Given the growing importance of state subsidies as a source of party income, several countries have introduced policies that link the provision of party funding to the promotion of gender equality in political representation. Variations in the assignment of public funding—that is, financial incentives and cuts—are increasingly employed to promote equal gender participation in intraparty politics and in public office. However, we know little about why and how these equality promotion policies have been adopted in different countries, how they work in practice, and, most importantly, what effects they have on women's representation. To contribute to this debate, after embedding gender-targeted public funding regulations in the broader set of political representation policies and presenting a comparative overview of existing rules in the European Union, the article concentrates on the Italian case. We examine the evolution of Italian regulation of gender electoral financing and the extent to which the Italian parties have complied with the rules over time. The results show that this set of policy instruments, when poorly designed, is nothing more than symbolic policy. The lack of appropriate mechanisms for sanctions and rewards, which can induce parties to change their behavior, has hampered the effectiveness of these policy measures.