It gave me pleasure to read today this post by Nancy Folbre on the NYTimes: Women and Democracy in India. I’m inspired for Indian women and also disappointed that American women have advanced so little in politics, because of our system and the tendency of American women to prefer men in public office.
Like many other countries on multiple continents, India’s political system mandates quotas for women in elective office. Folbre’s focucs in on India’s system of reserving about one-third of village council seats for women. After every third election, all candidates for head of council must be women.
In spite of the occasional woman who serves at her husband’s bidding, studies confirm that the women are not only highly involved in governing their states, but they progress onwards to success in elections not governed by gender quotas.
Folbre stresses that the Indian elections system is hardly perfection for women but it provides heartening evidence of the ways institutional design can foster the slow progress of small things.