Women's Empowerment and Democratization: The Effects of Electoral Systems, Participation and Experience in Africa
Studies in Comparative International Development, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 28-53, Spring 2004
26 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2007 Last revised: 9 Jan 2014
This article investigates four hypotheses suggested in the literature on women's political empowerment, operationalized here as increased legislative representation. These hypotheses are that (i) electoral systems manipulate women's political empowerment; (ii) the presence of larger parties in proportional representation systems enhance women's political empowerment; (iii) increased popular participation empowers women in particular; and (iv) accumulated experience gained over several electoral cycles facilitates increases political empowerment of women. In Africa, as well as in other parts of the world, majoritarian systems discriminate against women, while the effect of large parties in proportional representation systems is more ambiguous, and popular participation and repetitive electoral cycles are increasing women's legislative representation. This article demonstrates the value of studying gender relations under democratization, even with a narrow institutionalist focus using an elitist perspective. Finally, it shows that institutions can travel over diverse contexts with constant effects.
Keywords: women, democratization, electoral systems, Africa, empowerment, legislative representation
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