OPINION: Political Participation Through Quotas

Isabelle Muller, Reporter

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The following is an opinion piece by the student author who wrote this after participating in the Yale Model United Nation Conference this year. She was a part of the Model UN Committee on Women.

In America, more women than ever are running and being elected to office. In light of recent events, however, many women in the United States have become aware of the fragility of their rights. One must also, however, keep in mind the struggle that women in other countries has as well. In Morocco, women have almost no representation in government. Fortunately, a quota system was introduced in 2011. Many believe that this is a flawed system, but without it these women would still have little to no representation.

In 2002, Moroccan government made an honorary agreement for a quota of 30 seats in the lower house of parliament to be reserved for women. In 2011, this number was made to be 60 and passed into law. Women held only 1% of  parliamentary seats in 1997, but today they hold 14%, six of which are in the upper house where there is no quota. The number of women elected to the lower house even surpassed the set amount. Additionally, there is a quota for one third of regional seats to be reserved for women.

One criticism of this system is that it acts as a glass ceiling. Some believe that when a quota is put in place, the number of women will never exceed that amount. This is simply not true. In just a few election cycles, more women have been elected than what the quota sets. It is better to think of this system as creating new perceptions. As people see more women in government, other women will be more likely to run themselves and voters will be more open to the idea of electing them. Especially as generations pass, this will make a huge difference.

Another complaint is that this will only bring uneducated and unfit women into office, thus compromising their parliament. The solution to this is not to elect only men or not have a quota, but to bring education reform and get young girls and women the education they deserve. Additionally, there are organizations such as the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening and Mouvement pour la Democratie Paritaire which advocate for women’s participation and hold workshops on the subject.

Promoting quotas in countries like Morocco will surely make their government and society better as no country can truly be for the people unless it encompasses them all.


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