The United Kingdom is concerned by the low number of women in leadership positions, and in particular, in politics. Although various legislation and campaigns have been put in place to encourage women to fight for leadership positions, statistics paint a not so impressive image in this regard, especially, when looking at the ratio of men to women in political representation. It is this concern that has made the United Kingdom to consider the implementation of Quotas in her house of representative so as to rectify the imbalances between men and women elected to represent her citizens. However, it is debatable whether such a move is desirable and necessary to solve the current problem in the United Kingdom. Therefore, the description below intends to demonstrate why such a move is not only desirable but also necessary. In so doing, the report will use other countries and the current political landscape in the United Kingdom as evidence for why quotas are both desirable and necessary in the union.
Why Quotas are Necessary for the United Kingdom Women Representation
A number of political reasons make quotas a necessary means to raise the number of women in politics. Therefore, it is essential to consider political changes in women shortlisting that have taken place in the UK. For instance, prior 1997, women represented 13 percent in the House of Commons. However, the labor party saw it is wise to introduce all-women shortlist in the subsequent election, surprisingly, the move increased the number of women to twenty percent after 1997. It was a seven percent increase, and the largest to ever happen in UK’s history at the time (Childs, and Withey, 2004, pp.552-564). By 2010, the number of women had gone up to 23, a successful feat that was recognized by both Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party. It is an effect that led to the then leading political leaders, Clegg and Cameroon to support their party for such a move to fill the void that exists of women representation in politics. It is this practical example, embraced by the main political parties in the UK that has proved that specific measures are essential to raise female participants in politics (Squires, 2004, pp. 49). Therefore, it fits to be used as evidence as to why Quotas are necessary means of raising this number of representative in the United Kingdom.
However, 23 percent indicated, although it may appear impressive when comparing it to earlier parliaments, still, there is the need for adjustment because statistics show that women represent over fifty percent of UK’s population (Squires, 1996, pp.71-89). The political party’s shortlisting of all-women as a method to solve the problem was able to achieve a small but significant increase. However, a more drastic move need to be in place for gender balance to be realized (Childs, and Withey, 2004, pp.552-564). In this case, introducing quotas that stipulates a certain number of women in various political positions is far much better, and this is the reason that makes introduction of quotas necessary in the United Kingdom.
Why Quotas are Desirable for Women’s representation in UK’s Politics
There are many ways that one can use to determine whether quotas are desirable or not, and for this case, when applied in the United Kingdom. This report will consider various theories that have been put forth to explain representation and what makes gender balance an essential ingredient in political representation by using UK’s political situation. Two of the leading scholars, Burke and Ann Phillips studied political representations and came up with a number of conclusions. Burke suggests that the function of political leaders does not confine itself at delivering on their demands and wishes, but instead, extends to the point of the politician coming up with his or her ideas that he or she deems fit for his or her constituents (Phillips, 1991, pp. 64). In this respect, other scholars, for instance, Ann Philips stipulates that not all issues are better addressed by males and that women address certain issues better than men (Phillips, 1991, pp. 66). Therefore, quotas are desirable to raise or fill the void that exists within the UK political representation so that more women will be involved in politics.
On the other hand, although the two arguments illustrated above regarding gender balance show that the move is desirable, they fail to show how such a move lead to women receiving more representation. However, this report is of the view that such a move will also increase representation that women will receive (Besley et al., 2017, pp.2204-42). The point of view is arrived at by looking at other jurisdictions that have more women in legislative assemblies, and which have proved that as a result of the increased number, more issues related to women are addressed more efficiently than say, in the United Kingdom. For instance, studies conducted on other countries which included but were not limited to Sweden and Rwanda demonstrate that having a legislative assembly that is gender balanced increases the initiation of women related projects and boost the quality of leadership (Besley et al., 2017, pp.2204-42). In addition, according to United Nations report, experts are of the view that participation of women in politics has significant impact, one of which is advocating for fairness among males and females (Union, 2005).
Argument for Quotas in the UK women representation
The report has focused on demonstrating why quotas are desirable and necessary in the UK. It is therefore important to look at whether its implementation can achieve its intended aim, which is, rectifying gender imbalance in UK’s houses of political representations (Mackay, 2004, pp.99-120). The report is of the view that quotas can achieve that and have proved in other countries to raise the number of women in political positions. A good example that the UK can learn from, is Argentina, a country from South America that has since introduced and analyzed the significance of quotas in politics (Franceschet, and Piscopo, 2008,pp.393-425 ). For the case of Argentina, she introduced her quota policy in early 90s, which made it mandatory for both of her houses to have 30 percent of seats reversed for women. In addition, her constitution advocates for the same by stating that equality of opportunity for both sexes must extend to political and elective party seats and to ensure that this takes place, the country has embraced positive action as a way of ensuring that political party conform to the regulation. Owing to its implementation, there has been a significant change, or rather increase in the number of women in Argentinian parliament. For instance, from 1991 to 2012, the figure of female’s representative skyrocketed from 6 to 37 percent. In addition to the increased number of women in parliament, the country elected the first female president in 2007 (Franceschet, and Piscopo, 2008, pp.393-425). This is indicative of the impact that quotas can have.
The illustration above suggests that quotas in politics, in addition to being desirable and necessary in UK politics, they are also useful in increasing the number of women representation in politics. Therefore, there are a number of things that the UK has to do to achieve this, but first and most importantly, is to embrace electoral reform (Pande, and Ford, 2012, pp.39). However, as indicated in the Argentinian case, the law has a duty to enforce this reform in a bid to create a fair and equal society, where both men and women participate at the apex stage of the country. In that respect, this report is of the view that introducing quotas in the UK will not only solve the problem of gender imbalance in her political arena, but most importantly, create a political environment that has a broader perspective of the things that affects the society, both for males, and females.
Lastly, scholars have tried to look at this aspect in both sides, that is, in regards to its advantages and disadvantages, which can also be applicable for the case of the United Kingdom’s aim of introducing quotas (Pande, and Ford, 2012, pp.36). To start with, the Advantages;
They help bring about equity in representation, thus, act as corrective measures.
Secondly, they help to bring about change that may otherwise be hard to achieve, as far as reshaping the political landscape in the UK is concerned.
In addition, quotas make it possible for other women and girls with political ambitions have more role models.
They may be viewed as discriminating against men, especially, when the two are eying the same seat.
In addition, scholars argue that women who join politics through quotas may not be respected by people since they were not elected.
The report has demonstrated that quotas are both desirable and necessary in UK’s politics so as to achieve a number of things, least of which is increasing the number of women representatives, as can be seen in Argentinian example. Also, it is evident that other jurisdictions that have embraced quotas into their political outfits, such as Sweden and Rwanda have posts impressive leadership results. Therefore, the UK needs both electoral and legal reform to see it working.
Besley, T., Folke, O., Persson, T. and Rickne, J., 2017. Gender quotas and the crisis of the mediocre man: Theory and evidence from Sweden. American economic review, 107(8), pp.2204-42.
Childs, S. and Withey, J., 2004. Women representatives acting for women: sex and the signing of early day motions in the 1997 British parliament. Political Studies, 52(3), pp.552-564.
Franceschet, S. and Piscopo, J.M., 2008. Gender quotas and women's substantive representation: Lessons from Argentina. Politics " Gender, 4(3), pp.393-425.
Mackay, F., 2004. Gender and political representation in the UK: the state of the ‘discipline’. The British Journal of Politics " International Relations, 6(1), pp.99-120.
Pande, R. and Ford, D., 2012. Gender quotas and female leadership.
Squires, J., 1996. Quotas for women: fair representation?. Parliamentary Affairs, 49(1), pp.71-89.
Squires, J., 2004. Gender quotas in Britain: a fast track to equality?. Department of Political Science, Stockholm University.
Union, I.P., 2005. United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, 2005. Women in politics: 2005.