Many countries around the world have recognised the under-representation of women in politics and started to adopt measures to help women enter politics and national legislatures. However, most of the research to date has focussed on explaining the process of women’s entry into politics, rather than whether and how they can make a difference once they enter parliament.
Some of the key areas for supporting gender equality in electoral assistance programmmes include: the legal framework, electoral management bodies, political parties, voter registration, civic and voter education, the electoral campaign, and polling, counting and monitoring/observation.
Some of the most common obstacles to the entry of women into parliaments include:
- Lack of political party support
- Lack of coordination and support networks between women MPs and other public organisations
- The dominance of male-oriented norms and male-dominated structures which work against women’s public participation
- Insufficient mobilisation of media support
- Lack of large-scale leadership-oriented training and education for women
- An electoral system that is not conducive to women’s participation
- The lack of quota reservations. Whilst quotas can contribute to an increase in the number of women in parliament, it is the interaction of quota systems with other factors in a particular country, such as the type of electoral system, the legal environment, and the nature of women’s movements, that is key.