Institutions, Not Culture: Explaining the Failure to Elect Women in Indigenous Southern Mexico
36 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 29 Sep 2014
Date Written: August 15, 2012
This paper argues that the exclusion of women from political offices in Mexico and Latin America’s customary law communities, more broadly, is much more than a problem of the purported patriarchal cultures of indigenous and rural communities. We claim, based on a comprehensive survey of 466 mayors in the indigenous state of Oaxaca, that the underrepresentation of women is a function of institutions limiting female candidates. We test this “candidate pipeline” hypothesis, adapted from U.S.-based studies, against the hypothesis that culture — as measured by indigenous ethnicity — has an independent effect on women’s representation. The paper disconfirms that patriarchal, traditionalist cultures of indigenous communities cause underrepresentation in the election of women and instead finds that a particular set of local institutions, which are more prevalent in indigenous municipalities, blocks the pipeline of potential women candidates. We conclude by considering the normative implications for customary law representation.
Keywords: Multiculturalism, gender, representation, women, elections, indigenous, Latin America, Mexico, customary law, indigeneity
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