Mandatory Electoral Gender Quotas in Georgia. 2022

Mandatory Electoral Gender Quotas in Georgia. 2022

November 28, 2022

The analytical desk research examines the outcomes of public opinion polls undertaken after Georgia introduced mandatory gender quotas in 2020, looks into policies adopted in the same period and examines whether electoral quotas indeed supported women in entering political careers.

It also provides a set of recommendations for political parties and lawmakers aimed at enhancing electoral gender quotas and giving women better access to the resources and services they need to win in politics.

The research was commissioned by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with support from the UK and Sweden.

Key findings:

  • Georgian society supports gender equality in politics and governance. Public opinion polls, as well as the present research, show evident public support for gender equality.
  • Political parties broadly support gender quotas, admitting that the quota mechanism helped discover and promote active and talented women candidates who previously, were engaged in little more than party jobs.
  • Political parties either do not have internal gender-related policies, or the policies they do have are weakly designed and implemented. Sustainable political parties with strong internal democratic mechanisms that recognize the importance of women’s participation, human rights, and gender equality and their role in addressing it remain the challenge.
  • The term of validity for the mandatory gender quotas remains the challenge. While mandatory gender quota is always viewed as a temporary mechanism, best international practice suggests that countries that have adopted mandatory gender quota, do not set a period for its validity.
  • The proportion for the mandatory gender quotas remains the challenge. More than half of Georgia’s population are women. However, their representation in the parliament makes up only 19 percent. As the international community aims for 50 percent of women’s representation in politics, the current proportion (required distribution) of mandatory gender quotas in Georgia is not sufficient to achieve substantive equality and ensure equal representation of women in the Parliament.
  • Political parties do not have clear rules for finding, attracting, engaging, or promoting female candidates, which impedes the involvement of more women in political life. No political party has developed a professional development system for party members.
  • Publicity can be particularly difficult for female candidates and politicians as they face a litany of gender-based criticism and scrutiny (e.g. age, appearance, personal life) that is seldom directed at male candidates and politicians. There are no proper mechanisms to address such situations, either at the party or national level.
  • Viability between elections and the day-to-day activities of the party during the non-election period remains a challenge for political parties.
  • The existing financial incentive mechanism for political parties is ineffective and needs to be revised. In the 2020 Parliamentary elections, only three political parties took advantage of the extant financial incentive by nominating more women candidates than the quota stipulated. Existing practices reveal that the financial incentive mechanism for political parties needs further refinement.  

Key recommendations:   

  • Along with women's increased representation, women's meaningful participation is the key. Political parties need to develop and implement inclusive and diverse gender equality policies within parties, including intra-party gender quotas, equal distribution of resources, and enhancement of recruitment and professional development systems.
  • The legal framework needs to be reviewed to extend the validity period of the mandatory gender quota beyond the currently stipulated end date of 2028 (local level) and 2032 (national level). It can be implemented by removing the "sunset clause" from the Election Code of Georgia. 
  • The legal framework needs to be reviewed to expand the current proportion of mandatory gender quotas. Based on existing evidence, it is suggested to introduce national level partly lists with one if every three candidates of a different gender for the 2024 and subsequent elections and to switch to parity (one of different gender in every two candidates) from 2032. As for the local-level party lists, it is recommended to present one in every two candidates of a different gender for the 2025 and subsequent elections. 
  • The legal framework for the existing financial incentive mechanism needs to be reviewed with the consideration of changing the formula. Such an approach, in turn, will increase the effectiveness of the financial incentive.