Speakers draw on regional experiences to raise questions on how quotas advance equality
The fourth in a series of webinars tackling contemporary women's issues, organized by Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU)’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), gathered parliamentarians, civil rights activists, and advocates to discuss the adoption of gender quota systems in the Arab region on July 7.
Although the introduction of electoral quotas for public elections - requiring a percentage of female representation - has been controversial in some countries, research has shown these to be effective in ‘fast-tracking’ women’s political representation to produce equality of results, not only equality of opportunity.
Panelists from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Bahrain shared experiences of different types of quotas and how successful they have been in mobilizing women into political life and the labor market in their respective countries, and globally. Prominent speakers included Samia Melki Fessi, civil rights activist and President of KADIRAT, a women’s organization in Tunisia; Khawla Ben Aicha, political and civil rights activist; Fatima Outaleb, human rights and advocacy expert; Nourah Labiod, parliamentarian and civil rights activist; Somaya Al Jowder, physician and politician; and Houda Slim, President of the Arab Women Parliamentarians Network for Equality (Ra’edat).
During the exchange, moderated by Nourah Al Kuwari, a graduate of the MA in Women, Society and Development Program at CHSS, and member of the Qatari Women’s Affairs Steering Committee, the panel turned to whether the quota system was needed in the fast-developing MENA region. Speakers reflected on the impact of increasing women’s participation and advancing gender equality by having women’s interests represented in the political sphere.
Dr. Amal Al-Malki, founding dean, CHSS, commented: “The webinar was an excellent forum for CHSS to initiate a social debate on electoral quotas as one mechanism used internationally to advance gender parity. In introducing quotas, each country confronts a range of different contexts, which is why it was important to bring together a range of influential voices to share the results it has had. This is also the role of our Qatari Women’s Affairs Series, to encourage critical thought that challenges the kind of open discussion which can facilitate a deeper understanding.”
The Qatari Women's Affairs Series is organized by graduates of the MA in Women, Society and Development program to tackle women’s issues in the light of societal progress and economic development in Qatar.
To learn more about the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, its activities, and events, visit chss.hbku.edu.qa.