A parliamentary quota system for women is defined as a tool used by countries and parties to increase women’s representation in legislature.
It is generally understood that women are largely underrepresented in parliaments and account for a 25.8 per cent average in parliaments globally.
As of November 2021, gender quotas have been adopted in 132 countries and vary greatly in their enforcement around the world, and the stage of electoral process targeted. There are three main types of quotas: legislated candidate quotas, voluntary party quotas, and reserved seat.
The legislated candidate quotas are found in countries utilising proportional representation by requiring parties to include a certain minimum percentage of women in their candidate lists which requires all parties to abide by the rule. The legislated quotas are commonly found in Latin America, such as in Argentina.
On the other hand, voluntary party quotas leave it up to individual parties to implement guidelines regarding how many women are included on party lists; this is predominantly found in Europe where the quotas are applied in systems with liberal political culture and left-leaning parties.
The reserved seats quotas guarantee the number of female legislators holding seats in legislature by setting aside a certain percentage of seats for women.
But regardless of their existence, the systems are a controversial measure, creating debates concerning their impacts, both negative and positive.
In Ghana, discussions and debates have gone on for a long time without any concrete action by both country and political parties.
The Ghanaian Times has also on a number of occasions in the past, added its voice to the debate in support of the quota system for women but regrettably our efforts have not yet bore fruits.
Notably, however, civil society groups and individuals as well as politicians continue to advocate parliamentary quota to increase women participation in legislature.
The latest to make such a call is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma West Constituency in the Greater Accra Region, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, who made a strong argument for the adoption of the quota system for women.
She pointed at efforts made in the past by political parties slashing filing fees for women which she described as not enough of an affirmative action.
According to her, devising a quota system as a policy was the only way to get more women into Parliament.
She recalled that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) while in opposition attempted implementing the policy of reserving safe seats for women which was however aborted after massive resistance.
The Ghanaian Times joins hands with the quota advocates to demand that political parties adopt the quota system that reserves safe parliamentary seats for women during elections rather than reducing filing fees for women to contest elections.
Although we contend that women must get into parliament on merit, we are of the view that the quota system can be implemented to encourage competent women to take up the challenge to enter parliament.
We agree with the position that such a policy would get more women into Parliament and also encourage them to increase their participation in the governance structure of the country.
We also add our voice to the call to political parties to critically consider implementing an effective and efficient quota system that would seek to protect women parliamentarians while creating the opportunity for more women to become MPs.
We call on the government, CSOs and the political classes of the country to champion the cause of women and push for the necessary reforms aimed at increasing proportion of women in Parliament and the entire governance structure of the country.
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