17, September, 2012

“Participatory Governance?” Gender and Participation in Peru’s Local Institutions

Are participatory budgets truly "participatory"? If not, what does this mean for participatory governance projects meant to engage those citizens that have been left behind by corrupt or inefficient representative political institutions? This paper begins to analyse these issues by exploring gender and participatory budgeting in Peru.

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In 2002 and 2003, Peruvians set up several participatory institutions through a national decentralization reform. These institutions were codified in the reform’s legal framework as part of efforts to clean up Peruvian politics after the corrupt and authoritarian Fujimori years. Reformers hoped to improve democracy and governance by devolving economic and political powers to subnational governments while also mandating that civil society organizations participate in newly established subnational institutions. A nationwide participatory budgeting process is one of the most important of these institutions.


This paper explores this effort in more depth and asks: Do women and men participate equally in Peru’s PBs? If not, why not? Finally, can steps be taken to make these institutions more inclusive? To respond to these questions, the paper unfolds in four sections. First, Peru’s experience with participatory budgeting, in the context of the rise of participatory institutions in Latin America, is described. Next, data are reported about the percent of women and women’s organizations that have participated in the process over time. The data show that women are not participating in equal numbers as men; the third section explores why. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the broader implications of this case, as well as recommendations for engaging excluded groups in participatory processes. While the main causes of female underrepresentation are hard and slow to change, there are some steps that can be taken to encourage more inclusive institutions.



Author: Stephanie McNulty
Orginal publication date: September, 2012
Full citation: McNulty, Stephanie, 'Participatory Governance?' Gender and Participation in Peru’s Local Institutions (September 1, 2012). Prepared for delivery at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August 30-September 2, 2012.



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