Have women’s policy agencies, gender quotas and gender mainstreaming made a difference? And if so, what sort of impact have they had? Although the literature on the emergence of these strategies acknowledges the role of the strategic interests of political elites as well as women’s political mobilization to be central, all three measures are generally judged, in the political science literature at least, in relation to the normative aims of the women’s movement rather than in relation to the strategic interests of political elites. Most of the relevant scholarship starts from the premise that they are essentially a means to greater democratic justice (Towns 2003:2). Accordingly, the most commonly adopted criteria of evaluation for women’s policy agencies and gender quotas focus on democratic participation and gender equality, seeking to determine whether the mechanisms increase women’s participation in and access to political decision-making (descriptive representation), and/or transform the policy agenda such that it better represents women and promotes gender equality (substantive representation).
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- Making a Difference? Evaluating Impact
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