Gender Equality in Elected Office in Asia-Pacific: Six Actions to Expand Women’s Empowerment

Guide / Training Material

September 24, 2012

Gender Equality in Elected Office in Asia-Pacific: Six Actions to Expand Women’s Empowerment


The recommendations in Gender Equality in Elected Office in Asia-Pacific: Six Actions to Expand Women’s Empowerment offer multiple policies to speed up gender equality. As every country has its own specific social, political, economic and historical circumstances no single approach will work, but the approaches outlined in the study have the advantage of being able to be individually tailored for each specific national context.

The six-step action plan suggests a range of options to increase women’s political participation, including:

  • Constitutional reform includes expanding rights to vote and to hold public office, removing any residual forms of sex discrimination. Constitutions can also incorporate positive action provisions, including specifying reserved seats or the requirement for legal quotas.
  • Electoral, campaign finance, and party laws regulate the nomination, campaigning, and election process for entering parliaments. The study demonstrates that countries using proportional representation party lists and mixed electoral systems included on average more women in their lower house of parliament.
  • Reserved seats and legal gender quotas are a related strategy which has been carried out during the last decade in almost a dozen Asia-Pacific nations. Overall the study demonstrates that the proportion of women elected to parliament during the last decade rose at a faster pace in Asia-Pacific countries which had implemented legal gender quotas compared with those which had not used these measures.
  • Party selection rules and nomination procedures are also vital for achieving gender balance in elected office. The design and implementation of party quotas varies across and within countries, for example in their target levels, how far there is rank ordering on party lists, and how far formal rules are respected in practice.
  • Capacity development policies and programmes, especially by civil society organizations working outside of parties, involving equal opportunity initiatives, have been widely used. These can include candidate training, induction and mentoring programmes, recruitment initiatives, and awareness campaigns to counter stereotyping of candidates according to their gender.
  • Gender-sensitive rules and procedures in elected bodies will help women candidates to do their jobs once in office. Gender issues should be integrated into all parliamentary committees, debates, action plans, commissions, report and legislation to make sure that there are equal opportunities for women and men members.


Pippa Norris
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