Gender-Focused Parliamentary Institutions Research Network

Gender-Focused Parliamentary Institutions Research Network

In the early 21st century increased attention was being paid to the role of parliaments and specialised parliamentary bodies in promoting gender equality or ‘gender mainstreaming’. Members of the research network are interested in how these relatively new parliamentary bodies came into being, critical actors involved, linkages with other agencies promoting gender equality and the engagement of women’s civil society organisations.

In the early 21st century increased attention was being paid to the role of parliaments and specialised parliamentary bodies in promoting gender equality or ‘gender mainstreaming’. Both the Inter-Parliamentary Union and individual scholars began publishing case studies and overviews of the work of gender-focused parliamentary bodies.

At the Third European Conference on Politics and Gender in Barcelona in 2013 Marian Sawer and Joan Grace convened a meeting to establish an international network linking researchers, co-ordinating research projects and promoting cumulative knowledge on the subject. The new network was called 'Gender-Focused Parliamentary Institutions Research Network' or GenParlNet.

Members of the research network are interested in how these relatively new parliamentary bodies came into being, critical actors involved, linkages with other agencies promoting gender equality and the engagement of women’s civil society organisations. Research includes identifying the characteristics of the different types of gender-focused parliamentary bodies, how they relate to different institutional contexts and how effective they are.

The first major event organised by GenParlNet consisted of panels presented at the IPSA World Congress in Montreal, 2014. The second major event was the GenParlNet panels at the Fourth European Conference on Politics and Gender at Uppsala in 2015. A selection of these papers were published in Parliamentary Affairs in early 2016. The third event was the GenParlNet panel organised by Manda Green at the IPSA World Congress in Poznan in 2016, with six papers on the theme 'Gender-Focused Parliamentary Bodies – Criteria for Success or Failure'. The fourth event consists in the GenParlNet panels at the Fifth European Conference on Politics and Gender at Lausanne in June 2017 (details under Events).

To date GenParlNet has organised events at four international conferences and has organised one panel for the 2018 IPSA World Congress in Brisbane convened by Jennifer Piscopo: 'Leadership, Collaboration and Representation: Women Legislators and the Advancement of Gender Equality'.

For the Fifth European Conference on Politics and Gender at Lausanne, June 2017 there are two GenParlNet panels. Jennifer Piscopo has organised a panel with five papers: 'Theorising Gender-Focused Parliamentary Bodies: The Causes and Consequences of Institutional Design'.

Mette Marie Harders and Mary Nugent have also organised a panel with five papers: 'Unexplored aspects of women's substantive representation: Considering new settings, actors, institutions and interconnections'.

These panels are in the Governance, Institutions and Public Policy and the Power and Representation sections of the conference, respectively.

Manda Green organised the GenParlNet panel for the International Political Science Association Congress in Poznan 23–28 July 2016, available here.

Marian Sawer and Joan Grace convened two GenParlNet panels for the Governance, Institutions and Public Policy stream of the Fourth European Conference on Politics and Gender at Uppsala, 11-13 June 2015.

They were as follows:

Panel #1 Gender mainstreaming: The role of specialised parliamentary bodies

Chair Drude Dahlerup (Stockholm University)
Discussant Jennifer Piscopo (Occidental College, USA)

Paper 1: 'Specialised parliamentary bodies: Their role and relevance to women’s movement repertoires'  

Marian Sawer (Australian National University)

Paper 2: 'Women’s parliamentary bodies and the quality of women’s substantive representation: A UK, Belgian and New Zealand comparison'

Karen Celis (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Sarah Childs (Bristol University  and Jennifer Curtin (University of Auckland)

Paper 3: 'The role of specialized parliamentary bodies: The Swedish Parliament'

 Lenita Freidenvall (Stockholm University)

Paper 4: 'The role of gender-focused institutions in international parliamentary networks in gender-responsive budgeting: The case of the Network of Women in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Community of Countries of Portuguese Language'

Monica Costa (University of South Australia/ Australian National University)


Panel #2 Gender mainstreaming: The role of standing committees of parliament

Chair Joyce Outshoorn (Leiden University)
Discussant Fiona  Mackay (Edinburgh University)

Paper 1: 'Gendering the House of Commons: The politics of measurement and success'

Joan Grace (University of Winnipeg)

Paper 2: 'Legislative institutional design – what does it take for legislative committees on equality to do the trick?'

 Mette Marie Stæhr Harder (University of Roskilde)

Paper 3: 'Accounting for differences and similarities: How Belgian Parliamentary Advisory Committees on Equality deal with gender mainstreaming' 

Petra Meier (University of Antwerp)

There were two highly successful GenParlNet panels at the IPSA World Congress Montréal, 19-24 July 2014.

(1) A new sphere for feminist institution-building? Gender-focused parliamentary bodies

Position Person
Convenor Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Chair Lenita Freidenvall (University of Stockholm)
Co-Chair Amanda Gouws (Stellenbosch University)
Discussant Mona Lena Krook (Rutgers University)

Over the past 20 years a substantial literature has emerged on feminist institution-building within the state and within international governance institutions. So far there has been relatively little attention paid to the emergence of feminist institution-building within another sphere, that of parliament. This has all begun to change. In 2004 the Inter-Parliamentary Union called for the strengthening of the role of parliaments in advancing gender equality and in 2006 established a database of parliamentary bodies with a mandate in this area. A range of case studies began to emerge, exploring the role of such parliamentary bodies in supporting ‘critical acts’ and providing a platform for gender-focused discourse.

This panel will seek to further develop a typology and comparative framework for the analysis of gender-focused parliamentary bodies, encompassing their origins, functions, resources, civil-society linkages, leadership and perceived effectiveness in promoting gender equality. In addition to the framework paper, case studies will be presented from four continents, covering six national parliaments as well as the European Parliament. Among other aims, the case studies will seek to establish how successfully such bodies have been nested within parliamentary institutions dominated by different norms and political cultures.

Language: English

Session: RC19 Gender Politics and Policy


Comparing parliamentary bodies with responsibility for gender equality

Marian Sawer

This paper will focus on developing a typology of gender-focused parliamentary bodies and a framework for comparative analysis.  So far the types of gender-focused parliamentary body on which the Inter-Parliamentary Union collects data include only: (1) parliamentary standing committees or commissions, constituted under standing orders and (2) women’s caucuses, whether cross party or single party in nature. Another type, so far excluded from data collections, is (3) the gender-focused all-party parliamentary group, approved by a presiding officer or some other parliamentary authority. Under this heading would come bodies such as the Speaker’s Reference Group on Gender Equality in Sweden, the Parliamentary Groups on Population and Development in many parliaments and the gender-focused All-Party Parliamentary Groups in the UK parliament.

The proposed framework for comparing gender-focused parliamentary bodies includes their origins, mandate, resources, linkages with women’s civil society organisations and perceived effectiveness in promoting gender equality and/or gender mainstreaming. Sources of effectiveness might include the role of critical actors, of partnerships with other parliamentary and non-parliamentary agencies and with international actors, as well as with strong NGO partners. The paper will also explore the different kinds of rationales that can be provided for gender-focused parliamentary groups, such as:

  1. empowerment arguments
  2. functional arguments and
  3. feminist arguments.

It will finish by considering whether feminist institutionalisation is by its nature ‘precarious’.

Comparing gender-focused parliamentary bodies at the national and sub-national levels in Canada

Joan Grace

Recent scholarship has turned to exploring ways to “feminize” governing institutions to determine challenges and opportunities as a method to identify best practices. While this work has been undertaken in many jurisdictions, there is a lack of attention to the study of gender-focused parliamentary bodies in the Canadian context. As a decentralized federal system with distinctive sub-national political environments, Canada provides an excellent opportunity to analyse and compare parliamentary committees and other institutional bodies. Such an analysis might serve as a prism through which to view the distinctive social connections Canadians have with different levels of government.

With that in mind, this paper has a number of research objectives. I will initially make the case for studying legislative committees as institutional sites of influence for the articulation of policy issues of import to gender equality within the Canadian federal system. I then turn my attention to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Committee in the national House of Commons to compare its work with like bodies at the sub-national level to account for similarities or differences. Finally, this paper will glean the ways in which gender-focused committees and parliamentary practices facilitate the integration of an equality discourse and the participation of non-governmental actors. 

This paper will argue that gender- or equality-focused legislative committees have the potential to substantively attend to the policy requirements of women while also building democratic government-society relations.

Inclusive Institutions versus Feminist Advocacy: Women’s Legislative Committees and Caucuses in Latin America

Jennifer Piscopo

Practitioners in the field of international development have identified gender-focused legislative institutions as critical for achieving various political goals related to gender equity.  This paper explores the specific claim that gender equality committees and women’s caucuses enhance female legislators’ ability to build policy coalitions around women’s rights. Bill introduction and interview data from the cases of Argentina and Mexico are analysed, revealing a counter-intuitive finding: the more gender-focused legislative institutions allow female politicians to collaborate on women’s rights reforms, the less the resultant policies challenge traditional gender roles. 

The Latin American evidence shows that gender equality committees and inter-partisan caucuses sacrifice feminist policy goals for cohesion among female (and some male) officeholders. This exchange becomes especially pronounced when electoral gender quotas ensure that women are elected from parties that span the ideological spectrum. As women’s caucuses derive their legitimacy through broad membership bases, and as gender equality committees require formal or informal consensus to endorse policies, the radical nature of proposed reforms decreases.

This analysis thus brings new insights to studies of gender-focused legislative institutions. First, equality commissions and women’s caucuses force a trade-off along two dimensions of women’s rights reform: depth (the ability to challenge traditional gender roles) and scope (the ability to mainstream gendered policy analyses). Second, women’s caucuses face an additional, yet related tradeoff: between inclusive membership and feminist advocacy. These tensions suggest that gender-focused institutions may not challenge the patriarchal legislatures in which they are embedded.

Parliamentary Bodies and the Quality of Women’s Substantive Representation

Karen Celis and Sarah Childs

What constitutes the ‘good’ substantive representation of women? Feminists used to think they knew: women representatives acting for women in a feminist fashion. Yet today the heterogeneity of women is increasingly recognized by gender and politics scholars; and creative theories of representation suggest a gendered economy of claims, with a multitude of competing claims ‘for women’. Neither account provides for an adequate evaluation of the quality of women’s substantive representation. In earlier work where we address this limitation and have argued for a shift of focus onto the processes through which the gendered economy of claims is realised. In this, women’s substantive representation is not regarded as something to be achieved through the presence of women representatives pursuing feminist goals. Rather ‘good’ substantive representation is a process, which involves debate, deliberation, and contestation over what constitutes the interest of women. At the systemic level inclusiveness, equality, and responsiveness to the represented are necessary conditions.

In this paper we investigate the extent to which parliamentary bodies with an explicit gender focus - the most evident site for political debate, deliberation and contestation - contribute to an inclusive, equal and responsive process of women’s substantive representation. To answer this question we conduct a comparative analysis including Belgium and the UK, which enables also to investigate the effectiveness of parliamentary gender bodies varying in level of institutionalisation and linkage to civil society. Belgium has long established institutionalized gender equality committees (Lower Chamber since the mid 1980, Senate since 1997) that are considered to be part of the state architecture, i.e. the women's policy agencies. In the UK, in contrast these are far less formalized and state oriented. The All-Party Groups (APGs) are informal cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament. They are essentially run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords, although many groups involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities. Given that the APGs are in comparison to the Belgian parliamentary gender equality bodies more stronger linked to civil society makes us to expect that the UK type of parliamentary gender bodies holds to greatest promise for delivering an inclusive, equal and responsive process of women’s substantive representation. Our study furthermore pays attention to the role and contribution of other ‘institutions’ operating in parliament in that respect, more precisely the women’s party committees.

Gender Mainstreaming inside the European Parliament

Petra Ahrens

Since 2003, the European Parliament committed itself in various resolutions to implement gender mainstreaming through a policy plan in all its policies, in the parliamentary committees, in delegations, and in the administration. The activities foreseen encompassed a broad variety of goals such as setting up a High Level Group on Gender Equality, gender balance in decision-making processes, incorporating gender analysis into all stages of the budgetary process and a press and information policy that avoids gender stereotypes. The main responsibility for implementing gender mainstreaming, however, still rests with the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM). In this paper I will discuss, what the exact mandate and function of the FEMM committee within the EU parliament regarding gender mainstreaming is, which activities it carried out since 2003 with regard to implementing gender mainstreaming in parliamentary processes, and whether civil-society linkages played a role.


(2) Gender, diversity and power in legislative committees: Comparative perspectives

Position Person
Convenor Hilmar Rommetvedt (International Research Institute of Stavanger)
Chair Anne Maria Holli (University of Helsinki)
Discussant Joan Grace (University of Winnipeg)

A legislative committee in Parliament can be defined as a subgroup of legislators entrusted with reading in detail a bill in a specific policy area on behalf of the plenary and, often in practice, in its stead. In fact, this task of scrutinising and amending bills most often is actually delegated from the plenary to parliamentary legislative committees. The status of such committees as well as the internal hierarchies within parliaments have proved to be a major internal obstacle for newcomers, such as women and minorities, making it difficult for them to gain power or advance to higher positions. Typically, world parliaments display both an internal horizontal and vertical gender segregation in this respect.

This panel calls for comparative studies on the accessibility and functional consequences of legislative committees for women and minority representatives. What are the mechanisms hindering their access to high-status committees; do they make a difference in terms of substantive representation when they are there? In addition, the panel is interested in empirical studies of recent developments, such as the emergence of parliamentary committees for equality in many parliaments and their effectiveness from these perspectives.


A legislative committee for gender equality: does it make any difference?

Anne Maria Holli

In Finland, from 2001 onward, one of the parliamentary standing committees was given an explicit mandate for handling gender equality issues in the process of legislative scrutiny, with a concominant change of its name to Committee for Employment and Equality. The same thing has occurred also in some other countries, although these developments have only recently been subjected to systematic analysis. Drawing both from parliamentary studies and state feminist scholarship, the paper provides an empirical case study comparing this particular committee with the other parliamentary committees of the Finnish parliament as well as temporally, before and after it achieved the equality mandate. The analysis focuses on five dimensions: the composition of committee membership; members’ level of information concerning gender issues; consultative practices; committee outputs; and evaluation of overall significance.

Does the Women’s Delegation in the French National Assembly encourage the participation and inclusion of civil society representatives in parliamentary hearings?

Manda Green

The year 2014 will mark the 15th anniversary of the creation of Women’s Delegations in both chambers of the French Parliament.  Initially set up to assist the passage of gender parity legislation and to introduce gender mainstreaming, these bodies – the first explicitly gender-balanced agencies in parliament - have succeeded in stitching themselves into the fabric of the Senate and National Assembly under four separate legislatures, under right- and leftwing majorities.  Some initial research has looked at the institutional design of the Delegation in the National Assembly and the way it operates within the committee system (Green, 2005 & 2013).   The debates surrounding the creation of these Delegations revealed a strong desire to open parliamentary deliberation to organisations and individuals from civil society – ‘to make women’s voices heard in legislation’, as one of the sponsors put it during the vote.  This presentation will analyse how this has worked out in practice by analysing feedback from the organisations and individuals called as witnesses since 1999.   On the basis of participating NGOs’ appraisal of subsequent legislation, cases of Delegation success and failure to incorporate civil society demands can be identified.  Subsequent in-depth analysis of the processes – formal and informal – involved in these bills can help us to understand which strategies work and why some bills have fallen short of expectations.

Institution-building and the substantive representation of women in the Danish Parliament

Mette Marie Staehr Harder

This paper looks into former and present institutions dealing with gender equality in the Danish National Parliament. It does so from a theoretical standpoint inspired by feminist institutionalism. Especially two types of institutions will be analyzed; the Legislative Committee on Equal Opportunities and women MP networks. Focus will be put on these institutions’ ability to support the substantive representation of women by 1) facilitating cooperation among female MPs, 2) ensuring specialization (e.g. through interaction with women NGOs), 3) creating a forum for the monitoring of the government’s policy in the area of gender equality and 4) supporting the placement of gender equality and gender mainstreaming on the parliament’s agenda. Best practice and the role of critical actors will also be identified. So far the studies done suggest that the networks in particular have played an essential role in promoting cooperation among female MPs, getting women issues on the agenda and advancing women’s careers in and outside Parliament. For example, the Women Nights, in which female MPs and female journalists through the 80s met over dinner and sing-along about the political male dominated culture did not only advance female MPs access to the media. They also advanced female journalists’ careers by providing them with connections and information which enabled them to break through the (former) male dominated world of political journalism. The analysis is based on qualitative interviews with former as well as present MPs and might also include statistical findings concerning the parliamentary behaviour of MPs.


Recent publications

Mette Marie Staehr Harder's article 'Assessing the Impact of Parliamentary Design: The Case of the Danish Committee on Gender Equality' has just been published in Scandinavian Political Studies doi: 10.1111/1467-9477.12102

Marian Sawer's article 'Beyond Numbers: The Role of Specialised Parliamentary Bodies in Promoting Gender Equality' appeared in the autumn/winter 2015 Australasian Parliamentary Review 30(1): 105–122 .

The GenParlNet papers given at Uppsala in 2015 formed the basis of a special issue of Parliamentary Affairs entitled 'Representing Gender Equality in Parliament: Specialised Parliamentary Bodies'. The following articles were published in Advanced Access in March-April 2016:

  • Introduction , Marian Sawer and Joan Grace
  • Specialised Parliamentary Bodies: Their Role and Relevance to Women’s Movement Repertoire, Marian Sawer and Alicia Turner
  • Specialised Parliamentary Bodies and the Quality of Women’s Substantive Representation:  A Comparative Analysis of Belgium, United Kingdom and New Zealand, Karen Celis, Sarah Childs, Jennifer Curtin
  • Presence and Purpose in the Canadian House of Commons: The Standing Committee on the Status of Women, Joan Grace
  • Gender-focused institutions in international parliamentary bodies: The case of the women’s caucus of the Parliamentary Assembly of The Portuguese-speaking Countries   Monica Costa
  • The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the European Parliament—Taking Advantage of Institutional Power Play , Petra Ahrens
  • The Women’s Delegation in France: Making Women’s Voices Heard? , Manda Green
  • Towards a Dual Approach: Comparing the Effects of Parliamentary Committees on Gender Equality in Denmark and Finland, Anne Maria Holli  and Mette Marie Harder
  • A New Way of Doing Politics? Cross-Party Women’s Caucuses as Critical Actors in Uganda and Uruguay , Niki Johnson and Cecilia Josefsson



Select publications by GenParlNet members

  • Ahrens, Petra. 2012. Wenn sich Nachteile als Vorteile erweisen: Der Ausschuss für die Rechte der Frau und die Gleichstellung der Geschlechter im Europäischen Parlament. femina politica, Vol 21 (2): 119-125. [The influence of the institutional setting in the European Parliament on the Comittee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality]
  • Ahrens, Petra. 2011. Gender Equality Policy Networks in the European Union and the Utility of Qualitative Network Analysis. BGSS Working Paper Series. Berlin: Humboldt University.
  • Archenti, Nélida and Niki Johnson. 2006. “Engendering the Legislative Agenda With or Without the Quota: A Comparative Study of Argentina and Uruguay”, Sociologia, Problemas E Práticas 52, 133-153.
  • Ballington, Julie and Azza Karam, eds. 2005.  Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers (A Revised Edition).  Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).
  • Bauer, Gretchen and Jennie Burnet. 2013. ‘Gender Quotas, Democracy and Women’s Representation in Africa: Some Insights from Democratic Botswana and Autocratic Rwanda.’, Women’s Studies International Forum, forthcoming. [This is one article in a special issue of WSIF to be published by the end of 2013, much of it already published online; papers come out of a workshop on Women’s Representation and Democracy in Africa held in Bergen June 2012]
  • Bauer, Gretchen. 2012. '"Let There be a Balance": Women in African Parliaments', Political Studies Review 10(3), 370-384. [Overview/review of the literature to date on women’s substantive and symbolic representation effects in parliaments in Africa.]
  • Bauer, Gretchen. 2010. '"Cows Will Lead the Herd into a Precipice": Where are the Women MPs in Botswana?', Botswana Notes and Records, 42, 56-70. [Article based on field research on why there are so few women MPs in Botswana when a model democracy and surrounded by many African countries with significant percentages of women in their parliaments.]
  • Bauer, Gretchen. 2008. '"50/50 by 2020": Electoral Gender Quotas for Parliament in East and Southern Africa.', International Feminist Journal of Politics. 10(3): 348-368. [Compares two commonly used types of quotas in east and southern Africa.]
  • Bauer, Gretchen and Hannah E. Britton, eds. 2006. Women in African Parliaments. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
  • Bauer, Gretchen. 2004. ‘"The Hand that Stirs the Pot Can Also Run the Country": Electing Women to Parliament in Namibia’, Journal of Modern African Studies, 42(4), 479-509. [Early article based on field research that details ways in which so many women accessed parliament in Namibia, when Namibia still one of leaders on the African continent.]
  • Celis, Karen, Sarah Childs, Johanna Kantola and Mona Lena Krook. 2008. “Rethinking Women’s Substantive Representation”, Representation 44(2), 99-110.
  • Childs, Sarah. 2013. “Negotiating Gendered Institutions: Women’s Parliamentary Friendships”, Politics and Gender 9, 127-151.
  • Childs, Sarah. 2006. “The House Turned Upside Down? The Difference Labour’s Women MPs Made”, in Marian Sawer, Manon Tremblay and Linda Trimble, eds., Representing Women in Parliament: A Comparative Study. London: Routledge.
  • Childs, Sarah and Mona Lena Krook. 2009. “Analysing Women’s Substantive Representation: From Critical Mass to Critical Actors”, Government and Opposition 44(2), 125-145.
  • Chiva, Cristina. (forthcoming). Women's Representation in Politics in Post-Communist Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (manuscript due 31 December 2013, to be published in the Gender and Politics series). [a comparative study of women's representation in the legislatures and executives of post-communist Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, 1990-2012; please note that the title is subject to change]
  • Chiva, Cristina. 2012. “Gender, European integration and candidate recruitment: the European Parliament elections in the new EU member states”, Parliamentary Affairs Advance Access, 30 August 2012. [women's representation in European elections in nine post-communist EU member states]
  • Costa, Monica, Marian Sawer, Rhonda Sharp. 2012. ‘Women Acting for Women: Gender-Responsive Budgeting in Timor-Leste’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 13 September. DOI:10.1080/14616742.2012.714119. Republished as ‘Mulheres em ação pelas mulheres: o caso das finanças públicas sensíveis a gênero de Timor-Leste’ in Márcia Larangeiro Jácome and Shirley Villela (eds), Orçamentos sensíveis a genêro: Experiências, Brasilia: Onu Mulheres, pp. 215–243. [role of Women’s Caucus of Timor Leste National Assembly]
  • Curtin, Jennifer and Louise Chappell. 2013. “Does Federalism Matter? Evaluating State Architecture and Family and Domestic Violence Policies in Australia and New Zealand”, Publius: The Journal of Federalism 43(1), 24-43.
  • Curtin, Jennifer and Katherine Teghtsoonian. 2010. “Analysing Institutional Persistence: The Case of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Aotearoa/NewZealand”, Politics and Gender 6(4), 545-572.
  • Curtin, Jennifer. 2008. “Women, Political Leadership and Substantive Representation: The Case of New Zealand”, Parliamentary Affairs 61(3), 490-504.
  • Freidenvall, Lenita and Mona Lena Krook. 2011. “Discursive Strategies for Institutional Reform: Gender Quotas in Sweden and France” in Mona Lena Krook and Fiona Mackay, eds., Gender, Politics and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Freidenvall. Lenita. 2006. “Quotas as a “Fast Track” to Equal Political Representation for Women: Why Scandinavia is No Longer the Model”, International Feminist Journal of Politics 7(1), 26-48.
  • Grace, Joan. 2011. “Gender and Institutions of Multi-Level Governance: Child Care and Social Policy Debates in Canada” in Mona Lena Krook and Fiona Mackay, eds., Gender, Politics and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. [an analysis of the gender implications and outcomes of Canadian federalism]
  • Green, Manda. 2004. “Safe space et representation substantive: le cas des délégations aux droits des femmes et à l’égalité des chances”, Raisons politiques 15, 97-110.
  • Heath, Roseanna Michelle, Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer and Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson. 2005. “Women on the Sidelines: Women’s Representation on Committees in Latin American Legislatures”, American Journal of Political Science (49)2, 420-436.
  • Holli, Anne Maria. 2012. “Does Gender Have an Effect on the Selection of Experts by Parliamentary Standing Committees?”, Politics & Gender 8, 341-366.
  • Krook Mona Lena and Fiona Mackay. 2011. Gender, Politics and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Kuusipalo, Jaana. 2006. “Women as Politicians, Politicians as Women: Gender-based Politics in Finland” in Anna Moring, ed., Politics of Gender: A Century of Women’s Suffrage in Finland. Helsinki: Otava.
  • Mackay, Fiona and Laura McAllister. 2012. “Feminizing British Politics: Six Lessons from Devolution in Scotland and Wales”, The Political Quarterly 83(4), 730-734.
  • Palmieri, Sonia. 2013. A comparative study of structures for women MPs in the OSCE region, OSCE ODIHR, Warsaw. [A study of women’s caucuses and other parliamentary groups in member parliaments of the OSCE, considering their organisation, activities and relationships.]
  • Palmieri, Sonia. 2013. “Sympathetic advocates: male parliamentarians sharing responsibility for gender equality” Gender and Development, Vol. 21, No. 1, March, pp 67-80. [The article presents strategies to encourage men parliamentarians to engage in gender equality issues.]
  • Palmieri, Sonia. 2011. Gender-Sensitive Parliaments: A Global Review of Good Practice. Geneva: Inter-Parliamentary Union. [Quantitative and qualitative data is used to assess parliaments’ gender sensitivity, defined as a parliament’s responsiveness to the needs and interests of both men and women in its structures, operations, methods and work.]
  • Palmieri, Sonia.. 2010. “Gender mainstreaming in the Australian Parliament: Achievement with room for improvement”, Parliamentary Studies Centre, ANU, Canberra, available at: [Considers the extent to which the Australian Parliament has implemented gender mainstreaming practices.]
  • Palmieri, Sonia and Kareen Jabre. 2005. “Promoting Partnership between Men and Women in Parliament: The Experience of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.” Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers (A Revised Edition).  Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).
  • Palmieri, Sonia.. 2005. “Ten Years in Review: Trends of Women in Parliament Worldwide” in Women In Politics: 1945 – 2005 (Information Kit), Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva.
  • Piscopo, Jennifer. 2011. “Rethinking Descriptive Representation: Rendering Women in Legislative Debates”, Parliamentary Affairs 64(3), 448-472.
  • Rai, Shirin and Rachel E Johnson (eds) Introducing Democracy in Practice: Ceremony and Ritual in the Indian Parliament, Palgrave Macmillan 2014.
  • Sawyer, Marion. 2015. 'Beyond Numbers: The Role of Specialised Parliamentary Bodies in Promoting Gender Equality' in the autumn/ winter 2015 Australasian Parliamentary Review.
  • Sawer, Marian. 2012. “What Makes the Substantive Representation of Women Possible in a Westminster Parliament? The Story of RU486 in Australia”, International Political Science Review 33(3), 320-335. [role of Parliamentary Group on Population and Development]
  • Sawer, Marian, Manon Tremblay and Linda Trimble, eds. 2006. Representing Women in Parliament: A Comparative Study. London: Routledge. [includes Marian Sawer on role of Australian EMILY’s List in promoting substantive representation of women in parliament and Linda Trimble on the Women’s Caucus of the Canadian Liberal Party]
  • Spary, Carole. 2010. “Performing Ethno-Linguistic Representation: A Study of Indian Parliamentary Ceremony and Ritual”, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 16(3), 311-336.
  • Spary, Carole. 2010. “Disrupting Rituals of Debate in the Indian Parliament”, Journal of Legislative Studies 16(3), 338-351.
  • Taylor-Robinson, Michelle M. and Ashley Ross. 2011. “Can Formal Rules of Order be Used as a Proxy for Behaviour Internal to a Legislature? Evidence from Costa Rica”, Journal of Legislative Studies 17(4), 479-500.
  • Taylor-Robinson, Michelle M. and Roseanna Michelle Heath. 2003. “Do Female Legislators Have Different Policy Priorities Than Their Male Colleagues? A Critical Case Test”, Women and Politics 24(4), 77-100.


Other select publications on women, gender and legislative institutions

  • Barnes, Andre. 2012. Gender-Sensitive Parliament: 1. Advancements in the Workplace. Ottawa: Library of Parliament.
  • Chaney, Paul. 2012. “Critical Actors vs. Critical Mass: The Substantive Representation of Women in the Scottish Parliament”, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations (14), 441-457.
  • Darcy, Robert. 1996. “Women in State Legislative Power Structures: Committee Chairs”, Social Science Quarterly 77(4), 888-898.
  • Friedman, Sally. 1996. “House Committee Assignments of Women and Minority Newcomers, 1965-1994”, Legislative Studies Quarterly 21(91), 73-81.
  • Frisch, Scott A. and Sean Q. Kelly. 2003. “A Place at the Table: Women’s Committee Requests and Women’s Committee Assignments in the U.S. House”, Women and Politics 25(3), 1-26.
  • Haussman, Melissa, Marian Sawer and Jill Vickers. 2010. Federalism, Feminism and Multilevel Governance. Surrey, UK: Ashgate.
  • Kenny, Sally J.. 1996. “New Research on Gendered Political Institutions”, Political Research Quarterly 49, 445-466.
  • Leston-Bandeira, Cristina. 2012. “Studying the Relationship between Parliament and Citizens”, The Journal of Legislative Studies, (18)3-4, 265-274.
  • Lovenduski, Joni and Pippa Norris. 2003. “Westminster Women: The Politics of Presence”, Political Studies 51, 84-102.
  • Mackay, Fiona. 2008.”’Thick’ Conceptions of Substantive Representation: Women, Gender and Political Institutions”, Representation (44)2, 125-139.
  • Mackay, Fiona. 2006. “Descriptive and Substantive Representation in New Parliamentary Spaces: The Case of Scotland” in Marian Sawer, Manon Tremblay and Linda Trimble, eds., Representing Women in Parliament: A Comparative Study. London: Routledge.
  • Monk, David. 2012. “Committee Inquiries in the Australian Parliament and their Influence on Government: Government Acceptance of Recommendations as Measure of Parliamentary Influence”, The Journal of Legislative Studies, 18(2), 137-160.
  • O’Brien, Diana Z.. 2012. “Gender and Select Committee Elections in the British House of Commons”, Politics & Gender 8, 178-204.
  • Rosenthal, Cindy Simon. 2001. “Gender Styles in State Legislative Committees”, Women & Politics 21(2), 21-45.
  • Ross, Karen. 2002. “Women’s Place in “Male” Space: Gender and Effect in Parliamentary Contexts”, Parliamentary Affairs 55(1), 189-194.
  • Tremblay, Manon. 2003. “Women’s Representational Role in Australia and Canada: The Impact of Political Context”, Australian Journal of Political Science 38(2), 215-238.
  • Tremblay, Manon. 1998. “Do Female MPs Substantively Represent Women? A Study of the Legislative Behaviour in Canada’s 35th Parliament”, Canadian Journal of Political Science 31(3), 435-465.
  • Norris, Pippa. 1996. “Women Politicians: Transforming Westminster”?, Parliamentary Affairs, 49(1), 89-102.
  • Weldon, Laura. 2002. “Beyond Bodies: Institutional Sources of Representation for Women in Democratic Policymaking”, Journal of Politics 64(4), 1153-1174.


Select reports

  • Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). 2012. Global Parliamentary Report – The Changing Nature of Representation.
  • Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). 2011. Gender Sensitive Parliaments: A Global Review of Good Practice.
  • Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). 2006. The Role of Parliamentary Committees in Mainstreaming Gender and Promoting the Status of Women.
  • United Nations Development Program (UNDP). March 2010. Benchmarks and Self-Assessment Frameworks for Democratic Legislatures.


September 2018

Two new case studies of interest to GenParlNet members have just been published as part of the Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences project at the Australian National University.

They are:

'Parliaments as gendered workplaces' by Sonia Palmieri

  • By focusing on the contribution of feminist scholarship to the understanding of parliament as a gendered workplace, this case study explores the debates and policy reforms that can make parliament a more ‘attractive’ career option for women. » read more

'Violence against women in politics: Rethinking definitions of political violence' by Mona Lena Krook

  • Feminist scholarship has highlighted the need to adopt broader definitions of ‘violence,’ as well as to recognise that the motives and means of political violence may be deeply gendered. » read more

March 2018

The OECD has released comparative data on the mandates of gender equality committees in the parliaments of OECD countries: available here.

Only four have a mandate to examine all (rather than selected) draft laws from a gender equality perspective. Needless to say, one of these is Sweden.

New book

March 2018
Performing Representation: Women Members in the Indian Parliament has just been published by GenParlNet members Shirin Rai and Carole Spary. Here's what Pippa Norris had to say about it: 'This terrific new study provides fresh insights into issues of representation and representativeness, gender and power, and the role of women in parliament – both within India and more broadly. Drawing upon qualitative and quantitative evidence, this book provides an essential contribution towards the literature on women in politics'.

Read what the authors themselves say about the book and the narratives framing the issue of representativeness in the Indian parliament here.

News from GenParlNet member, Sarah Childs

The Women in Parliament All Party Parliamentary Group of the UK House of Commons published its report, 'Improving Parliament' in late spring 2015. This was the result of a formal inquiry that took evidence from MPs, ex-MPs and academics. Professor Sarah Childs (University of Bristol ) was its specialist advisor. One of its key recommendations: the establishment of Women's Select Committee. This would bring it into line with more than 30 other countries and would fulfil one dimension of the Inter Parliamentary Union's Gender Sensitive Parliaments framework. Just after the General Election a Women and Equalities Committee was established, chaired by the Conservative ex Minister, Maria Miller. Its membership is overwhelmingly female, with just one male member; many of its members are also newly elected to the House. It's first inquiry is currently underway, investigating transgender equality.



Convenor Institution
Lenita Freidenvall University of Stockholm, Sweden
Jennifer Piscopo Occidental College, USA


Member Institution
Petra Ahrens Humboldt University, Germany
Noa Balf University of Maryland, USA
Julie Ballington United Nations Development Program
Karen Celis Vriji Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
Sarah Childs University of Bristol, UK
Cristina Chiva University of Salford, UK
Monica Costa University of South Australia
Jennifer Curtin University of Auckland, NZ
Fernanda Argolo Dantas Universidade Federale da Bahia, Brazil
Hanane Darhour Université Ibnou Zohr, Morocco
Theoasie Dedl-Wieser  
Arantxa Elizondo Universidad del Pais Vasco, Spain
Josefina Erikson Uppsala University, Sweden
Ginger Feather University of Kansas, USA
Lenita Freidenvall Stockholm University, Sweden
Yvonne Galligan Queen's University Belfast, Ireland
Barbara Gaweda University of Edinburgh, UK
Joan Grace University of Winnipeg, Canada
Manda Green Université Lumiè Lyon 2, France
Mette Marie Harder University of Roskilde, Denmark
Anne Maria Holli University of Helsinki, Finland
Mirya Holman Tulane University, USA
Shu-Ling Hwang National Defence Medical Centre, Taipei, Taiwan
Kareen Jabre Inter-Parliamentary Union Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland
Yaiza Janssens Ghent University, Belgium
Nino Javakhishvili Ilia State University, Georgia
Niki Johnson Universidad de la República, Uruguay
Cecilia Josefsson Uppsala University, Sweden
Mona Lena Krook Rutgers University, USA
Jaana Kuusipalo Tampere University of Technology, Finland
Anna Mitchel Mahoney Tulane University, USA
Laura McAllister University of Liverpool, UK
Elisabeth Mége-Revil Université Lille 3, France
Petra Meier University of Antwerp, Belgium
Sonia Palmieri Parliament of Australia
Jennifer Piscopo Salem College, North Carolina, USA
Shirin Rai University of Warwick, UK
Marian Sawer Australian National University, Australia
Carole Spary University of York, UK
Michelle Taylor-Robinson Texas A&M University, USA
Alicia Turner Parliament of Australia


Updated:  2 January 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications