Does Women’s Presence Change Legislative Behavior? Evidence from Argentina, 1983–2007

Mala Htun, Marina Lacalle, Juan Pablo Micozzi


In scores of countries, the adoption of gender quotas has boosted the numbers of women elected to national legislatures. How does the growing presence of women affect legislative behavior regarding women’s rights? Using an original dataset of all the bills submitted to the Argentine Congress between 1983 and 2007, we analyze the relationship between women’s presence in Congress and the introduction and approval of bills related to women’s rights. Our dataset allows us to compare three periods with varying levels of women’s presence in both legislative chambers (the first without quotas, the second with a quota in one chamber, and the third with full quota implementation in both chambers). Our results confirm the necessity of distinguishing between the process of legislative behavior and its outcome. We show that many more women’s rights bills were introduced when women held a greater share of seats in both chambers. However, the approval rates of these bills actually declined. Despite their greater presence, women continue to be marginalized in the legislature and to suffer reduced political efficacy.

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