Does Women’s Proportional Strength Affect Their Participation?


Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 2:30pm to 3:45pm


124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

Bina AgarwalGoverning Local Forests in South Asia
Bina Agarwal, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University, India

This event is co-sponsored by the Women in Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School

About the Seminar
Gender and politics literature has long debated how women's proportional strength affects policy formulation within legislatures. Studies on gender and environmental governance have focused mainly on women’s limited participation in local institutions. Both bodies of work leave important aspects unexplored. The former neglects the in-between process – the impact of women’s numbers on their effective participation – such as attending and speaking up at meetings and holding office. The latter neglects to ask what impact would increasing women’s proportions have on participation and what proportions are effective. Rigorous empirical analysis is also scarce. Addressing these gaps, this seminar, based on primary data for community forestry institutions in India and Nepal, statistically tests if a group’s gender composition affects women’s effective participation, and if there are any critical mass effects. The results support the popularly emphasized proportions of one-quarter to one-third, but show that women’s economic class also matters, as do some factors other than women’s numbers.

About Bina Agarwal
Bina Agarwal is director and professor at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University. She has held distinguished positions at many universities in the US and U.K. and lectured world-wide. She was Harvard’s first Daniel Ingalls Visiting Professor and a research fellow at the Ash Center. She has also been vice president of the International Economic Association, was elected the first Southern president of the International Association for Feminist Economics, served on the Board of the Global Development Network from its inception until 2006, and is a founder member of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics. Currently she serves on the UN Committee for Development Policy and the Prime Minister’s National Council for Land Reforms.

Democracy Seminar Series
The Democracy Seminar Series brings distinguished speakers to Harvard Kennedy School for the academic year to address critical challenges facing democratic governance.