Women’s political participation is important not only on normative grounds of inclusion, but because past research shows that when women do participate, politics often changes. Yet we know little about how to increase women’s political participation and electoral representation as well as about the link between women’s path to participation/representation and their policy priorities thereafter. This leaves us asking: Having been excluded from traditional political networks, how do women organize politically and what does this mean for the execution and performance of local politics and economic development? This paper studies the consequences of the way that women reach political office by looking at the intersection of women’s political participation and electoral representation in shaping local politics and service delivery. Specifically, I focus on local governments in the India state of Madhya Pradesh, leveraging two natural experiments: the first creating arbitrary variation in women’s representation via gender reservations and the second creating induced variation in women’s political participation via the arbitrary allocation of a female-targeted welfare scheme. This comparison elucidates the relationship between female political engagement, both as citizens and representatives, and local governance and development.
The colloquia are organised by the Centre for Experimental Social Sciences.