27, September, 2013

Promoting Gender Equity in Politics Through Affirmative Action Measures: Latin American Gender Quotas

Since 1991, fourteen Latin American countries have implemented gender quotas. These have enabled the region to establish one of the highest levels of women’s representation in political decision-making structures around the world.

Since the 1990s, the majority of Latin American countries have implemented gender quota legislation in order to raise the proportion of women participating in political decision making. This Brief analyses the impact these laws have had on the number of women in Latin American parliaments, as well as the conditions that have made certain quota laws more successful than others. Latin American experience of gender quotas in legislative elections has many lessons to offer since this region ranks amongst the most inclusive in the world.

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Key Lessons:

  • Well-designed gender quota legislation enables governments to increase the representation of women in political decision making spaces, and represent a first step towards equal representation between men and women.
  • To improve women’s opportunities to get elected, quota norms need strong enforcement mechanisms and should contain a positioning mandate.
  • Proportional representation systems with closed lists are provide a more favourable context for quota norms to achieve success.

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