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October 27th RIPS: Intersections of Exclusion: The Institutional Dynamics of Combined Gender and Ethnic Quota Systems

Despite growing interest in the politics of intersectionality, applications in the domain of electoral reform and political representation have been slow, both in scholarship and on the ground.

Oct 27, 2015

This talk presents a new avenue of inquiry into this issue. Focusing on 17 countries that employ quotas/reservations for both women and ethnic minorities in elections to national parliament. I show that there are rarely representational gains for those located at the intersection of the two quota mechanisms. This is because quotas for women and minorities are rarely "nested." Rather they tend to operate independently, often through entirely separate contests to fill the parlimentary seats allotted to each group. Beyond developing a clearer specification of the rules and mechanical effects of electroal quota systems, I apply a feminist institutional (FI) framework to gain greater insight into the informal dynamics that contribute to minority women's persistent under-representation in a variety of contexts. Finally I sketch an agenda for transformative action and institutional reform to advance the political inclusion of ethnic minority women.