Gender and Decision-Making
7 June 2015
7 June 2015
Policy interventions on gender equality such as legislation and quota for the less represented gender are a step ahead towards equality between women and men. They are envisaged in the Beijing Platform for Action and other strategic documents on gender equality at the global and local level as necessary mechanisms to tackle gender inequalities in general and decision-making, in particular. Today, many states around the world have adopted gender equality laws and other affirmative actions to ensure a fair representation of women and men in decision-making. Alas, gender equality legal provisions are, in many ways ‘de jure’ and not ‘de facto’ as the implementation is lacking in practice. Moreover, they have not withered away gender stereotypes that underpin the public discourses and interact in such a way as to maintain the position of women as ‘second’.
In Kosovo, the position of women in the structures of political power is an indication of an environment that enables women to participate in politics and decision-making processes. The gender equality law has foreseen a gender quota. Moreover, the gender quota has been made part of the electoral law whereby 30 per cent of the candidates in lists have to be women. The gender quota is applied in the distribution of seats in the Kosovo Assembly and the municipal assemblies in which women currently occupy 30 per cent of the seats. However, women still remain under-represented in decision-making. The gender quota principle is not applied in the government where one ministry is headed by a woman: the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and one woman is a Minister without Portfolio. And only the municipality of Gjakova has a woman as a mayor. Nor is the gender quota applied in the political party decision-making bodies. Political parties are dominated by men and no political party represented in the Kosovo Assembly is led by a woman.
Hence, one may ask if such a representation reflects a real empowerment of women in decision- making or is it mere tokenism. Indeed, women in politics and decision-making are powerful actors, yet the system in which they operate is maintained through symbolic representation. The gender quota, indeed controversial for many, is a strategy against tokenism providing the means for women’s representation in decision-making.