Political parties

I can give only one example, when gender-neutral quota system was applied to ensure greater representation of men in politics. This happened in the Socialist People’s Party in Denmark, which is characterized by the great number of politically active women (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). However, this is but the only example. So, in this paper I will focus mainly on the quotas promoting women representation. “One cannot deal with the problem of female representation by a quota system alone.

Political parties, the educational system, NGOs, trade unions, churches  – all must take responsibility within their own organizations to systematically promote women's participation, from the bottom up. This will take time. It will not happen overnight, or in one year or five years; it will take one or two generations to realize significant change. This is what we are working on in Sweden. We did not start with a quota system. First we laid the groundwork to facilitate women's entry into politics.

We prepared the women to ensure they were competent to enter the field; and we prepared the system, which made it a little less shameful for men to step aside. Then we used quotas as an instrument in segments and institutions where we needed a breakthrough” (Birgitta Dahl, Speaker of Parliament, Sweden) (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). There has been a lot of debate over the implementation of quotas. There has been a lot of discussion whether quotas as the means of the increase of women representation in politics has a positive or negative result on the democratic situation of the country.

Those scholars, who oppose the implementation of quotas, give the following reasons: By implementation of quotas government actually gives preference to women, which means that quotas violate the principle of equal opportunity for everybody; Voters have less choice, their decision being shaped by quota limits. Thus, this can be considered undemocratic; Gender is overemphasized. Politicians are elected on the basis of their gender, not skills or qualifications; Some women realize that they are given preference on the basis of their sex and don’t want to be elected simply because they are women;

With the introduction of quotas there appeared great conflicts within the party itself (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). However, some scholars still support quotas, stating that their beneficial in a number of ways namely: Quotas, which are aimed on women promotion in politics, are not discriminatory, they compensate existing barriers, which hamper women participation in the political life of the country; Quotas imply that there are several women together in a committee or assembly, thus minimizing the stress often experienced by the token women; Due to quotas women obtain the right to equal representation;

Quotas ensuring women participation are beneficial for the political life of the country due to the fact that women’s experiences are different from those of male politicians and important for political life; Quotas ensure the fact that election is the process of representation, not educational qualifications; Quotas fight the idea of underestimation of women’s qualification in the political system of the country, which is male-dominated and discriminatory against women; It is untrue that quotas violate the voter’s freedom of choice, because it is the political parties, which are in control of nominations, not voters;

Even if quotas lead to conflicts, this is only a temporary effect (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). Anna Balletbo, member of Spanish parliament considers that: “Quotas are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they oblige men to think about including women in decision-making, since men must create spaces for women. On the other hand, since it is men who are opening up these spaces, they will seek out women who they will be able to manage ¬ women who will more easily accept the hegemony of men” (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007).