In 2015, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women will carry out a review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995) and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (2000). This will mark the 20th anniversary of the two internationally adopted declarations that stress the need to ensure equal rights of men and women.
This brief sets out a framework in which to address the objective outlined in Millenium Development Goal (MDG) 3, which aims to promote gender equality and empower women. Of the three targets set for this goal, one relates to political empowerment of women as measured by the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments. In this paper we set out the key arguments for the importance of women’s representation in democracies. We then assess the obstacles and strategies for increasing numerical representation through mechanisms such as quotas all the while highlighting the importance and relevance of women political participation.