Women occupy 18.5 percent of the seats in national parliaments around the world (Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2009). While this is a small minority of all representatives, the degree of women’s exclusion from political office varies enormously across the globe. However, most countries have registered increases in recent years in the numbers of women elected. In many cases, a crucial drive for change has been the adoption of quota policies to facilitate the selection of female candidates. All the same, not all quotas are equally successful in increasing women’s political representation: some countries experience dramatic increases following the adoption of new quota regulations, while others see more modest changes or even setbacks in the proportion of women elected.
Further, quotas appear to have mixed results for women as a group: some have positive consequences for public policy, while others appear to undermine women as political actors.
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