Are Participatory Institutions Inclusive?

Do historically disempowered populations participate equally in participatory budgeting processes in the developing world? Although there is a very large literature on participatory institutions, there is very little written about the participation of women and minority groups in these forums. My new article titled “Barriers to Participation: Exploring Gender in Peru’s Participatory Budget Process” explores this issue by documenting women’s participation in the participatory budget in Peru. I argue that women’s participation could be a proxy indicator for how ‘participatory’ these forums are in countries that are struggling to improve transparency and accountability in subnational politics. If women are excluded, we might expect other historically marginalized groups to be as well, depending on the nature of the process. The article confirms the work of those who express concerns that participatory institutions potentially reinforce power hierarchies in their communities. It also provides concrete recommendations regarding how to incorporate new actors, especially women, into the process more effectively.

When writing this article, I realized that much more work is needed to fully understand this issue. In future work, I plan to gather additional data to expand this under-analyzed issue.

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