n Journal of African Elections - Women's representation : the South African electoral system and the 2004 election

Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



This paper discusses the impact of the electoral system on women's representation and critically reviews the debate about women's representation in government. It shows that a shift has occurred from a concern with numbers (descriptive representation) to participatory representation where quantitative must be matched with qualitative representation. This means that more important than the numbers of women in government is the fact that their interests, experiences and perspectives should be voiced there. This shift has also altered the definition of 'critical mass' from one referring to a numerical value to one that notes the changes in institutional cultures and power shifts that are brought about by women. The significance of the results of the 2004 election is evaluated with these arguments in mind.

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