Gender Quotas in Belgium: A Never Ending Story of Gendering Compartmentalized Citizenship?

25 Pages Posted: 29 May 2015  

Petra Meier

University of Antwerp

Date Written: 2015


This contribution brings together the more partial analyses of the panoply of Belgian gender quotas. By putting the different gender quotas in a comparative perspective, we hope to contribute to a better understanding of eventual broader patterns underlying the Belgian gender-quotas landscape. More precisely, this contribution focuses on: i) a comparative analysis of the quota rules set for the different sectors; ii) the domestic factors playing a role in the putting on the agenda and adoption of gender quotas; and iii) inter-, supra-, and transnational factors and the interplay of different political levels in the adoption of gender quotas. The analysis shows that Belgium, a traditional laggard when it comes to gender equality, imposes gender quotas by law on a broad range of sectors (elected political office, advisory committees, boards of listed and state-owned companies, and decision-making bodies in universities), turning Belgium into a world leader in gender quotas. This top-down process would not have been possible without the persistent agency of the women’s movement, especially actors embedded within the women’s branches of a certain number of political parties, and the underlying concept of citizenship – because it echoes it. While inter-, supra-, and transnational influences cannot be denied, it is mainly domestic factors that played a role in this success story – at least when compared to a number of other cases. The gender quotas for the various sectors tend to build on each other, clearly showing evidence of a contagion effect.

Keywords: Gender quotas; Electoral politics; Listed and state-owned companies; Advisory committees; Universities

Suggested Citation

Meier, Petra, Gender Quotas in Belgium: A Never Ending Story of Gendering Compartmentalized Citizenship? (2015). EUI Department of Law Research Paper No. 2015/25. Available at SSRN: or

Petra Meier (Contact Author)

University of Antwerp ( email )

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerp, 2000

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