Why Bolivia’s Lawmakers are 50% Women
Despite historic gains in the past two congressional elections in the US, women hold just 27% of the seats. As Americans prepare to reshape Congress in the midterms, could Bolivia inspire change?
Bolivia is one of the few countries in the world where roughly 50% of lawmakers at every level of government are women.
This is no accident, but the result of an electoral law which requires half of all party nominees must be female.
Quotas were introduced in 1997 when just 9% of Bolivia’s national parliament were women. Later on it was made part of the constitution.
“Lately we’ve seen certain countries backslide on women’s rights,” said Adriana Salvatierra, who was a senator from 2015 to 2019, and became the youngest ever president of Bolivia’s Senate.
“Putting it in the constitution makes it harder to undo. And that assures change in the longterm.”
Bolivia is near the top in global terms as well, according to figures from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), some way ahead of the US.
Women hold just a quarter of the seats in Congress and only nine of the 50 US states has a female governor. It’s just as dismal in state legislatures and city halls.