The goal of reducing gender inequalities in political representation has been elusive in many different kinds of political systems, even though women have made substantial progress in legal rights, education, economic resources, employment opportunities, and healthcare in the same polities. This book argues that gender quotas are an important strategy to improve women's political representation in legislatures and political parties and it lays out the history of this approach across the globe. It suggests however, that gender quotas are themselves not an 'easy fix' to gender discrimination since similarly designed quotas have had different outcomes across cases. The book's comparative approach untangles the various factors which need to be considered in designing, lobbying for, and implementing gender quotas so that they can be effective. While teasing out some shared experiences, this volume encourages coalitions of activists to develop context-appropriate strategies to craft effective campaigns to end women's exclusion from poltiical decision-making. It also emphasises that women's movements need to build public support for gender quotas and influence their design and implementation if they are to move beyond 'tokenism' and significantly improve political representation for women. It is a tremendously useful and informative volume for activists and scholars across the globe and does a masterful job in explaining divergent outcomes both within regions and across them. Hoodfar and Tajali argue that although more and more countries are successfully and creatively using gender quotas, some of the wealthiest long-standing democracies still continue to experience greater legislative gender inequalities.
-Diane Singerman (Co-Director of Middle East Studies at American University)
Homa Hoodfar is Professor of Anthropology at Concordia University. Her primary research and expertise lies in the intersection of political economy, gender, development, women's movements and electoral politics in the Middle East. She has extensively studied indigenous empowerment strategies amongst those marginalised by legal constraints particularly in the area of family law and citizenship, economic penury, the making of civil society, women in local and national politics and displacement, with a particular focus on women in Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and amongst Canada's Muslim community. She has written extensively on reproductive health policies, their discursive justifications, and impact and implications for women's lives. She has been actively involved in Women Living Under Muslim Laws since the 1980s and is currently a WLUML board member.
Mona Tajali is an independent researcher and a PhD candidate in the Department of Humanities at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, where she researches women's political participation and representation in the Middle East, with particular emphasis on gender quotas as a strategy to address women's underrepresentation. She currently researches and teaches on topics of gender and Islam, human rights in Muslim cultures, and Muslim women's political rights and access to decision-making positions. Her doctoral research is entitled "Women's Political Participation in Iran and Turkey: An Analysis of Obstacles and Strategies to address them". She also holds a degree in Political Science and Religion from the University of Florida, USA and a Masters degreee in Human Rights from the University of Manchester, UK where she focused on women's rights and status in the Islamic Republic of Iran. She has collaborate with the Women Living Under Muslim Laws' Women and Politics Programme, and participated in many workshops and international conferences on issues of gender and electoral politics and female authority in Islamic thoughts.
Publication Author: Homa Hoodfar and Mona Tajali