Quotas are the only effective mechanism for making real progress towards gender-balanced legislatures. Experience from democracies globally shows that countries using quota systems are generally closer to 50:50 than those without them. In countries (like the UK) with voluntary quota systems, parties using them are more representative of the electorate than those which do not. But the need for them is disappointing; they reflect the failure of mainstream political cultures to accommodate the majority of the population on a level playing field. Straighten the pitch, achieve true meritocracy, and the case for quotas will evaporate. Until then, they’re a regrettable necessity.
Nan Sloane, Director, Centre for Women & Democracy