Women’s Empowerment and Cultural Change in Rwanda

Jennie Burnet

in The Impact of Gender Quotas

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199830091
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932924 | DOI:
Women’s Empowerment and Cultural Change in Rwanda

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This chapter addresses trends among ordinary people, but suggests an alternative method for establishing causality between quotas and changes in citizens’ beliefs. Jennie Burnet’s fieldwork on reserved seats and legislative quotas in Rwanda indicates that quotas have encouraged women to participate more actively in community life, work outside the home, speak in public meetings, and demand greater equality in their intimate relationships. Yet these dramatic cultural shifts in women’s roles have caused indignation among men, many of whom resist the quotas’ ability to redefine gender roles, leading them to express resentment as women become more empowered. Burnet consequently demonstrates that quotas can be part of broad processes of cultural change and that men and women may experience these ideological transformations quite differently.

Keywords: gender quotas; reserved seats; legislative quota; political engagement; cultural change; Rwanda

Chapter.  8866 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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