Feminist Interventions in Political Representation in the United States and Canada: Training Programs and Legal Quotas

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Published in European Journal of American Studies

While many countries have adopted quota laws to regulate the election of women to political office, the United States and Canada seem unaffected by this trend. In this article, I seek an explanation for this and examine the role of women's movements and some of the initiatives launched over the last 25 years to counter the problem of low numbers of elected women in Canadian and American parliaments. I examine features common to the approaches of American and Canadian women's movements, both of which are characterized by a strong emphasis on training for political office and an absence of mobilization in favor of legal quotas. Women's groups involved in the promotion of women in politics in the U.S. and Canada do not support the strategy of legal quota implementation; rather, one type of intervention is favored over all others: training programs. I conclude that the absence of campaigns for legal quotas in Canada and the United States can be linked to the lack of mobilization for quotas on the part of women's organizations. However, from a feminist perspective, training programs for women who want to run for office are grounded in problematic assumptions.

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