Throughout the world, progress is directly linked to the proper representation of women at the decision-making level. Ten years ago, European structures substantially raised the bar on women’s representation by suggesting that political parties include at least 40% women in their electoral lists for proportional representation, at the same time ensuring the sequence of women and men candidates. In the RA gender policy strategy plan (2011-2015), the RA government planned “to undertake special measures to provide 30% women’s representation at decision-making levels in both the legislative and executive bodies”. And although they did not succeed in realising this, during that time the UN proposed a more ambitious vision, that of the 50/50 by 2030 participatory resolution, which also entered the sustainable development agenda. Taking into account that at least 3 parliamentary elections are to be expected in Armenia before 2030, it is obvious that the process must be speeded up in order to reach equality, ensuring women’s representation of at least 30% in the composition of the NA. It is this minimum thre hold that is the basis for several proposals concerning the draft of the new electoral code. Four different structures have presented proposals for the provision of at least a 30/70 proportion in the NA: The Gender issues thematic group, which works under the co-chairmanship of representatives
of the UN, OSCE and RA government and unites the representatives and experts of around 60 local and international organisations, the Association of Women with University Education with its regional branches, the Association of Young Lawyers of Armenia , and also two committees of the public council.
Why is the demand for 30% women’s participation particularly emphasised? The basis for this is international parliamentary practice. According to this, opportunities for impacting the decision-making culture , reforming political game rules, making politics more humanitarian only arise when the “critical mass” of women’s representation is ensured; that is, when women make up no less than 30% of parliament.
To what extent today’s political party elite are prepared for such a sharp change is another matter.
Political elders express their concern that the parties will not be able to provide women candidates with worthy qualities corresponding to the quotas and put forward the principle of “Better few, but good than many, but bad”; whereas, the percentage of women with higher education in Armenia surpasses that of men and, doubtless, the number of intelligent and active women who are able to successfully work in parliament is not just a few. And if such women are not in political parties, then that is the problem of the parties. In this sense, perhaps the quotas will force the parties to worry about the problem of preparing quality political cadres and freeing the electoral lists of the practice of including “bogus candidates”.
Besides, the “Better few, but good than many, but bad” principle is equally valid for men, whose numbers in politics in no way improves quality....