The systemic under-representation of women in national and local legislatures has led many countries to adopt gender quotas as an affirmative action measure. Gender quotas - defined as any measure that specifies a certain level of political representation based on sex - are a common tool in national legislatures. Quotas are particularly common in Africa, 42 of the continent’s countries have some form of quota in place, and have been written into many national constitutions following periods of political transition.
Despite the widespread use of quotas, their record of successful implementation and in increasing female representation has been mixed. Kenya is no exception. The country’s gender quota is based on the requirement in the CoK 2010 that no one gender account for more than two-thirds of representatives – it is therefore known as the two-thirds gender rule. Yet today Kenya has one of the lowest levels of female representation in East Africa, with women accounting for only 19% of the National Assembly. In order to address this issue, a national debate is underway to determine the most effective formula to successfully implement the quota.
This debate over the implementation of the gender quota can benefit from examining how similar policies have been implemented in other African contexts. An examination of five case studies (Niger, Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana and Morocco) reveals that gender quotas are an effective way of increasing female representation but also that their success depends on several additional factors. In particular the conduct of political parties, the electoral system and the role of civil society are as important as quotas, if not more so, to achieving real improvements in the role of women in politics. As Kenya debates the implementation of the two-thirds gender rule it could benefit from exploring the successes and failures of other African countries that have implemented gender quotas. To read more, Click on the image to download the report