Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Quotas and Women's Substantive Representation: Evidence from a Content Analysis of Ugandan Plenary Debates

  • Amanda Clayton (a1), Cecilia Josefsson (a2) and Vibeke Wang (a3)

Despite the popularity of electoral gender quotas, the substantive impact of quotas on the plenary behavior of members of parliament (MPs) has yet to be thoroughly empirically explored, and in particular, there is a dearth of evidence from non-Western cases. Here we create a unique content analysis dataset from 14 years (1998–2011) of plenary debates, including the contents of more than 150,000 unique MP speeches recorded in some 40,000 pages of the Ugandan parliamentary Hansard to test how MP characteristics affect patterns of gender-related legislative speech. We find that female MPs speak about issues related to women's interests significantly more than male MPs. Further, we find no evidence of significant differences between female MPs elected with and without quotas, suggesting that, in the Ugandan case, gender is a more salient predictor of the tendency to “speak for women” than electoral pathway. To our knowledge, this is the first study that examines the effectiveness of quotas in promoting women's substantive representation in parliamentary debates across all policy domains over a significant time period. We discuss the implications of these findings in the Ugandan context, as well as how our evidence speaks to substantive representation through reserved seat quotas in semi-authoritarian regimes more broadly.

Hide All
BäckHanna, Debus Marc, and Müller Jochen. 2014. “Who Takes the Parliamentary Floor? The Role of Gender in Speech-Making in the Swedish Riksdag.” Political Research Quarterly 67 (3): 504–18.
BauerGretchen. 2008. “Uganda: Reserved Seats for Women MPs: Affirmative Action for the National Women's Movement or the National Resistance Movement?” In Women and Legislative Representation: Electoral Systems, Political Parties, and Sex Quotas, ed. Tremblay Manon. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2739.
BauerGretchen, and Burnet Jennie E.. 2013. “Gender Quotas, Democracy, and Women's Representation in Africa: Some Insights from Democratic Botswana and Autocratic Rwanda.” Women's Studies International Forum 41 (2): 103–12.
BrattonKathleen A. 2005. “Critical Mass Theory Revisited: The Behavior and Success of Token Women in State Legislatures.” Politics & Gender 1 (1): 97125.
BrattonKathleen, and Ray Leonard. 2002. “Descriptive Representation, Policy Outcomes, and Municipal Day-Care Coverage in Norway.” American Journal of Political Science 46 (2): 428–37.
BushSarah S. 2011. “International Politics and the Spread of Quotas for Women in Legislatures.” International Organization 65 (1): 103–37.
CelisKaren. 2006. “Substantive Representation of Women: The Representation of Women's Interests and the Impact of Descriptive representation in the Belgian Parliament (1900–1979).” Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 28 (2): 85114.
CelisKaren, Childs Sarah, Kantola Johanna, and Krook Mona Lena. 2008. “Rethinking Women's Substantive Representation.” Representation 44 (2): 99110.
CelisKaren, Childs Sarah, Kantola Johanna, and Krook Mona Lena. 2014. “Constituting Women's Interests through Representative Claims.” Politics & Gender 10 (2): 149–74.
ChattopadhyayRaghabendra, and Duflo Esther. 2004. “Women as Policy Makers: Evidence From a Randomized Policy Experiment in India.” Econometrica 72 (5): 1409–43.
ChildsSarah. 2004. New Labour's Women MPs: Women Representing Women. London: Routledge.
ChildsSarah, and Krook Mona Lena. 2009. “Analyzing Women's Substantive Representation: From Critical Mass to Critical Actors.” Government and Opposition 44 (2): 125–45.
ChildsSarah, and Krook Mona Lena. 2012. “Labels and Mandates in the United Kingdom.” In The Impact of Gender Quotas, eds. Franceschet Susan, Krook Mona Lena, and Piscopo Jennifer M.. New York: Oxford University Press, 89102.
ClaytonAmanda. 2015. “Women's Political Engagement under Quota-Mandated Female Representation: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment.” Comparative Political Studies 48 (3): 333–69.
ClaytonAmanda, Josefsson Cecilia, and Wang Vibeke. 2014. “Present without Presence? A Gendered Analysis of MP Debate Recognition in the Ugandan Parliament.” Representation 50 (3): 379–92.
DahlerupDrude, ed. 2006. Women, Quotas and Politics. London: Routledge.
DevlinClaire, and Elgie Robert. 2008. “The Effect of Increased Women's Participation in Parliament: The Case of Rwanda.” Parliamentary Affairs 61 (2): 237–54.
DodsonDebra L. 2006. The Impact of Women in Congress. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
EggersAndrew C., and Spirling Arthur. 2014. “Ministerial Responsiveness in Westminster Systems: Institutional Choices and House of Commons Debate, 1832–1915.” American Journal of Political Science 58 (4): 873–87.
EsaiassonPeter. 2000. “How Members of Parliament Define Their Task.” In Beyond Westminster and Congress: The Nordic Experience, eds. Esaiasson Peter and Heidar Knut. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 5182.
FranceschetSusan. 2011. “Gendered Institutions and Women's Substantive Representation: Female Legislators in Argentina and Chile.” In Gender, Politics, and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism, eds. Krook Mona Lena and Mackay Fiona. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 5878.
FranceschetSusan, and Piscopo Jennifer M.. 2008. “Gender Quotas and Women's Substantive Representation: Lessons from Argentina.” Politics & Gender 4 (3): 393425.
GoetzAnne Marie. 2003. “The Problem with Patronage: Constraints on Women's Political Effectiveness in Uganda.” In No Shortcuts to Power: African Women in Politics and Policy, eds. Goetz Anne Marie and Hassim Shireen. London: Zed Books, 110–39.
GoetzAnne Marie, and Hassim Shireen, eds. 2003. No Shortcuts to Power: African Women in Politics and Policy Making. London: Zed Books.
GreenElliot. 2010. “Patronage, District Creation, and Reform in Uganda.” Studies in Comparative International Development 45 (1): 83103.
HanssenKari N. 2005. “Towards Multiparty System in Uganda: The Effect on Female Representation in Politics.” Working Paper 9, Chr. Michelson Institute. (accessed June 16, 2016).
HumphreysMacartan, and Weinstein Jeremy M.. 2012. “Policing Politicians: Citizen Empowerment and Political Accountability in Uganda—Preliminary Analysis.” Working Paper, International Growth Centre. (accessed June 16, 2016).
JohnsonNiki, and Josefsson Cecilia. 2016. “A New Way of Doing Politics? Cross-Party Women's Caucuses as Critical Actors in Uganda and Uruguay.” Parliamentary Affairs. doi:10.1093/pa/gsw011
JosefssonCecilia. 2014. “Who Benefits from Gender Quotas? Assessing the Impact of Election Procedure Reform on Members of Parliament's Attributes in Uganda.” International Political Science Review 35 (1): 93105.
KrookMona Lena. 2009. Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Reform Worldwide. New York: Oxford University Press.
LongmanTimothy. 2006. “Rwanda: Achieving Equality or Serving an Authoritarian State?” In Women in African Parliaments, eds. Bauer Gretchen and Britton Hannah E.. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 133–50.
LucasChristopher, Nielsen Richard A., Roberts Margaret E., Stewart Brandon M., Storer Alex, and Tingley Dustin. 2015. “Computer-Assisted Text Analysis for Comparative Politics.” Political Analysis 23 (2): 254–77.
MackayFiona. 2008. “‘Thick’ Conceptions of Substantive Representation: Women, Gender and Political institutions.” Representation 44 (2): 125–39.
MansbridgeJane. 1999. “Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent ‘Yes.’Journal of Politics 61 (3): 628–57.
MeenaRuth. 2004. “The Politics of Quotas in Tanzania.” Presented at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance/Electoral Institute of Southern Africa/Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum Conference, Pretoria, South Africa. (accessed June 16, 2016).
MuriaasRagnhild, and Wang Vibeke. 2012. “Executive Dominance and the Politics of Quota Representation in Uganda.” Journal of Modern African Studies 50 (2): 309–38.
O'BrienDiana Z. 2012. “Quotas and Qualifications in Uganda.” In The Impact of Gender Quotas, eds. Franceschet Susan, Krook Mona Lena, and Piscopo Jennifer M.. New York: Oxford University Press, 5771.
OsbornTracy, and Mendez Jeanette M.. 2010. “Speaking as Women: Women and Floor Speeches in the Senate.” Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 31 (1): 121.
PandayP. K. 2008. “Representation without Participation: Quotas for Women in Bangladesh.” International Political Science Review 29 (4): 489512.
PearsonKathryn, and Dancey Logan. 2011. “Speaking for the Underrepresented in the House of Representatives: Voicing Women's Interests in a Partisan Era.” Politics & Gender 7 (4): 493519.
PhillipsAnne. 1995. The Politics of Presence. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
PiscopoJennifer M. 2011. “Rethinking Descriptive Representation: Rendering Women in Legislative Debates.” Parliamentary Affairs 64 (3): 448–72.
PitkinHannah Fenichel. 1967. The Concept of Representation. Berkeley: University of California Press.
ReingoldBeth. 2000. Representing Women: Sex, Gender and Legislative Behavior in Arizona and California. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
SkjeieHege. 1991. “The Rhetoric of Difference: On Women's Inclusion into Political Elites.” Politics & Society 19 (2): 233–63.
TamaleSylvia. 1999. When Hens Begin to Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
TameriusKaren L. 1995. “Sex, Gender, and Leadership in the Representation of Women.” In Gender Power, Leadership, and Governance, eds. Duerst-Lahti Georgia and Mae Kelly Rita. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 93112.
Taylor-RobinsonMichelle M., and Heath Roseanna Michelle. 2003. “Do Women Legislators Have Different Policy Priorities than Their Male Colleagues? A Critical Case Test.” Women & Politics 24 (4): 77101.
ThomasSue. 1994. How Women Legislate. New York: Oxford University Press.
TownsAnn. 2003. “Understanding the Effects of Larger Ratios of Women in National Legislatures: Proportions and Gender Differentiation in Sweden and Norway.” Women & Politics 25 (1/2): 129.
TremblayManon. 1998. “Do Female MPs Substantively Represent Women? A Study of Legislative Behaviour in Canada's 35th Parliament.” Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique 31 (3): 435–65.
TrippAili Mari. 2000. Women and Politics in Uganda. Oxford: James Currey.
TrippAili Mari. 2006. “Uganda: Agents of Change for Women's Advancement?” In Women in African Parliaments, eds. Britton Hannah and Bauer Gretchen. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 111–32.
TrippAili Mari. 2010. Museveni's Uganda: Paradoxes of Power in a Hybrid Regime. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
TrippAili Mari, and Kang Alice. 2008. “The Global Impact of Quotas on the Fast Track to Increased Female Legislative Representation.” Comparative Political Studies 41 (3): 338–61.
WalshDenise. 2012. “Party Centralization and Debate Conditions in South Africa.” In The Impact of Gender Quotas, eds. Krook Mona Lena, Franceschet Susan, and Piscopo Jennifer. New York: Oxford University Press, 119–35.
WangVibeke. 2013a. “Operating in the Shadow of the Executive: Women's Substantive Representation in the Uganda Parliament.” PhD diss., University of Bergen.
WangVibeke. 2013b. “Women Changing Policy Outcomes: Learning from Pro-Women Legislation in the Ugandan Parliament.” Women's Studies International Forum 41, pt. 2: 113–21.
WangVibeke. 2014. “Tracing Gender Differences in Parliamentary Debates: A Growth Curve Analysis of Ugandan MPs’ Activity Levels in Plenary Sessions, 1998–2008.” Representation 50 (3): 365–77.
WolbrechtChristina. 2002. “Female Legislators and the Women's Rights Agenda.” In Women Transforming Congress, ed. Rosenthal C. S.. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 170–94.
XydiasChristina V. 2014. “Women's Rights in Germany: Generations and Gender Quotas.” Politics & Gender 10 (1): 432.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Clayton supplementary material
Tables Appendix A1 and A2

 PDF (61 KB)
61 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 15
Total number of PDF views: 115 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 492 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.