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Women and political influence : evidence from local elections in the Philippines Tolentino, Charis Mae A.

Abstract

In terms of female political leadership, the Philippines is one of the most progressive countries in Asia. At the same time, these rankings and statistics focus largely on holding national office, which masks broader problems with women’s participation at the local level. For example, Labonne, Parsa, and Querubin (2016) find that the increasing number of women in Philippine national politics is largely driven by political dynasties, rather than an expansion of opportunities for women to participate in politics. As a result, while there are certainly many women in the legislature, these women tend to reflect the policy preferences and political platforms of their relatives and do not represent new voices in the decision-making process. In order to increase not only the number of women in politics but also the opportunity for new women to enter politics, it is important to understand the underlying dynamics driving gender and political influence at the local level, because it is the primary entry point for new, non-dynastic candidates in the political system. Using household-level data collected through a survey of 284 villages in 12 municipalities after the 2013 local elections in the Philippines, this analysis shows that women are less likely to be politically influential than men even at the local village level, an effect that is driven by gender differences in recognizing influence and in socioeconomic factors that affect the ability to participate in politics. This is important because there are gender differences in policy preferences and political views. From a policy standpoint, this thesis has three main contributions: 1) providing a methodology for identifying politically influential women at the local level; 2) analyzing the differences in policies and profiles between influential men and women; and 3) linking the determinants of political influence to policy recommendations for promoting and supporting these women to enable them to better participate in the political sphere. In order for women to have a voice in Philippine politics, it is not enough to have more women holding office on paper, but to ensure that women are given the same opportunities and avenues for participation in politics.

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