How Women Mobilize Women Into Politics: A Natural Experiment in India
44 Pages Posted: 1 May 2020
Date Written: April 23, 2020
A vast literature suggests that female political presence positively affects women's political knowledge and participation and that direct demonstration effects underpin these improvements. Seeing women in politics breaks down psychological barriers and empowers women to get into politics. This paper contributes with an additional explanation that female representation has mobilization effects. In constituencies with female politicians, female intermediaries are more likely to be recruited to conduct campaign contact, and women are more likely to be contacted during in-person campaigns. This personalized contact contributes to women's political engagement. The paper provides evidence by exploiting the natural experiment of as-if random assignment of gender reservations in Delhi and using original survey and qualitative data. Women in female constituencies are four times more likely to be contacted by female canvassers. Female constituencies halve the gender gap in campaign contact, which in turn is positively correlated with political knowledge and participation. The findings highlight a new pathway through which female politicians can reduce political gender gaps and influence the quality of female representation.
Keywords: Female political participation, symbolic effects, mobilization
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