Mongolian pop singer and single mother Nara swapped her trademark miniskirt for a traditional "deel" to campaign in tented slums for a seat in parliament, but would-be female parliamentarians face an uphill challenge as the country goes to the polls Wednesday.
Women politicians have been making strides in Asia in recent years, and on some measures Mongolia fares well on gender equality, but weeks ago mostly male MPs voted to reduce a quota for female candidates.
Nara, 33, whose full name is Munkhturiin Narantuya and who has a two-year-old son, aspires to "change the system, involve myself to influence how the system should work", she told AFP as she walked past open drains in Mongolia's capital Ulan Bator.
A Mongolian court ruling in May changed the electoral system from proportional representation to a first-past-the-post model. In a separate parliamentary decision, the quota of seats for women has been cut to 20% from 30%.
13 women likely to be elected (up from 11 in the previous election)
Are gender quotas helping female politicians in Asia? 24 June 2016. The author, Netina Tan, of McMaster University discusses the types of quotas in use and their effectiveness in getting women into parliament. We quote from the paper which provides more detail:
My research suggests that the efficacy of quotas is contingent on the electoral system, party system institutionalisation and the political will to enforce and comply with the quota. For example, South Korea’s weakly institutionalised party system based on male-patronage networks lacks the will and ability to enforce and comply with quotas. The importance of political will is also reaffirmed when we consider how Singapore’s PAP unilaterally raised the number of female candidates from zero in the 1980 general election to a high of 20 women (22.5 per cent) in the 2015 general election without legislating quotas.
While proportional representation electoral systems are more likely to support female candidates, quota rules also need to specify the ordering of women candidates on the party list. For example, South Korea’s ‘zipper quota’ system mandates that a woman must be on every odd number on the party list. Without this, female candidates risk being placed at the bottom of the lists and therefore have no chance of being elected. This very problem happened in Mongolia which had no clear rule on the placement of candidates on the list.
In South Korea parties fail to honour pledges on gender allocations:
While the 20th National Assembly has the highest proportion of seats held by women in its history, at 17 percent, gender disparity was still prevalent during the general election in April, a study showed Tuesday. The study, organized by a group of former and current women politicians, found that only 10.5 percent of all 934 nominated candidates who ran for constituency seats were women.
Among the 51 women who secured seats in the parliament, 25 of them were elected by proportional representation. ‘Both the ruling and the opposition parties had initially pledged that they’d allocate 30 percent of all nominations for assembly constituencies to women, but it never ended up happening,’ researchers for the group wrote in their report.