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Title: Strength in Numbers: How Women's Groups Close India's Political Gender Gap

In India, there persists a striking gender gap in political participation. Women's political participation is important both on normative grounds of inclusion and because when women participate, politics changes. I develop a theoretical model of women's political behavior, arguing that women's lack of political participation is the result of the structure of women's political networks in patriarchal societies. I then evaluate the effect of expanding women's networks by leveraging a natural experiment that created as‐if random variation in access to women‐only credit groups. Participation in these groups had a significant and substantial impact on women's political participation—women's attendance at public meetings doubled. I provide suggestive evidence of three mechanisms underlying this effect: (1) larger networks, (2) increased capacity for collective action within networks, and (3) development of civic skills. These findings contribute to our understanding of how networks affect political behavior and underlie gendered inequalities in political participation.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
American Journal of Political Science
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 390-410
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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