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

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

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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Foreword and About the contributors

As part of the global landscape, our achievements in the Commonwealth often mirror the trends across the international arena. The global target of 30 per cent of women in decision-making across all sectors was adopted at the Fifth Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (5WAMM) in 1996. It is encouraging to note that some Commonwealth countries have gradually been able to achieve this target in parliament and local government. In 2013, at least 11 member countries were in the top 40 countries of women in parliaments: Rwanda tops the list with 56 per cent women, closely followed by Seychelles with 43 per cent and South Africa with 42 per cent. A third of members have a minimum of 20 per cent representation of women in parliaments, and the share of women ministers averages at 20 per cent.

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