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Do reforms that decentralize the state actually empower women?

Empowered by Design

Decentralization and the Gender Policy Trifecta

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Meg Rincker

"Empowered by Design is an important book; a must read for scholars and practitioners alike. Meg Rincker addresses masterfully a central question for the study of politics: does decentralization promote more democracy through women's representation and empowerment? She conducts an empirically rich and innovative comparative mixed method study that will make lasting contributions to many different areas of scholarship. The outstanding empirical case analyses on Poland, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom represent the first systematic cross-national study of gender and decentralization."
Amy G. Mazur, C.O. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Washington State University

In her probing book, Empowered by Design, Meg Rincker asks, Under what conditions will decentralization lead to women's empowerment in countries around the globe? Using three case studies—the United Kingdom, Poland, and Pakistan—she shows how decentralization reforms create new institutional offices as power shifts from the national level to a meso-tier level, which is located between the national government and local municipalities. These shifts impact a country's political, administrative, and fiscal reforms as well as women's representation.

Rincker argues that this shift should be inclusive of women—or at least lead more women to participate in institutions—but this is not always the case. She indicates that three conditions, "the gender policy trifecta," need to be met to achieve this: legislative gender quotas, women's policy agencies, and gender-responsive budgeting at the level of governance in question. Rincker's innovative research uses original comparative data about what women want, quantitative cross-national analyses, and interviews with women's organization leaders and politicians to show how cross-institutional policymaking can empower women.  

Rincker's fine-grained analysis makes a significant contribution to the study of representation and gendered implications of decentralization, as well as how representatives go about understanding and aggregating our diverse policy preferences.

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Reviews

"In Empowered by Design, Meg Rincker analyzes the conditions under which decentralization leads to greater quantities of women in politics as well as enhanced policy representation for women. Her book provides invaluable insight into three diverse contexts—the United Kingdom, Poland, and Pakistan. She collects original data providing evidence about the importance of what she deems the 'gender policy trifecta'—gender quotas, gender mainstreaming, and gender responsive budgeting—to promote women's political empowerment at all levels. Her work offers important policy implications and will be of interest to academics, students, and practitioners alike. Rincker combines methodological techniques including case studies, comparative analysis, and elite interviewing, making the scope of this book especially impressive. No less important is that she sustains her argument throughout the book and her writing style thoroughly engages the reader."
Farida Jalalzai, Hannah Atkins Endowed Chair in the Department of Political Science, Oklahoma State University

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Excerpt

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).


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Contents

List of Figures and Tables

Acknowledgments

PART I
1. Three Guiding Questions about Decentralization and Women’s Empowerment
2. Decentralization and Gender Inequality in the Absence of the Gender Policy Trifecta

PART II
3. Poland: One Node of the Gender Policy Trifecta
4. Pakistan: Two Nodes of the Gender Policy Trifecta
5. The United Kingdom: Three Nodes of the Gender Policy Trifecta

PART III
6. Global Assessment of the Gender Policy Trifecta

Appendix 1: Hybrid Survey–Structured Interview Method
Appendix 2: Sample Survey Questionnaires
Appendix 3: Women’s Descriptive Representation (%) in Decentralized Poland, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom
Appendix 4: Policies and Events Directly Affecting Women in Poland, 1993–2014
Appendix 5: Policies and Events Directly Affecting Women in Pakistan, 1973–2013
Appendix 6: Policies and Events Directly Affecting Women in the United Kingdom, 1997–2014

References
Index

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About the Author(s)

Meg Rincker is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Purdue University Northwest.

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Subject Categories

Political Science and Public Policy
Women's Studies
Community Organizing and Social Movements

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