Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 June 2009
This article partly confirms the long-held view that multiculturalism discriminates against women. Indeed, for a majority of cases where multicultural electoral practices were recently recognized in our Oaxaca, Mexico survey sample, women did not participate in elections. However, female respondent participation in leader selection in multicultural communities was actually found to be higher in the few communities where locally established multicultural norms allowed women to serve in leadership roles. We find that while multicultural norms are often—or even usually—discriminatory, ascription to communal norms may actually encourage the participation of women in the few cases where these locally generated norms do not disenfranchise them. We conclude that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, multiculturalism that adheres to universal suffrage and human rights may not be normatively adverse to women's rights, and we argue for “conditional multiculturalism,” that is, recognition of multicultural norms but only if and when these adhere to broadly accepted human rights norms.