Co-authored by Clare Richardson.

PHOTO: An Afghan parliament member (L) votes on a list of cabinet nominees at the parliament house in Kabul, January 16, 2010. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

It’s International Women’s Day, but hold the confetti. More than a century after the first Women’s Day celebration—a socialist proposal inaugurated in 1909—fewer than one in five parliamentarians worldwide are women.

Acknowledging the inequality, many countries have implemented voluntary or mandatory minimums for the percentage of women in government. Such quotas are supported by a wealth of leaders, including U.N. Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, who has said she “[encourages] countries to use quotas to expand women’s participation in parliament.”

Yet gender mandates have their detractors, who say the idea of reserving seats for women is ineffective at best and undemocratic at worst. One criticism holds that quotas delegitimize female politicians, who are seen as not having “earned” their positions. In some countries, women serve in government as puppets for their husbands, and in others female politicians with limited powers are seen as little more than window dressing.

What follows is a handful of national case studies, quick looks at where women’s representation – and particularly their meaningful participation – has increased or not. For more on quotas, this handy map outlines which countries reserve seats or legislate quotas for women.