17, January, 2014

Ethnic Identity, Informal Institutions, and the Failure to Elect Women in Indigenous Southern Mexico

This article argues that the low levels of descriptive representation of women in local political office in Mexico and Latin America is much more than a problem of the purported patriarchal cultures of indigenous and rural communities.

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The authors claim, based on a comprehensive survey of 466 municipal governments in the indigenous state of Oaxaca, that the underrepresentation of women is a function of institutions limiting female candidates. They test this “candidate supply” hypothesis, adapted from US-based studies, against the hypothesis that culture – as measured by indigenous ethnicity – has an independent effect on women’s representation. They disconfirm that patriarchal, traditionalist cultures of indigenous communities cause underrepresentation in the election of women and instead find that a particular set of local institutions, which are more prevalent in indigenous municipalities, blocks the supply of potential women candidates. The authors conclude by considering the normative implications for women’s representation in local politics in Mexico and Latin America.

Authors:  Michael Stephen Danielson, Todd Alan Eisenstadt, Jennifer Yelle
Orginal publication date: 2013
Publisher: GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Institute of Latin American Studies



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