The herd stretched from horizon to horizon, with zebra and wildebeest grazing on their annual migration across the savannah. The two types had equal numbers and were evenly spread. Wildebeest had excellent smell but poor sight. Zebra had poor smell but excellent sight. The types complemented each other in a balanced response to predatory lions, when they tried to get close enough to run them down, undetected. When there was detection, they would escape. The mutualism had existed since time immemorial.
But all was not constant, for the wildebeests, who had always controlled the progress of the herd, were under pressure to share control with the zebras. Equal control by the two species was mooted. This was rejected by the wildebeest because they detected more lions and gave the alarm more often than the zebras, this being the rationale for the endemic imbalance. The zebras countered that their accurate vision enabled the subsequent escape to be navigated safely. It was unfair that their contribution had historically been rated lower and they should get at least equal control because of the importance of their vision to the group.
The elders met to consider what should be done. Control of the progress of the herd did not require an amount of ‘wildebeest smell’ or an amount of ‘zebra vision’. There were no grounds, other than traditional contributions, which the zebras rejected, for believing that any ratio of the two, other than equal amounts, could be better. Therefore, for group decisions, there should be equal numbers of voters and representatives. The two types could continue to balance each other, making their unique contributions, at all other times.
This allegory explains a case for equating numbers of representatives of each gender in the parliament of a population with equal gender numbers.
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