Critical leaders: how women on parliamentary committees influence the health sector in Africa
Susan Dodsworth (University of Birmingham)
Nic Cheeseman (University of Birmingham)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on evidence from Africa, this paper examines whether, and how, women on parliamentary committees are able to act as 'critical leaders,' shaping decisions on health spending, heath policies and legislative initiatives in the health sector.
Paper long abstract:
A large body of literature examines the factors that influence the adoption, design and impact of gender quotas, which are designed to increase the inclusion of women in parliaments. Far less research examines what those women do within parliaments, and the extent to which their inclusion in parliament translates to impact on the political decisions that affect women. This paper helps to fill that gap by examining how the political inclusion of women can reduce inequality in the health sector, and identifying the circumstances under which this is most likely to occur. It explores these issues in the particular context of Africa. It seeks to answer three core questions: (i) How does the inclusion of women in parliamentary committees vary between countries and over time in Africa? (ii) What is the impact of including women in parliamentary committees, as both members and leaders, on the health sector? (iii) What contextual factors facilitate the success of women as 'critical leaders' within parliamentary committees? These questions are answered using a combination of methods. A new dataset (covering an initial sample of 13 African countries) provides insight into the inclusion of women in parliamentary committees, both numerically and in leadership roles. A series of three qualitative, comparative case studies sheds light on whether, and how, women on parliamentary committees are able to act as 'critical leaders,' shaping decisions on health spending, heath policies and legislative initiatives in the health sector
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