Politics & Gender

Research Article

Peace Accords and the Adoption of Electoral Quotas for Women in the Developing World, 1990–2006

Miriam J. Andersona1 and Liam Swissa1

a1 Memorial University

The high percentage of women in Rwanda's parliament is well known. At 64%, it scores far above the world average of about 22% (IPU 2013). Rather than an anomaly, Rwanda is representative of many postconflict developing countries that feature women's political representation at above-average levels. A frequently identified correlate of this heightened representation has been the presence of electoral quotas for women (Bush 2011; Fallon, Swiss, and Viterna 2012; Paxton, Hughes, and Painter 2010). More generally, the role of societal rupture and transitions from conflict to peace or from authoritarianism to democracy have been a focus of gender and politics research in recent years (Fallon, Swiss, and Viterna 2012; Hughes 2007; 2009; Hughes and Paxton 2007; Viterna and Fallon 2008). Within such transitions, the role of women's participation has been identified as a key determinant of more beneficial posttransition outcomes for women (Viterna and Fallon 2008). Peace processes and the accords that they yield represent a mechanism through which transition and women's rights become linked and theoretically hold the potential to shape postconflict societies. However, the link between women's involvement in peace processes and the subsequent adoption of electoral quotas has not been explored. In this article, we seek to answer the question: What is the relationship between postconflict transition, peace processes, and quota adoption? To this end, we examine the role played by peace accords and, more specifically, accords with a focus on women's rights in leading countries to adopt electoral quotas for women.


  Support for this research was provided by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council doctoral fellowship and funding from Memorial University. The authors would like to thank the following research assistants: Fatuma Nsaba, Jonathan Ricketts, and Leigh Spanner. The authors are also grateful to Kathleen Fallon and the two anonymous reviewers who read and commented on the manuscript drafts.

Equal coauthors listed in alphabetical order.