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Democratic Institutions, Political Representation and Women's Empowerment:The Quota Debate in India

(1999) 'Democratic Institutions, Political Representation and Women’s Empowerment: The Quota Debate in India' Democratization, 6(3): 84-99

This material has been published in Democratization, Vol 6, No 3, year 1999, pp 84-89. The only definitive repository of the content that has been certified and accepted after peer review. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by Taylor & Francis. This material may not be copied or reposted without explicit permission. (Copyright (C) Taylor & Francis Ltd.) The web-site of the journal is located at


This article reflects upon the debate on quotas for women in representative institutions of government. It poses the poses the question whether current debates about quotas for women are relevant to debates on women's empowerment. In doing so, it points to the bases upon which the arguments for and against quotas have been presented within the Indian political system, taking into account the historical debates in caste, the emergence of coalition politics, the strength of women's movement, and the engagement of women's groups with the politics of difference. The central argument of the article is that unless the issues of class-based and caste-based differences are taken seriously by women's groups in India, the wider question of empowerment cannot be satisfactorily answered. The conclusion assesses whether the Indian example is of relevance to wider debates on quotas as strategies of empowerment.

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