About the Project
The evidence throughout the world illustrates that there are numerous obstacles to women's political participation. Women's participation and representation in decision making bodies at executive and legislative levels has increased over the past decades, this has been slow and uneven across the world. In national parliaments, the global average of seats held by women is only 22%.
Increasing women's participation and representation in political life requires efforts to address political, economic, social, cultural and religious constraints within both formal and informal public and private spheres. A range of strategies such as quotas have been proposed and implemented to help increase women's representation in positions of power and decision making.
As the debate about the use of quotas as a tool to increase the political participation and representation of women was gaining momentum, in 2003 International IDEA and Stockholm University initiated a research project leading to the collation of comparative knowledge and resources on the implementation and impact of quotas. In 2009, this cooperation expanded to include the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The first step in the collection of global information on quotas was the development of this website database. The Database provides information on the various types of quotas in existence today, detailing the percentages and targets in countries where they are applicable. This Database is intended as a working research tool. That is, it will continue to expand as more information becomes available and is verified. Only countries with electoral gender quotas will be found on this web site.
Click here for more information on quotas and the database.
The information in the Database will inform further research to be undertaken in this regard. International IDEA and Stockholm University have spearheaded the studies on quotas, the debates and decision-making processes that led to their introduction, the implementation of various types of quotas including formal and informal quotas and the effects of quotas. Through quota seminars for researchers and practitioners held in a majority of regions in the world, International IDEA and the quota research team at Stockholm University have spurred investigations on gender quotas in many countries and regions.
From a series on women's political participation and representation that are being implemented, International IDEA has published the Quota Report Series. Building on workshops held in Asia (Indonesia 2002), Latin America (2003), Africa (2003), Europe (2004), Arab world (2004), these reports compile the experience of researchers and practitioners who have worked on the issue of quotas in their respective countries.
- The Arab Quota Report: Selected Case Studies (An International IDEA Report)
- The Implementation of Quotas: African Experiences (An International IDEA Report)
- The Implementation of Quotas: Asian Experiences (An International IDEA Report)
- The Implementation of Quotas: Latin American Experiences (An International IDEA Report). Spanish translation: La aplicación de las cuotas: experiencias latinoamericanas
- The Implementation of Quotas: European Experiences (An International IDEA Report in collaboration with the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity and the CEE Network for Gender Issues)
- The book Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers, ed. By Julie Ballington and Azzra Karam (revised ed. 2005) which has reached a large audience all over the world, contains a chapter and several case studies on gender quotas.
- An academic book has been produced and edited by Drude Dahlerup: Women, Quotas and Politics (Routledge 2006). Researchers from all major regions in the world analyse the adoption and effects of gender quotas. Click here for more information on this project: www.statsvet.su.se/quotas
International IDEA is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. IDEA undertakes its work through providing comparative knowledge resources and tools, influencing policy and politics, and support democratic reforms. This is done in electoral processes, constitution building processes, political participation and representation, democracy and development, gender in democracy, democracy assessments and addressing crosscutting issues on conflict, security, diversity and gender.
The IPU is the international organization of Parliaments, established in 1889. The Union is the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy. It seeks to foster contacts, co-ordination, and the exchange of experience among parliaments and parliamentarians of all countries.
At the Department of Political Science at Stockholm University, Drude Dahlerup is heading a research project entitled: "Quotas - a Key to Equality? An International Comparison of the Use of Electoral Quotas to obtain Equal Political Citizenship for Women". The project is supported by the Swedish Research Council.
Other researchers at the university included: Christina Alnevall, Emma Frankl, Lenita Freidenvall, Mona Lena Krook and Anja Thorup Nordlund.
Quotas and the Database
The International IDEA, Inter-Parliamentary Union and Stockholm University Global Database of Quotas for Women contains information on the use of electoral quotas for women. In this project, electoral quotas are defined as mandatory or targeted percentages of women candidates for public elections.
An electoral quota for women may be constitutional, legislative or be in the form of a political party quota. It may apply to the number of women candidates proposed by a party for election, or may take the form of reserved seats in the legislature. Quotas and other affirmative action strategies may apply to minorities based on regional, ethnic, linguistic or religious cleavages. However this Database focuses on gender quotas, that is quotas that apply to women for elective office.
In this Database, the Quota Types referred to include:
- Legislated Candidate Quotas: This quota provision reserves a number of places on electoral lists for female candidates.
- Reserved seats: Reserves a number of seats in a legislated assembly for women.
- Voluntary Political Party Quota: These are rules or targets set by political parties to include a certain percentage of women as election candidates. This does not include quotas for internal party structures.
These provisions may be mandated in different Quota Sources:
- Constitution: The quota provision is provided for in the Constitution.
- Electoral law: The quota provision is stipulated in the national legislation of the country.
- Political Party Statute: A quota provision for the electoral lists formulated in the political party statutes.
In addition, there can be a legislated quota — either reserved seats or candidate quotas, provided by the constitution or by electoral laws — for electoral assemblies at sub-national levels (including local, district or state/provincial levels). The information about sub-national level quotas provided is however not exhaustive. The main focus of the information in the Database is located at the national level.
The quota targets (per cent or number of women) differ from country to country. Quotas may fix the target at a certain percentage (for example, 30%) or they specify the ordering of women and men on party lists. Quotas may also apply at different stages of the selection process (for example, they may apply in the nomination process or at the end of the selection process of election candidates).
A minimum requirement for women implies a maximum set for the representation of men. Since women are the under-represented group, most regulations aim at securing women a minimum number of seats. However, in some countries quota regulations are formulated in a gender neutral way, such as a maximum of 40% of either sex. A 50-50 quota is gender neutral, and also sets maximum for women's representation as well as men's.
If a country is not listed in the Database this is because, to our knowledge, no quotas for women have been adopted.
The Database seeks to illustrate the status quo. Attention is primarily directed towards the quota legislation and political party quotas that are implemented today, but previous quotas that no longer apply may also be presented.
The aim of the Database is to provide key provisions relating to quotas, why, for some countries, detailed information on how the quotas came to be implemented can be found. For a deeper and more detailed understanding of the various trials of implementing quotas — present or previous — case studies, books and reports are listed below Additional Reading. Please note that only sources dated 1995 or later are presented.
The Database details quota regulations but does not specify whether these were complied with in the last election (other than by providing the number of women elected). The high or low representation of women may be because of factors other than actual implementation of quota regulations (such as the strength of the women's movement).
A global overview of the use of electoral quotas for women is accessed through the Search pages. Here, it is possible to see how many countries that have adopted constitutional quotas, legislative quotas and quotas adopted by one or more political parties in a specific country. As the website provides information about quota types and rules, it aims to provide the data and not to make conclusions about the connection between types of quota provisions and the representation of women globally. Further research is needed to illustrate the effect of quotas for women in different countries.
Data collection methods
From the beginning, the Database illustrated the situation as of March 2003. It was the first available global overview over the use of electoral quotas for women, and data has been collected through many different sources, including, in order of authoritativeness: Constitutions and electoral laws, parliamentary websites and political party websites. The Inter-Parliamentary Union's website on women in parliaments, as the standard reference in this field, has been of great help. We have also consulted many other international databases and separate websites on parliaments, political parties, and international organizations.
Official electoral statistics on gender is not available in all countries in the world, although an increasing number of countries now comply with the demands of the international Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) for solid gender statistics. In gathering all this information, we have also benefited from research made by other scholars as well as from our personal networks worldwide. In order to check and verify the information, we have personally contacted numerous political parties, individual politicians and Electoral Management Bodies around the world, and we want to thank all for the help we have got.
Explanation of concepts and fields
The data is presented according to which level it concerns. At the top of each country page, information on the quota system for the Lower House (if parliament is bicameral) or for the Single House (if unicameral) will be found. Due to the relative importance of the Single/Lower House to political decision making in most countries, this quota provision holds a substantial weight in promoting the political representation of women.
Country: We have used the common English name of countries. Inclusion of a country on this list should not be seen as a comment by Stockholm University, International IDEA or Inter-Parliamentary Union on the status of that country or on the nature of its elections. Even if a country has not gained full international recognition, it may have adopted quota provisions for women in its legislative assemblies. In such cases, the information will be accessed via the entry “Special Areas”.
Total women / % women: Presents the number of seats in the Single/Lower House gained by female candidates in the most recent elections for which results are available. If the Parliament is bicameral and if the legislated quota provision or the voluntary quotas adopted by political parties applies also to elections to the Upper house, these numbers will be presented further down the page.
Electoral System: We use the classification from the International IDEA project on electoral systems. Full explanations can be found at www.idea.int/esd.
Election details: For more detailed information about election results or previous elections, each country is linked to the IPU database Parline. Data are election day figures, and do not include changes between elections.
Quota Type: Explains the kind of quota that applies to the legislative assemblies: legislated candidate quotas, reserved seats, or quotas adopted voluntarily by political parties. The quota type is presented according to the level to which it applies. One country may have several quota types.
Quota Source: Explains where the legislated quota is formulated. If the source is marked as Constitution, the quota is set down in the constitution of the country. If the source is Electoral Law, the quota is stipulated by the national legislation.
Legal Sanctions for Non-Compliance: This refers to legislation or regulations that apply to the enforcement of quotas, i.e. what penalties are involved if the quota provisions are not followed. Only legislated sanctions, and not internal party regulations, are included.
Voluntary Political Party Quotas: These are rules or targets set by political parties to include a certain percentage of women as election candidates. Only quota provisions written into the statutes of the parties are included, not recommendations and targets (“Soft quotas”). The parties featured here are the ones we know have adopted quotas in their statutes. If you know of parties that have quotas but are not presented here, please contact us. Only parties represented in parliament are included.
Quotas at the Sub-National Levels: Where we have data on quotas used at elections for sub-national legislatures, we have included them under this section.
Additional Information: This field includes additional information on quotas in a particular country. This may include information on legislation that has been proposed (and not passed) in parliament, or information on the representation of women in sub-national legislatures. We make no comment on the status of the legislature.
N/A: We use the term N/A to refer to information that is not applicable for a given country or a given quota system.
Countries and regions in this website do not represent the official position of the partners with regard to the legal status or policy of the entities mentioned. It is a harmonisation of often divergent lists and practices.