Publication Date

4-15-2011

Advisor(s)

Michael Touchton

Major

Government

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This thesis investigates whether legal gender quota laws influence women's empowerment in Latin American legislatures. This project represents the first systematic examination of whether legal gender quotas exhibit an independent and direct effect on women's legislative power. Previous studies described how quotas increase the presence of women in the legislature and subsequently how electing more women to office increases women's legislative power. This study separates the two often-confounded variables of legal gender quotas and high levels of female representation through a most-similar systems case study design. I examine whether legal gender quotas or high levels of female representation impact women's legislative empowerment in Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Nicaragua. I find legal gender quotas have the potential to benefit women beyond the point of election, enhancing their access to leadership roles in national legislative bodies.

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