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Representation from below: How women’s grassroots party activism promotes equal political participation

Two women in their thirties sitting opposite each other talking at a white, round table
Tanushree Goyal, American Political Science Review, 9 October 2023

The findings of this article challenge several widely held beliefs. They dispel the notion that women politicians must alter attitudes and perceptions to make progress in politics… Instead, women have taken a step forward by transforming political party institutions from the grassroots and leveraging women’s unrealized political agency.

– Tanushree Goyal

The findings of this 2023 study highlight the pivotal role of women politicians in mobilising women’s political participation – through recruiting women as grassroots party activists.

  • Evidence from a citizen survey and the natural experiment of gender quotas in India confirm that women politicians are more likely to recruit women party activists, and citizens report greater contact with them in reserved constituencies during elections.
  • With women party activists at the helm, electoral campaigns are more likely to contact women, and activist contact is positively associated with political knowledge and participation.
  • Evidence from representative surveys of politicians and party activists and fieldwork in campaigns, further support the theory.

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