How Women Mobilize Women Into Politics: A Natural Experiment in India

Posted: 1 May 2020 Last revised: 9 Apr 2021

Date Written: April 5, 2019


Female representation is expected to increase women’s political participation through demonstration effects. Yet, in low-income patriarchal settings, demonstration effects cannot lower family constraints on women’s mobility, and low political knowledge limits the scope of agency. This paper presents a novel argument that accounts for these political economy constraints. I argue that female representation has mobilization effects. Female politicians simultaneously lower family and party-organization constraints to recruit women as party-activists. Consequently, female-led mobilization puts female party-activists at the helm of ground campaigns, shrinking the gender gap in partisan contact; receiving partisan contact mobilizes women’s political participation. Evidence from the natural experiment of randomized gender quotas in Delhi and data from rep- resentative citizen and elite surveys support this argument. Female representation has spillovers through female-led party building which equalizes recruitment and mobilization - two key functions through which parties perpetuate gender inequality.

Keywords: Female political participation, symbolic effects, mobilization

Suggested Citation

Goyal, Tanushree, How Women Mobilize Women Into Politics: A Natural Experiment in India (April 5, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Tanushree Goyal (Contact Author)

Harvard Weatherhead Center ( email )

K239 1737 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics