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This chapter explores the rationale of women’s participation in three different institutions of governance—parliament, civil service, and local government—in South Asia and examines the mechanisms used to ensure adequate representation of women who often remain underrepresented more because of discriminatory state policies and dominance of patriarchal values than for their own faults. Two different methods are used to recruit people to different institutions—merit and quota. Different variants of the quota system used in different parts of the world have been identified and their implications have also been explored. Reference has been made to the difficulty of identifying any causal link between an increase in descriptive representation that follows the introduction of the quota system and substantive representation. Reference has also been made to the notion of ‘critical mass’ and the problem of making it work.
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- Chapter 1