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
Tags: electoral gender quotas, electoral system, lesotho, local councils, Local Government Elections Act, National Assembly, National Assembly Electoral Act
journal of african elections vol20 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa