Hastings Women’s Law Journal


This article examines some of the issues surrounding attempts to increase the participation of women in formal political structures. Although prominent on the international agenda, only Scandinavia comes close to a true gender balance. Within an international political and legal context, this article examines the remarkable improvement in female representation which has occurred in Scotland since 1997. Scotland is an ideal case study with recent elections to the Local Councils, the Scottish Parliament, the national Westminster Parliament and the European Parliament. In some instances, different techniques of affirmative action or reverse discrimination were employed. Each of these elections will be examined in turn. In conclusion, it will be submitted that the law permits affirmative action measures to redress existing gender imbalance. Now, all that is needed is the translation of the law and the political rhetoric into reality.