IDEA International has created the Global Database of Quotas for Women to measure political participation of women around worldwide jurisdictions. Women's participation and representation in decision making bodies at executive and legislative levels has increased over the past decades, this has been slow and uneven across the world. In national parliaments, the global average of seats held by women is only 18.4 percent.
Given the slow speed by which the number of women in politics is growing, there are increased calls for more efficient methods reach a gender balance in political institutions. Quotas present one such mechanism. The introduction of quota systems for women represents a qualitative jump into a policy of exact goals and means. Because of its relative efficiency, the hope for a dramatic increase in women's representation by using this system is strong.
The core idea behind quota systems is to recruit women into political positions and to ensure that women are not only a few tokens in political life. The database distinguishes between three types of gender quotas used in politics:
- Reserved seats (constitutional and/or legislative)
- Legal candidate quotas (constitutional and/or legislative)
- Political party quotas (voluntary)