A quota is a positive measurement instrument aimed at accelerating the achievement of gender-balanced participation and representation. It establishes a defined proportion (percentage) or number of places or seats to be filled by, or allocated to, women and/or men, generally under certain rules or criteria. Quotas can be applied in order to correct a previous gender imbalance in different areas and at different levels, including in political assemblies, decision-making positions in public, political life and economic life (corporate boards), as well as to ensure the inclusion of women and their participation in international bodies, or as a tool to promote equal access to training opportunities or jobs.
Quotas aimed at increasing gender-balanced representation may be mandated by the constitution or by electoral, labour or gender equality law (legal gender quotas, which may entail sanctions for non-compliance), or applied on a voluntary basis (voluntary political party quotas). Types of quotas also differ depending on the aspect of the selection and nomination process that the quota targets.