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A Comparative Analysis of Women’s Descriptive Representation in Subnational Politics in Peru and Russia

This research paper addresses an overarching question related to women’s representation in subnational politics. Which specific social and political conditions promote the descriptive representation of women in subnational political units? The first section presents an analytical review of literature to identify the social and political conditions found by researchers as creating access points and spaces that aid women’s presence in subnational politics. Collectively, these social and political conditions, including decentralization, create a theoretical framework that can be utilized in comparative case analysis. The second and empirical part of this paper applies several of these identified conditions to the subnational sphere in two different cultural contexts, Peru and Russia. This comparative analysis fosters a more in-depth understanding of the complexities surrounding women’s representation in subnational politics as I find that social and political conditions, most especially decentralization, are highly contingent on cultural context and existing gendered political structures and dynamics. The collision of political, social, and cultural forces actually may work against women’s ability to gain a voice in prominent political processes. A focus on the two countries of Peru and Russia, with their distinct social and political milieus, allows me to provide a much more nuanced analysis in noting the degree to which these political and social conditions have almost paradoxically helped in opening spaces of representation for women while oftentimes challenging these spaces. This comparative analysis in turn enables me to explore the relevance and salience of using social and political forces to better understand women’s subnational representation.

Clay, Alina Senior Thesis

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