1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Book: Governing Women: Women's Political Effectiveness in Contexts of Democratization and Governance Reform

27 Apr 2009

Despite many obstacles women face in prevailing social and economic systems as well as existing political structures throughout the world, women are running for public office in growing numbers. As of 2008, they have reached an average of 18.4 per cent of seats in national assemblies, exceeding 30 per cent in 22 countries. Certainly, there is an upward trend in women's representation from which we may expect big changes in the quality of governance including the striking outliers – Rwanda with 49% of its assembly female, Argentina with 35%, and Liberia and Chile with new women presidents in 2006. In terms of shaping public policy-making and democratizing power relations, the growing women’s participation in public office is encouraging. But getting into public office is just the first step in the challenge of creating governance and accountability systems that respond to women's needs and protect their rights.

Using a wide variety of regional and country case studies from around the world (South Asia, East-Central Europe, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa; Algeria, China, Egypt, Jordan, South Africa and Uganda), the essays in this volume, edited by Anne Marie Goetz, consider the conditions for effective connections between women in civil society and women in politics, for the evolution of political party platforms responsive to women's interests, for local government arrangements that enable women to engage effectively, and for accountability mechanisms that answer to women. The book's argument is that good governance from a gender perspective requires more than women in politics. It requires fundamental incentive changes to orient public action and policy to support gender equality.

Notes to editors
  • The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) was created in 1963 and is an autonomous UN agency engaging in multidisciplinary research on the social dimensions of contemporary problems affecting development. Through its research, UNRISD stimulates dialogue and contributes to policy debates on key issues of social development within and outside the UN system.
  • As a political scientist and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, Anne Marie Goetz has focused her work on the politics of pro-poor, gender equitable development. Her theoretical work relates to debates on accountability and good governance, and her empirical research has involved studies of poor people’s anti-corruption initiatives, and the challenges of long-term institutional change and capacity-building in developing country service bureaucracies. She has conducted research in India, Bangladesh, Uganda, and South Africa.

Governing Women: Will New Public Space for Some Women Make a Difference for All Women?; A.M. Goetz
Crossing the Lines: Women's Social Mobilization in Latin America; V.M. Bouvier
Consequences of Political Liberalization and Sociocultural Mobilization for Women in Algeria, Egypt and Jordan; M. Lazreg
Transnational Feminism and Women's Human Rights: Successes and Challenges of a Political Strategy; B.A. Ackerly and B. D'Costa
Women, Political Parties and Social Movements in South Asia; A. Basu
Women and Political Engagement in East-Central Europe; E. Fodor
From Political Sidecars to Legislatures: Women and Party Politics in Southern Africa; O.D. Selolwane
Political Parties and Gender in Latin America: An Overview of Conditions and Responsiveness; T. Sacchet
Decentralizing Government and De-centering Gender: Lessons from Local Government Reform in South Africa; J. Beall
Women in Local Government in India, J. Everett
Who Speaks for Whom?: Women and the Politics of Presence in Uganda's Local Governance; J. Ahikire
Governing Women or Enabling Women to Govern: Gender and the Good Governance Agenda; A.M. Goetz
Public Administration Reform and Women in Decision Making in China; J. Du
Ruling Out Gender Equality?: The Post-Cold War Rule of Law Agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa; C.N. Musembi

Governing Women is copublished with Routledge, in the series Routledge/UNRISD Research in Gender and Development; hardback; ISBN: 978-0-415-95652-9; 318 pages; 2008; USD 95.00.
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