came as a result of women’s lobbying after the destruction of the apartheid state. South African women, especially members of the African National Congress, spent time in exile during the fight to end apartheid rules. While in exile, they were exposed to the international women’s movement and new forms of feminism, which influenced the ideas they brought back to South Africa (Bauer 2008; Britton “Gender Quotas” 2006; Britton “South Africa” 2006). Women’s representation in South African parliament has grown as a result of voluntary party quotas, which were influenced by women in exile and accelerated by a contagion effect. This literature review will focus on the ways in which women MPs since 1994 have used their position to improve the lives of everyday …show more content…
First, they have made sure that women’s issues are not marginalized (Britton “Gender Quotas” 2006; Britton “South Africa” 2006; Conner 2008). Second, they have used their position to pass legislation that improves the life of both the average woman and the woman in politics (Bauer 2008; Bauer et. al 2008; Britton “South Africa” 2006). In South Africa, the Women’s National Coalition (WNC), created in 1991 and unifying over 100 women’s groups, played a key role in advancing women’s equality (Britton “South Africa” 2006; Conner 2008). The WNC developed the Women’s Charter, which laid out a plan of action for the movement. One of its main goals was to use the constitution to promote women’s equality in the constitution. The actions of women through the WNC led to the creation of the Gender Advisory Committee (GAC) for Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA). However, women wanted to avoid having gender issues dismissed to just the GAC, so they successfully lobbied to have one member added to each negotiating council in South Africa, provided that the member could be a woman from the party. Some see this as the first major victory for women in post-apartheid South Africa (Britton “South Africa” 2006). Moreover, South Africa has made sure to not marginalize women’s rights by dispersing a network of institutions in three areas of government: the executive branch, the

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