Collective Identities, Institutions, Security, and State Building in Afghanistan

Anna Larson

in The Impact of Gender Quotas

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199830091
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932924 | DOI:
Collective Identities, Institutions, Security, and State Building in Afghanistan

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This chapter investigates the impact of reserved seats in Afghanistan. Despite the quota, the parliament has produced little legislation promoting women’s gendered interests. This outcome is not surprising given the relatively short lifespan of parliamentary government in Afghanistan, but appears curious given systematic discrimination against women in recent history. Through original interviews with MPs, Anna Larson reveals three obstacles to substantive representation. These barriers stem from a mix of political, institutional, and socio-cultural factors in Afghanistan: (1) the enormous challenge of constructing a collective identity based on gender, rather than ethnicity or region; (2) a legislative environment full of informal rules that impede women’s ability to promote women’s rights; and (3) a rapidly deteriorating security environment, which makes advocating women’s rights personally as well as politically risky. This case study reveals the challenges in promoting women’s rights in countries struggling to build new democratic institutions.

Keywords: gender quotas; reserved seats; legislative behavior; political violence; ethnic politics; security; state-building; Afghanistan

Chapter.  8575 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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