Women’s Representation and Implications for Fairness, Trust, and Performance in Local Government: A Survey Experiment in Sri Lanka

Published date01 December 2022
Date01 December 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Political Research Quarterly
© 2021 University of Utah
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/10659129211009300
Gender mainstreaming, that is, institutionalizing gender
equality in politics and administration has grabbed atten-
tion in recent years (Jamil et al. 2020; Phumessawatdi
2020). The main aim of this current wave of gender main-
streaming is to include women as they are underrepre-
sented in different political and administrative institutions
in different countries. The demand to increase women’s
representation at both the central and the local govern-
ment level has led to affirmative policies being formu-
lated in developed countries as well as in the Global
South. One of such key elements of affirmative policy is
to introduce gender quota. The quota indicates the mini-
mum amount of representation set for women in the insti-
tution or legislature (Clark 2015). Many developing
countries favor this quota much more than the consoli-
dated and advanced industrial democracies of Western
Europe (Bush 2011). The expectation undergirding gen-
der quotas is that the level of women’s participation will
extend beyond the elite level and empower women to the
point where they break free from their age-old subordi-
nate position in national life and become politically
involved (Zetterberg 2009).
A gender quota initially helps to increase women’s
descriptive representation by increasing the number of
women in politics and administration. This increased
number of female leaders and their activities may inspire
women to become more politically involved. The provi-
sion of quota may also lead to substantive representation
if female leaders started to articulate the demands and the
interests of women in policy processes. If gender quota
can inspire people or/and create expectations for true
(substantive) representations, then it will also result in
increasing citizens’ perception of fairness in governance
and can enhance their institutional trust. Nevertheless, in
a patriarchal society, the opposite scenario could also
emerge since people may evaluate a gender quota nega-
tively due to socially constructed gender norms. The
places where there are no such gender norms, they may
1009300PRQXXX10.1177/10659129211009300Political Research QuarterlyBaniamin and Jamil
1North South University, Bangladesh
2University of Bergen, Norway
Corresponding Author:
Hasan Muhammad Baniamin, Department of Political Science and
Sociology & South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance (SIPG),
North South University, Bashundhara, Dhaka 1229, Bangladesh.
Email: hasan.baniamin@northsouth.edu
Women’s Representation and Implications
for Fairness, Trust, and Performance in
Local Government: A Survey Experiment
in Sri Lanka
Hasan Muhammad Baniamin1 and Ishtiaq Jamil2
How do quotas for women in Sri Lanka’s local government institutions affect key governance indicators such as
perceived fairness, institutional trust, and perceived performance? These dimensions of governance are underexplored
in the context of gender quota policies in patriarchal societies like that of Sri Lanka. The study hypothetically varied
the quota provision for women (decrease to 10%, increase to 45%, or keep at the current 25%) in local government,
and then tried to understand people’s opinions about the three governance indicators. When examining the results
of the experiment (around 1,200 samples), it was found that perceived fairness, institutional trust, and perceived
performance increased along with the greater quota provision. Possible mechanisms for the increases in institutional
trust and perceived performance may be associated with the signal of fairness generated by the increase of quota
provision for women.
gender quota, representation, performance, Sri Lanka, survey experiment, trust
2022, Vol. 75(4) 1229–1239

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