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International Politics and the Spread of Quotas for Women in Legislatures

  • Sarah Sunn Bush (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 February 2011

Quotas to promote women's representation in the world's legislatures have spread to more than one hundred countries. The diffusion of gender quotas poses a puzzle since they have often been adopted in countries where women have low status. International influence and inducements best explain quota adoption in developing countries. Promoting gender equality, including through gender quotas, has become a key part of international democracy promotion. The international legitimacy of gender quotas leads them to be adopted through two causal pathways: directly, through postconflict peace operations, and indirectly, by encouraging countries, especially those that depend on foreign aid, to signal their commitment to democracy by adopting quotas. An event history analysis, which controls for other relevant factors, shows that the hypothesized relationships exist. Further support comes from a process-tracing analysis of Afghanistan's 2004 quota.

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International Organization
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