Quotas or Proportional Representation? A Selective Review of the Evidence


Increasing women’s representation in the parliaments of the world has become an increasing field of debate: not about whether this should happen anymore, but rather about what is the most effective method to achieving this. This a slowly developing consensus that some kinds of electoral processes are more effective than others, but there is still a good deal of complexity surrounding both the best electoral method and the factors that impinge on getting women elected.

Zimbabwe in the past two parliaments adopted a reserved seat, proportional representation, approach. This has resulted in more women being elected to parliament, but it seems at the expense of less women being directly elected. In 2018, there were few women selected by political parties as candidates and voting for women candidates was extremely low. The reserved system is due to expire in 2023, and there is active debate on the way forward for the future, especially in the light of the constitutional requirement for equality in representation and office.

This article reviews the arguments and evidence for proportional representation and quotas. It concludes that, for Zimbabwe, proportional representation and a 50/50 quota will be the most effective way to honour the constitutional requirement of Section 17.

Download full report here (736KB PDF)

Source: Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU)

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