The Effects of Political Reservations for Women on Local Governance and Rural Service Provision
In 1993, India introduced quota-based political reservations for women in rural areas with the objective to promote gender equality in human development by making rural service provision and local governance inclusive and responsive to the needs of women. Recent evidence shows that reservation policies for women (1) stimulate the political participation of women in rural areas, (2) shift rural service provision to public goods that reflect gender preferences, and (3) improve the access to and the quality of public services. Despite the suggested positive effects of women’s reservation policies on service provision and local governance, the gender bias in human development is still pronounced. This casts doubt on the effectiveness of reservation policies as an instrument for making rural service provision and local governance more gender equitable and raises questions about the nature and direction of the major constraints.
This paper aims to qualify and quantify the role of political reservation policies for women as a determinant of rural service provision and local governance and seeks to identify the social, economic, and institutional factors that constrain effective local governance and rural service provision beyond the women’s reservation effect.