From Global Policy to Local Knowledge: What is the Link between Women's Formal Political Participation and Gender Equality in Conflict-affected Contexts?

What is the Link between Women's Formal Political Participation and Gender Equal

We report findings from a systematic review of literature on women's formal political participation in fragile and conflict-affected states. In many postconflict contexts, quotas for women's formal participation are introduced as part of restructuring the political and social landscape. While many women take part in formal politics, many more still experience inequalities determined by their gender positions. Our analysis assesses the evidence used to substantiate the support for the prevailing global policy prescription for women's participation in formal political structures and the impact of this on general gender equality. We explore the association and relevance between the available knowledge, evidential claims based on these and the prevailing policy and practice to advance gender equality. Good policies require in-depth knowledge about the field within which policies intervene. One of our central findings is that the research continues to produce knowledge about the mechanisms that help to elect women rather than knowledge on the gender outcomes of these processes within the larger society.

Policy Implications

  • Do not assume that once women are elected gender-equality outcomes are a foregone conclusion. Knowledge is needed to identify mechanisms and local pathways that are effective in producing desired gender outcomes.
  • Policy makers should consider the link between available knowledge and their policy aims. Knowledge is needed on the conditions in postconflict situations under which women participate in political systems and on how quotas are interacting with these existing relations.
  • Policy makers should consider the link between available knowledge and their policy aims. Knowledge is needed on the conditions in postconflict situations under which women participate in political systems and on how quotas are interacting with these existing relations.
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