75 pivotal public policies: Rwanda’s parliamentary quota

Following the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, when between 800,000-1m people were killed, Rwanda’s surviving population of between 5.5m-6m was between 60% and 70% female. The country’s new constitution, adopted in 2003, reserved 30% of parliamentary seats for women.

In the event, the 2003 election resulted in 48% of parliamentary seats going to women. In the following election, this rose to 64%, the largest share going to women in any country.

Although controversial, quotas seem to have played an important role in those countries that perform best on female representation in parliament. Rwanda is currently one of only four countries where half or more of the parliamentarians are women. Parliaments in a further 19 countries are more than 40% female (nine in Europe, five in Latin America and the Caribbean, four in Africa and one in the Pacific). More than two-thirds of these countries have some form of quota designed to ensure a minimum number of seats go to women.


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