Biology Reference
In-Depth Information
At the end of 2006, almost all of the 20 countries that had achieved the critical
mass of 30% had implemented some form of quota system to proactively reduce
the obstacles to women entering politics at the national level. While the efficacy of
quota systems is controversial, an example of their successful use comes from
Norway, where the government imposed a minimum of 40% on the female mem-
bership of boards in both public and private companies. With sanctions for non-
compliance, this resulted in female representation in the boardroom rising to 34%
by 2007, 10% ahead of any other European country (EC 2008 ). 17
With two women among nine Hoodia trustees, that committee has slightly less
than 25% female membership, which some might consider a reasonable propor-
tion, but the women are still decisively in a minority. It is important to remember
that many of the bodies involved in benefit sharing negotiations and decision-
making are quite small. The Kani Trust, for example, has only 11 members (so
even the two co-opted women give it only a 19% female membership). In such
small groups, the precise number of women becomes very important in terms
of appropriate representation: increasing the number of women from three to
four in a working group of seven people, for example, could shift the dynamics
At the 1995 Beijing Conference, 189 states adopted the Beijing Platform for
Action, which is considered a milestone in the enforcement of women's rights
across the world. One of the areas for action was Women in Power and Decision-
Making, in relation to which the platform recommends two strategies: 'Take meas-
ures to ensure women's equal access to and full participation in power structures
and decision-making' and 'Increase women's capacity to participate in decision-
making and leadership'. Both should be addressed by 'Governments, national bod-
ies, the private sector, political parties, trade unions, employers' organizations,
research and academic institutions, sub-regional and regional bodies, and non-gov-
ernmental and international organizations'. 18
It therefore seems that there is general international agreement on these goals
and requirements are in place for active measures to be taken by all sectors to
17 By 2011 this figure was 40.2% (Lord Davies of Abersoch 2011 : 24). Several EU member
states have recently started to act in this area and have introduced legally binding quotas for com-
pany boards. This includes Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, with Denmark,
Finland, Greece, Austria and Slovenia adopting rules on gender balance for the boards of
state-owned companies. The European Commission is currently considering whether or not to
impose quotas and legislation across European Member States. The European Commission Vice-
President for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Viviane Reding, launched a public
consultation in March 2012 to identify possible action at EU level (Reding 2012 ). A 2011 report
Women on Boards (Lord Davies of Abersoch 2011 ) for the UK Government published a road-
map for UK plc businesses to achieve 25% female representation on boards by 2015, relating this
clearly to questions of corporate governance.
18 The Platform for Action outlines 12 critical areas of concern where the violation of women's
rights and gender inequality persist, and proposes strategic objectives and actions for each (see
UN 1995 ).
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