Electoral case study concerning women and politics - The Chief Electoral Officer of Québec examines factors that might influence women to enter the political arena

October 9, 2014

Quebec City, October 9, 2014 –– In an electoral case study released today, the Chief Electoral Officer notes that after having experienced a gradual increase in the number and influence of women in provincial politics between1976 and 2003, Québec has, in the last 10 years, entered a period in which the percentage of female MNAs has stagnated, in spite of the holding of four general elections. As a contribution to discussions on this situation, the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec is outlining incentives and factors designed to help more women accede to elected positions.

The electoral case study concerning women and politics includes three major sections. First it portrays incentive measures used in 34 states to encourage women to become involved in politics and examines the true impact of these measures. A second section focuses on factors that might influence women to enter the political arena and looks at the situation of Québec with respect to these factors. Lastly, the study puts forth a series of potentially applicable measures and makes recommendations that could be implemented in Québec so as to increase the political representation of women.

Incentives for more women to enter the political arena

The Chief Electoral Officer’s study enumerates and analyzes a vast array of incentive measures, including voluntary quota systems adopted by political parties or quota systems prescribed by legislation; internal objectives adopted by parties; changes to the electoral system; and the development of training programs.

Concerning the effectiveness of these measures, the study concludes that they will have a greater impact in conjunction with factors having an influence on women’s political representation, including socio-cultural factors such as women’s political socialization, or socio-economic factors such as levels of economic and human development. In this sense, measures that bear fruit in one country may prove ineffective in another.

Québec’s record

Québec compares favorably with other states when it comes to a general acceptance that women and men must be equal. Moreover, socio-economic factors do not necessarily prevent Québec women from acceding to an elected position. The challenges to be met instead appear to be at the level of political parties, and include making a better effort to recruit female candidates and to select electoral divisions where women would have a reasonable chance of being elected. The study therefore recommends that political parties be encouraged to adopt plans to promote a greater representation of women.

Efforts could also be made to educate the public regarding the political system, especially at the high school level, thus leading to a fuller understanding of democratic procedures and providing bedrock political socialization for Québec’s citizenry.

The document specifies that the adoption of measures designed to improve women’s access to parliament or municipal council does not mean that gender must take priority over competence. It is not a matter of providing an unfair advantage for women, but rather “of erasing a pattern of historical and systemic inequity currently standing in the way of gender equality.”

The study entitled Women and Politics: Influential Factors, Incentives and Overview of the Situation in Québec, published as part of the Electoral Case Studies collection is available for consultation on the Chief Electoral Officer’s website at www.electionsquebec.qc.ca.


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Categories : Provincial, Election system, DGE

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