Friday, September 07, 2012

How to design a female quota to fail

I am not a big fan of female quotas in general. I find it devalues a woman's achievement and in most cases is mainly cosmetic, allowing for unqualified females to attain certain positions and proving counterproductive in the long run. I am more in support of drastic solutions like as an overhaul of the education system, because how else will you change citizens' perceptions and behaviors? Legal instruments addressing gender discrimination in the work place and elsewhere that are properly enforced is another long term but effective tool. But of course these approaches are too difficult and controversial to implement by politicians seeking quick returns.

Jordan's election law is a prime example of how terrible a female quota can be. Here's an excerpt from a good analysis on 7iber by David Fox:

"Several other features of the electoral system contribute to making it a regressive, unrepresentative body, including – paradoxically – the women’s quota. Each governorate is allotted a quota of one woman for a parliamentary seat. In the rural governorates, these women are vetted through male-dominated tribal patriarchies, with female candidates expected to take the ‘tribal line’ on issues, including support for honor crimes and other forms of institutionalized gender discrimination. If we consider the women elected to parliament as the voice for women in their respective governorates, than the modern, socially and economically empowered women of Amman face severe discrimination in comparison to women from the rural governorates. The women of Amman are, for example 27 times less represented in Parliament than Jordan’s least populated governorate, Tafileh."

This is what happens when there is no genuine interest in advancing women's involvement in political life.

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