This chapter argues that the Sudan experience puts into question the quota as a pathway for political power. It also argues that an explicit concern with numbers, and by extension quotas, can lead to unexpected pitfalls, since centralised and authoritarian regimes (and parties) can readily impose quotas from the top down. Quotas do not by default widen or transform political opportunities for women who come from diverse backgrounds and who carry with them complex identities, and in fact, quotas can serve to consolidate the status quo ‑ both at the level of party politics as well as in regards to patriarchal conceptions of women’s place.
Examining women’s alternative trajectories in politics as non-quota political candidates reveals the diverse ways in which women are apprenticed into politics, and the ways in which they negotiate their place in it, both vis á vis one another, and in relation to men. The chapter also suggests that the focus on a technical ‘fix’ to enhance women’s opportunities for political engagement can blind development actors to other issues that can make a pronounced difference in women’s political journeys, namely the relationships that women build on multiple levels and their ability to tap into different social and political repertoires at various points. It is through the latter that constituencies are often built, and political apprenticeship developed.