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Reforming Representation: The Diffusion of Candidate Gender Quotas Worldwide
Unformatted Document Text:  2 Reforming Representation: The Diffusion of Candidate Gender Quotas Worldwide In recent years, countries around the world have witnessed a surge of interest in patterns of political representation. At the empirical level, political transformations around the world have stimulated reflection on questions of institutional and constitutional design. In Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa, reformers have sought to devise new political arrangements in light of democratic transition and economic crisis. In Western Europe, pressures for devolution have culminated in the creation of new regional bodies which, along with increased European integration, have forced governments to recognize an emerging system of multi-level governance. At the theoretical level, scholars have challenged the dominant conventions of liberal democracy by rethinking the means and ends of the political process. Rather than viewing the political as a neutral arena, in which all citizens play an equal role, these theorists argue that liberal political arrangements create systematic distortions in public policies, as well as the potential for equal political engagement. Alternatives they propose include civic republicanism, deliberative democracy, and multiculturalism, all of which promote a notion of equality in a context of difference. These developments, both empirical and theoretical, have led to various innovations in political participation. The most common reforms, from a global perspective, have been provisions for the increased representation of women. Today, nearly all countries in the world have pledged to promote gender-balanced decision-making. 1 More than eighty have seen the adoption of quotas for the selection of female candidates, and more than twenty more have initiated quota debates over the last ten years. 2 These quota provisions fall into three broad categories: reserved seats, policies that set aside a certain number of seats in parliament for women; political party quotas, party-specific measures that aim at increasing the proportion of women among party candidates or elected representatives; and national legislative quotas, policies that require political parties to nominate a certain percentage or proportion of women among their candidates. Although some of these measures were adopted as early as the 1950s, the overwhelming majority have emerged only since the mid-1990s, leading many 1 In September 1995, the 189 member states of the United Nations unanimously signed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted at the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women. Section G outlines two core objectives: to take measures to ensure women’s equal access and full participation in power structures and decision-making, and to increase women’s capacity to participate in decision-making and leadership. See United Nations 1995. 2 Details on these policies are available on-line in the Global Database of Quotas for Women at http://www.idea.int/quota.

Authors: Krook, Mona Lena.
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Reforming Representation: The Diffusion of Candidate Gender Quotas Worldwide
In recent years, countries around the world have witnessed a surge of interest in patterns of
political representation. At the empirical level, political transformations around the world have
stimulated reflection on questions of institutional and constitutional design. In Latin America,
Eastern Europe, and Africa, reformers have sought to devise new political arrangements in light of
democratic transition and economic crisis. In Western Europe, pressures for devolution have
culminated in the creation of new regional bodies which, along with increased European integration,
have forced governments to recognize an emerging system of multi-level governance. At the
theoretical level, scholars have challenged the dominant conventions of liberal democracy by
rethinking the means and ends of the political process. Rather than viewing the political as a neutral
arena, in which all citizens play an equal role, these theorists argue that liberal political arrangements
create systematic distortions in public policies, as well as the potential for equal political engagement.
Alternatives they propose include civic republicanism, deliberative democracy, and multiculturalism,
all of which promote a notion of equality in a context of difference.
These developments, both empirical and theoretical, have led to various innovations in
political participation. The most common reforms, from a global perspective, have been provisions
for the increased representation of women. Today, nearly all countries in the world have pledged to
promote gender-balanced decision-making.
1
More than eighty have seen the adoption of quotas for
the selection of female candidates, and more than twenty more have initiated quota debates over the
last ten years.
2
These quota provisions fall into three broad categories: reserved seats, policies that set
aside a certain number of seats in parliament for women; political party quotas, party-specific measures
that aim at increasing the proportion of women among party candidates or elected representatives;
and national legislative quotas, policies that require political parties to nominate a certain percentage or
proportion of women among their candidates. Although some of these measures were adopted as
early as the 1950s, the overwhelming majority have emerged only since the mid-1990s, leading many
1
In September 1995, the 189 member states of the United Nations unanimously signed the Beijing Declaration
and Platform for Action, adopted at the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women. Section G outlines two
core objectives: to take measures to ensure women’s equal access and full participation in power structures and decision-
making, and to increase women’s capacity to participate in decision-making and leadership. See United Nations 1995.
2
Details on these policies are available on-line in the Global Database of Quotas for Women at
http://www.idea.int/quota.


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