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Equality for Women - Temporary Special Measures and Quotas Print E-mail
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Written by Contributed by WIN-Belize   
Thursday, 13 June 2013 16:23

The Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), makes provision for countries to adopt the use of quotas and temporary special measures.  These measures are intended to fast-track and facilitate women's ability to function as equal partners in development, globally.  Despite the commitment made to CEDAW, to the Beijing Platform for Action, and the Millennium Development Goal #3, Belize,  like many of its global and regional counterparts, is still lagging behind in the implementation of its commitment; specifically, the commitment to facilitate the process of ensuring that more women are able to fully participate in the political life of the country, at every level.

 The progress towards leveling the playing field for women has been advancing slowly but steadily across the globe, as well as in the English speaking Caribbean.  This progress is due in no small part to the adoption of temporary special measures, quota systems, and legislative changes specifically designed to ensure that women are represented at the decision making table in Parliament.

Quota Systems
More than 50% of the countries in the world utilize some form of quota system.  There are primarily two types of quota systems, namely candidate quotas and reserved seats quotas. 

Candidate quotas require that a certain percentage of candidates be women and it applies to political parties lists of candidates for election. ("A situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize" P 20)
A reserved seat is another form of electoral quota which sets aside a certain number of seats for women, as specified either in the constitution or in legislation. ("A situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize" P 21)

Quota systems can be implemented voluntarily by Political Parties or legally via legislated quotas.

Re-search also shows that the use of quota systems produces dramatic results, and that more than 100 countries worldwide, use some type of quota system.  Without quotas, Belize will not reach gender balance in political representation for decades.

Temporary Special Measures
While the implementation of quotas are best suited to an electoral system that utilizes a proportional representation system of electing representatives, there is research to support the implementing of quotas, in a First Past the Post electoral system, as is utilized in Belize.

Political Parties in other countries have utilized measures such as all women's shortlists, which requires specific constituencies to consider only women as candidates for nomination in that specific constituency, all seats in which the incumbent was not seeking re-election to be reserved for women candidates only, and designating at least 30% of all other seats as being for women only. (Situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize, December 2012)

The adoption of Temporary Special Measures and quotas which provide penalties for non-compliance, are guaranteed mechanisms for ensuring that women in Belize participate fully in the political life of our country.

When you know better, you do better; now that we know better, let's do better.