QUALREP: The Quality of Women's Political Representation

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: The Policy Institute


Achieving women's equal political participation and representation is formally recognised as a key global priority by the international community, yet there is enhanced recognition that representative democracy has failed to deliver political equality for all women. Descriptively under-represented in the world's democracies, women, especially minoritised and marginalised women, experience something far short of 'good' representation. These are moreover 'troubled times': we face potentially devastating natural and human-made crises (climate change, global pandemics, and economic inequality and insecurity). The rise of populism not only contests the value of representative democracy to respond to these but does so frequently by deploying anti-feminist and antigender claims that threaten women's rights and undermine gender equality. Evidence outlining how and when women in their diversity are well represented in politics is needed to sustain the necessary political will on behalf of domestic and global actors to counter anti-democratic and anti-gender equality ideas and practices; and to enable political and civil society actors to build genuine relationships between women and democratic politics, whereby women's political equality is fully realised. QUALREP redresses this need by conducting a theoretically rich, comparative empirical analysis of the quality of women's political representation, attentive to their intersectional and ideological diversity and with particular concern to the most marginalised women, across five European nations: Belgium; Britain; Poland; Portugal and Sweden. In so doing, it develops a conceptual framework and methodology applicable in the future to global research across diverse democracies that can help establish the features of, and conditions for, high quality women's political representation providing an essential evidence base for advocacy and policy making that advances gender equality in politics and beyond.


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