Today the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) at Vanderbilt University honored Leslie Schwindt-Bayer with its Best Paper Award for her work, “Gender Quotas and Women’s Political Participation in Latin America.” Dr. Schwindt-Bayer is an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri. Her paper explores whether legislative quotas for women affect levels of political engagement among citizens, particularly women.
This is the inaugural year of the Best Paper Award, which acknowledges outstanding work by a recipient of a 2011 Small Grant or Data Award. The Small Grants and Data competition provided funding for researchers studying discrimination, marginalization, political opinion, and democracy, and whose work would draw on AmericasBarometer and/or LAPOP data. In announcing the award, the selection committee said it was “impressed by this paper’s strong theoretical framework…and sophisticated cross-national analysis.”
In her paper Dr. Schwindt-Bayer takes the position that gender quotas represent a more inclusive, legitimate political system and can mobilize women, theoretically increasing their political participation and reducing gender gaps in this area. She concludes, however, that though gender quotas have expanded representation at the national level, they have had little effect on the masses with regard to political interest and other forms of participation.
Dr. Schwindt-Bayer will present her research and formally receive the Best Paper Award on October 27 at the conference, “Marginalization in the Americas: A Perspective from the AmericasBarometer,” which will take place at the University of Miami.
The bill introduced on Thursday by the Liberal Party and backed by the opposition, including the Polo Patriótico party, would fund up to 40 percent of campaign expenses for parties that include more women on their political lists. Five percent of those funds would be distributed according to the exact number of women elected.
The first debate over this bill and the newly introduced law on political reform has placed both the Liberal Party and opposition in agreement that the existing Law on Quotas is insufficient. It provides increased funding if a party puts forward a list with more than 30 percent female candidates, but only 10 percent of women actually participate.
But opposition to the bill exists. For example, Senators Armando Benedetti (La U) and Luis Fernando Velasco (Liberal Party) argue that the percentage of women should not be raised beyond the current levels.
If passed, this would be the first step toward a potential constitutional reform that would introduce a 50 percent female requirement for the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, a considerable advancement for female legislative representation in the Americas.