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The Impact of Women's Political Leadership on Democracy and Development

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Women’s minimal leadership role in national and local political spheres remains a serious concern worldwide. The Commonwealth Gender Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005–2015 calls on governments to introduce measures to promote at least 30 per cent representation of women in parliament, government and business.

The Impact of Women’s Political Leadership on Democracy and Development describes the barriers to women’s political participation and explains why the contribution of women is so crucial to democracy. It identifies established strategies – electoral reform (New Zealand), party voluntary quotas (South Africa), and legislative quotas (Bangladesh and India) – that have helped these Commonwealth countries to meet the global target of 30 per cent and thus to effectively advance the participation of women in decision-making at all levels.

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Conclusion: The Impact of Women as Transformative Leaders

In recent years there has been a growing recognition of the need to evaluate the impact of women on democracy and development. It is evident that with at least a 30 per cent majority of women involved in decision-making, a society’s overall performance improves. For example, Global Gender Index reports have shown a correlation between the increased participation of women and the development of societies in the areas of health, education, family care, social welfare, the environment etc. By contrast, countries with a low participation of women have seen a fall in the quality of social-related services. Consequently, more efforts are still required to ensure that a critical mass of women are elected into positions of authority and at all levels of decision-making.

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