Ensuring Gender Equality in Parliaments: The Hidden Opportunities of Electoral Law

Although it has been decades since women gained the right to vote in most societies, they are still underrepresented in decision-making bodies. Women have over a quarter of seats in just 66 out of 193 legislatures of the World, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union data. The most common approach to ensuring gender equality is the introduction of quotas for parliamentary candidates. Yet, this solution can have an unintended effect of preventing the establishment of Feminist parties. My paper argues that an alternative option is to use the opportunities in proportional electoral systems, used in majority of countries. These systems usually provide bonuses, which translate in extra parliamentary seats. They either grant an additional advantage to the winning party or offset regional disparities. I will argue that such bonuses can also be used to enhance gender equality in parliament. Such a measure would mostly affect major political parties, thus giving it a synergistic impact.