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Abstract

This article provides a multidisciplinary overview and synthesis of recent scholarship on strategies to increase women’s civic and political participation in the developing world. Using a systematic method for meta-analysis, we identify points of consensus in the literature as well as debates and gaps where future research on strengthening women’s participation is needed. Strategies to increase women's civic and political participation that emerge in the literature include: establishing quotas to enhance women's representation; using social media platforms to mobilize women and amplify their voices; implementing policies and programs that target women as participants or beneficiaries; and mobilizing women through their intersecting identities. We discuss the opportunities inherent in these strategies, as well as their limits. A secondary goal of this article is to provide a useful guide to recent English language literature on women’s civic and political participation for an international women's studies audience. The article includes a link to our Rapid Knowledge Map (RKM, a searchable excel file) that summarizes information about the over 400 studies that we reviewed using an adapted version of the Cochrane method. We hope this resource will be of use to other scholars.

Note on the Author

Sharon F. Lean is Associate Professor and Graduate Director in the Department of Political Science at Wayne State University. Her current research examines the role of civic associations and autonomous public agencies of the state in advancing democratic governance in Latin America. She is the author of Civil Society and Electoral Accountability in Latin America (Palgrave Macmillan 2012).

Stine Eckert is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Wayne State University. Her research focuses on the intersection of media, gender, and minorities as well as the democratic potential of new media and counter-publics. She is co-PI on the NSF ADVANCE grant WSU-GEARS (Gender Equity Advances Retention in STEM).

Kyu-Nahm Jun is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Director of the Master of Public Administration program at Wayne State University. Her current research focuses on examining public participation and democratic governance in cities amidst fiscal crisis and austerity.

Nicole Gerring, Ph.D. is the Project Director for Wayne State University's GEARS program, a National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant. In 2020 she was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, studying the role of women's civil society in promoting sustainable peace.

Matthew Lacouture is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Wayne State University. His dissertation, supported by a Fulbright Grant, utilizes comparative and interview-based methods to analyze workers’ and popular protest movements in Jordan. His research has been published in the International Review of Social History.

Juan Liu is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Columbus State University. Her research explores how new and legacy media affect individuals’ political participation and the strategic use of social media in public relations campaigns. Her research has been published in New Media & Society and Mass Communication and Society.

Amanda Lauren Walter is a Lecturer of History at Towson University. Her research focuses on 20th century U.S. women's history and labor history. Her research has been published in the Journal of Labor and Society and Labour History.

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