Electoral Gender Quotas and Measures of Institutional Gender Inequality
Glock-Molloy, Victoria Anne
Bednarzik, Robert W
ELECTORAL GENDER QUOTAS AND MEASURES OF INSTITUTIONAL GENDER INEQUALITYVictoria A. Glock-Molloy, BAThesis Advisor: Robert W. Bednarzik , Ph.D.ABSTRACTWomen experience discrimination and gender-based inequality in numerous ways, from the unequal property and custody rights found within legal systems to the acceptance of domestic violence or sexual harassment that still prevails throughout the world. Collectively, these types of occurrences are termed "institutional gender discrimination," or "those established laws, customs, and practices which systematically reflect and produce group-based inequities in any society" based on gender or sex (Henry 2010, p. 427). Institutional gender discrimination is a global problem, inhibiting women's property rights, civil liberties, economic opportunities, and physical integrity. Gender discrimination is associated with poor performance on development indicators ranging from education to children's nutrition (OECD 2012a). This paper examines the relationship between electoral gender quotas and measures of institutional gender equity in developing countries.Electoral gender quotas have been established worldwide as a tool to mitigate gender discrimination and inequality in the institutions of government and law-making bodies. Several studies (Chattopadhyay and Deflo 2004, Chen 2010) have found a statistically significant positive relationship between electoral gender quotas and government social programs and building projects that reflect women's interests. While most of the literature has examined the relationship between gender quotas and government spending on social welfare programs or infrastructure, this study explores specifically the relationship between gender quotas and the prevalence of inequality and discrimination.Using an Ordinary Least Squares model, this study tested whether there was a statistically significant negative relationship between the existence of an electoral gender quota in a particular country and a high prevalence of gender inequality in five different types of social institutions: family code, civil liberties, physical integrity, son bias, and access to resources. This study showed little evidence for this hypothesis. There was no statistically significant relationship between electoral gender quotas and inequality in family code, son bias, and access to resources. There was, however, a small positive relationship between gender quotas and gender inequality related to physical integrity. The relatively recent introduction of electoral gender quotas in many countries, and the percentage of gender quotas that were enacted after conflict and during political transitions may have an impact on the ability for electoral gender quotas to mitigate gender inequality in many of the countries that have adopted this electoral mechanism.
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