My research essay for a Master of Arts in political science from Carleton University in 2004:


By means of controlled, contextual comparison, this research essay considers women’s representation in six countries with a quota system of some kind: Argentina, France, India, Norway, Poland and Uganda. This analysis suggests that interactions between political actors and political structures, or political opportunity structure, is the most important factor in determining women’s access to democratically elected bodies. Political parties and women’s movements are the most important actors in this process. Certain features of the legislative recruitment process, such as a proportional representation electoral system, facilitate the attempts of women’s movements to pressure the political system into opening a space for them, while others impede women’s opportunities. The analysis also suggests that the strategies adopted by women’s movements are shaped by the opportunities presented to them by their political and institutional context. The electoral success of women and the pursuit of electoral projects as a strategy to increase women’s political citizenship must therefore be understood contextually.

When Women Want In