Women’s Representation in Lesotho’s Legislative Bodies: A Politico-Legal Analysis of the Effectiveness of Electoral Gender Quotas

Women are under-represented in legislative bodies in the majority of
countries, and Lesotho is no exception to this worldwide trend. In an
attempt to address this problem, the country has adopted, through electoral
laws, electoral gender quota systems for both local and national legislative
structures. The country has introduced a 30% gender quota requirement
for election to the local councils at the local level. At the national level, it
introduced a ‘zebra list’ – the condition that when political parties submit
lists for the purposes of 40 proportional representation (PR) seats in the
National Assembly, the names must alternate between those of men and
women. The idea was to attain 50% representation of women in the National
Assembly, at least for the 40 PR seats. The effectiveness of these two quota
systems in enhancing women’s representation has been the subject of
intense disagreement. The animating question is whether, since the adoption
of gender quotas, the representation of women in legislative bodies has
improved. The article investigates this question using the qualitative content
analysis method. The central hypothesis is that electoral gender quotas in
Lesotho, particularly at the national level, have not significantly improved
the representation of women. The paper critiques the models used and makes
some recommendations for reform.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
journal of african elections vol20 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa