The issue of whether gender quotas should be incorporated within parliament is currently undergoing discussion. But against all the positive light being shed on gender quotas by certain individuals in government, it is essential that we assess the negative repercussions these could bring.
Gender quotas are often hailed as the modern-day solution to curbing gender disparity, aiming to ultimately end gender inequality within the political sphere. Gender quotas would ensure that there is a growing number of women within parliament. Taking a look at our parliamentary context, one would be met with a great gender imbalance. Yet, it is my belief that just like you cannot fight fire with fire, you cannot fight gender discrimination with positive discrimination.
If discrimination in itself is frowned upon, as it should, then we cannot use it to our advantage simply because it suits the narrative we are portraying. This is one of the biggest problems within modern politics; understanding the negative impacts of policy, but taking advantage of it when it works with what we are trying to sell. As a young woman who aspires for a career within the field of diplomacy, I am no stranger to the adversities and imbalances which exist within the political world. Yet, such imbalances should not be challenged through policy which would lead to the discrimination of another group of people. In itself, the gender quota system is a means through which democracy is intentionally ignored in order to suit one specific group of society. Such a system is therefore not only undemocratic in itself but shows a lack of confidence in the voters. It is the voter who elects an individual as his
Through gender quotas, an individual could be elected purely on their gender, rather than their being the best fit according to the voters. Creating a situation in which a number of parliamentary seats would be solely awarded to female candidates could hinder competent individuals from gaining a deserved seat, and in turn, lead to the election of individuals who are not suitable for such a job.
Placing a quota system doesn’t ensure that the number of women who do indeed engage in politics and throw in their candidature would increase. So, therefore, you could potentially end up with a scenario where said seats are filled in by individuals who are not prepared, generating a bad reputation (one of a lack of proper competence) for the women who were voted into parliament based on their own merit and strive.
There is no doubt in my mind— nor should there be in anyone’s, that women and men are equally competent. If we truly want to increase the number of women within politics, we should do this by raising leaders and creating an environment through which men and women feel equally comfortable and secure that they have opportunities to engage within the political sphere.
If we want to make the end to gender discrimination, our battle cry, then we should staunchly oppose the imposition of gender quotas and the perverse discrimination which they bring. Women should be elected based on their competence, whether as representatives or leaders.
Implementing gender quotas would be a laugh in the face of female leaders who have arrived to their positions on their own merit. Such women have not only been monumental in shaping history, but also in inspiring young girls to strive for what they want on their own terms. Angela Merkel, one of the most influential women in contemporary times, spoke out against the implementation of gender quotas. The great Margaret Thatcher also opposed quotas. Despite her opposition to quotas, Thatcher still remains one of the greatest inspirations to aspiring female leaders across the globe, having famously said that, “In politics, if you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman”.
Written by: Juanita Galea
(This article was originally posted on civilsocietymt.com)