This panel will explore the challenges of opening up politics to women and whether, how, and under what conditions this translates into development outcomes that benefit women. It will investigate the inclusion of women in a variety of political spaces (such as parliaments) and at different levels.
The development community has long promoted the political inclusion of women as a moral good. Women make up half the population, so equity suggests they ought to occupy the same proportion of positions in the political world. Increasingly, the political inclusion of women is advocated as an instrumental good. Opening up positions of political power to women will - we are told - lead to development policies that are more effective and better implemented. Yet research has tended to focus on the impact of strategies designed to increase the political inclusion of women - such as gender-based quotas introduced to increase the number of women in parliaments - and the factors that influence their adoption. Far less research examines what impact women have once they occupy positions of political power. This panel will present research that helps to fill this gap, show-casing papers that examine the developmental impact of opening up politics to women. The panel invites papers that explore issues such as: (i) the extent and nature of women's political inclusion on government policies, legislation and/or spending, either with respect to development broadly or with regards to a particular sector (e.g. health or education); (ii) the mechanisms through which women's political inclusion is translated into impact; and (iii) the contextual factors that enable (or prevent) this from happening. Papers may investigate the inclusion of women in a variety of political spaces - such as parliaments, political parties, civil society and social movements - as well as at different levels: national, sub-national and international.