Gender Quotas in North African Parliaments:
Pathways to Empowerment, Accountability, and Political Participation?
May 20-22, 2009
Department of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University
In the past decade, gender quotas for national parliaments have been constitutionally mandated or adopted voluntarily by one or more political parties in Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The scope of quotas differs considerably, however, ranging from actions by two Algerian parties to place greater numbers of women on electoral lists, to the establishment in 2002 and 2007 of an agreement between Moroccan parties to reserve thirty seats for women.
Variation in the type of quotas and the institutional context in which they are implemented helps to explain why the proportion of women in the houses of representatives ranges from 7.2 to 22.8 percent in the four North African cases. Beyond these associations, however, the origins and outcomes of gender quotas in North Africa are not yet well explored or integrated into a cumulative and comparative research agenda on gender and politics in Europe, Africa, Asia, and beyond. Some questions which warrant further study include: Why do countries vary in the type of quotas adopted? What are the effects of quotas on women’s empowerment and on accountability and political participation under authoritarianism? What are the effect of quotas on political attitudes and behaviors of constituents?
The Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University will hold a workshop May 21-22, 2009 to address questions related to gender quotas in North African parliaments and, more broadly, to concerns at the intersection of gender and politics in the greater Middle East. The goal of the workshop is to strengthen networks between scholars and policy practitioners and to offer an opportunity to prepare papers for publication, including the possibility of an edited volume or special edition of a journal arising from the conference.
Accordingly, proposals are invited for papers which address theoretical or empirical aspects of quotas and are analytical in nature. Papers may be comparative within or beyond the region and address:
-Critiques or defenses of quotas from Islamic, western, or other feminist perspectives, including assessments of the appropriateness of applying theoretical paradigms across regions
-Explanations for the establishment of quotas of different types in the North African cases
-Explanations of popular or elite attitudes toward quotas in the Maghreb
-Assessments of the effects of quotas on the behaviors of voters (e.g. voter turnout, voter choice, etc.)
-Analyses of differences in the leadership styles, political strategies, or other behaviors of female and male members of parliament
-Assessments of the effects of quotas on women’s empowerment
-Assessments of the contributions of female candidates to parliamentary debate on substantive issues and of the effects of quotas on broader questions of representation and accountability
Tentative Conference Schedule
The conference will begin with a keynote address at 6 pm on Wednesday, May 20, 2009. Individual paper presentations (approx. 15 minutes per paper) will take place on May 21 and an optional outreach event for New Jersey teachers will be held on May 22. Honoraria and travel support are available for papers invited for both the Thursday and Friday portions of the conference.
Timeline for Paper Submission
Please submit paper abstracts to Lindsay Benstead (firstname.lastname@example.org) by January 30, 2009. Proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee and authors notified of the committee’s decision by February 15, 2009. Papers accepted for presentation should be submitted the Lindsay Benstead by May 10, 2009 for pre-circulation to workshop participants.
Department of Near Eastern Studies
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