South Africa now has 45 per cent women in parliament due to the 50 per cent quota accepted by the ANC before 2009 election. Quotas are now globally used to get more women into government but it begs the question whether larger numbers of women in government contribute to policy influence that will benefit all women. This article grapples with this issue by looking at what we can learn from comparative studies. I then apply a theoretical framework developed by Mona Lena Krook that includes the following aspects to explain the successes or failures of quotas to make a difference: Actors that campaigned for the quotas, motivations in the campaigns, the context in which the quotas were introduced and the normative institutions supporting quotas. I conclude by arguing that one of the underlying assumptions of quotas is that ‘women are virtues and will support other women'. We need to shift this thinking to an understanding that women are self interested individuals just like men and I illustrate this with women parliamentarians belonging to the ANC Women's League.