Millennium Development Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Target: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015
Quotas can make an important difference. Whether legally mandated through constitutional or electoral law - often but not always the most effective approach - or based on voluntary actions by political leaders, quotas have led to dramatic changes in women’s political participation throughout the world. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, as a result of the introduction of quotas, Rwanda, for example, jumped from 24th place in 1995 to 1st place in 2003 in terms of women’s representation in parliament, while Costa Rica advanced from 25th place in 1994 to 3rd place in 2006. Afghanistan, previously unranked as women were denied the right to vote under the Taliban regime, now stands in the 25th position. Similar statistics hold true for countries as diverse as Argentina, Burundi, Iraq, Mozambique and South Africa.
Overall, of the 20 countries in the world with the most women in parliament, 17 (or 85 per cent) are using some form of quota system. While quotas are most widely used to increase the political representation of women in national parliaments, to date there are 30 countries that have constitutional or statutory quotas at the subnational level.
Source: UNICEF, The State of The World’s Children 2007, New York, 2006.