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Women Politicians, Gender Bias, and Policy-making in Rural India

Lori Beaman, Esther Duflo, Rohini Pande, & Petia Topalova

Relative to their population share, women are underrepresented in political leadership positions throughout the world. This paper uses data on the practice of mandated political representation for women in village governments in India to examine the implications of increased female representation for policy activism and children’s well-being. It also examines how such representation affects political participation by women and the extent of gender discrimination. Findings suggest that politically empowering women may have important benefits for children, and that the long term benefits from mandated political representation for women may depend significantly on the extent of gender bias.