Political Social Networks and Women's Political Representation

Michael J. Callen, Stefano Fiorin, and Rohini Pande

This project has been retired

Small Research Grant

Women are globally underrepresented in politics. As developing countries consider policies that can aid growth and structural transformation, the lack of female political representation can cause women’s preferences and needs to go unfulfilled. In 2017, Nepal introduced political quotas at local elections that required 40% of local politicians to be women, yet few women were elected to top leadership positions as mayors or ward chairs. Since these top leadership positions play a large role in shaping policies, women’s input is still limited. This project seeks to understand how providing more information about female candidates can increase the number of women elected as mayors and ward chairs.

To evaluate the impacts of increased information, a large randomised controlled trial is conducted where a sample of ward members received different levels of information on elections, the chances of winning, voting results of previous elections, and quotas required within the local government. The research team then compiles information from electoral data and surveys to determine the impact of the experiment on the number of female nominees, candidates and changes in elected officials. In the second part of the project, the team looks at data on policy outcomes to analyse the longer-term impacts of this experiment and of electing more women to political leadership rolls.

This research has direct policy relevance to Nepal, but information gained from this study can also be applied to other countries. Low levels of women in government leadership roles are a common issue across the globe. By better understanding how information about elections and quotas impact the government and policies in Nepal, policymakers can make informed decisions about how to best encourage female participation in politics. Furthermore, this study provides unique insight into how elected female officials enact change and select policies to implement. This can provide valuable motivation for policymakers who are looking to foster economic growth in their own countries and want to consider inclusive policies and gender equality within the systems that are in place.

Research Team

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