Persistent Inequalities: A Comparative View of Indian and South African Experiences of Local Government Quotas for Women
Politikon , Volume 41 - Issue 1 p. 85- 102
Debates about the nature and impact of quotas tend to focus on national parliaments, and for the most part tend to debate theoretical assumptions within the disciplines of political science and political philosophy. This article suggests that there is much to be gained in understanding how quotas work by a lateral examination of literature in development studies, and by comparative work on countries that are in the postcolonial global south. Drawing on a comparison between local government quotas in India and South Africa, the article argues that the persistent underlying institutional formations and cultures of politics have a profound impact on the ways in which quotas are inserted into political systems. Applying a feminist lens to literature on women's experiences of entering local government institutions in India and South Africa, the article considers the relationship between women's representation and the broader political system in which they are inserted. The article argues that the presence of women may have democratizing effects on political systems, but that these effects depend as much if not more on the extent to which there is democratic mobilization outside of the elected bodies.