Decentralization and the Gender Policy TrifectaMeg Rincker
In her probing book, Empowered by Design, Meg Rincker asks, Under what conditions will decentralization lead to women’s empowerment in countries around the globe? Using three case studies—the United Kingdom, Poland, and Pakistan—she shows how decentralization reforms create new institutional offices as power shifts from the national level to a meso-tier level, which is located between the national government and local municipalities. These shifts impact a country’s political, administrative, and fiscal reforms as well as women’s representation.
Rincker argues that this shift should be inclusive of women—or at least lead more women to participate in institutions—but this is not always the case. She indicates that three conditions, “the gender policy trifecta,” need to be met to achieve this: legislative gender quotas, women’s policy agencies, and gender-responsive budgeting at the level of governance in question. Rincker's innovative research uses original comparative data about what women want, quantitative cross-national analyses, and interviews with women’s organization leaders and politicians to show how cross-institutional policymaking can empower women.
Rincker’s fine-grained analysis makes a significant contribution to the study of representation and gendered implications of decentralization, as well as how representatives go about understanding and aggregating our diverse policy preferences.
"Empowered by Design is an important book; a must read for scholars and practitioners alike. Meg Rincker addresses masterfully a central question for the study of politics: does decentralization promote more democracy through women’s representation and empowerment? She conducts an empirically rich and innovative comparative mixed method study that will make lasting contributions to many different areas of scholarship. The outstanding empirical case analyses on Poland, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom represent the first systematic cross-national study of gender and decentralization."
—Amy G. Mazur, C.O. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Washington State University
" In Empowered by Design, Meg Rincker analyzes the conditions under which decentralization leads to greater quantities of women in politics as well as enhanced policy representation for women. Her book provides invaluable insight into three diverse contexts—the United Kingdom, Poland, and Pakistan. She collects original data providing evidence about the importance of what she deems the 'gender policy trifecta'—gender quotas, gender mainstreaming, and gender responsive budgeting—to promote women's political empowerment at all levels. Her work offers important policy implications and will be of interest to academics, students, and practitioners alike. Rincker combines methodological techniques including case studies, comparative analysis, and elite interviewing, making the scope of this book especially impressive. No less important is that she sustains her argument throughout the book and her writing style thoroughly engages the reader."
— Farida Jalalzai, Hannah Atkins Endowed Chair in the Department of Political Science, Oklahoma State University
"(A) fascinating analysis of women's representation... Rincker focuses on why decentralization—where national powers are shifted to lower levels of government—doesn't always lead to increased women's empowerment, even though scholars and international organizations view decentralization as a tool to promote equality.... Her research is well-written and highly accessible to undergraduate and graduate students as well as general readers, offering an outstanding example of how to conduct a comparative analysis.... Summing Up: Recommended."
"Empowered by Design is an authoritative multi-method, comparative study that represents the best of 'feminist slow science' and problem-driven research.... The design of the study...is innovative and scholarly, based on cutting edge methodology from policy analysis and multi-methods.... The country case chapters present rich assessments of decentralization reform and women's empowerment in each country that follow the same structure."
—International Feminist Journal of Politics
"Empowered by Design begins with a cross-national analysis of the relationships between political, administrative, and fiscal decentralization and the United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index. The writing is clear and accessible to both academic and nonacademic audiences.... Rincker’s important corrective to the conventional wisdom about the relationship between decentralization and gender equality, and her policy recommendations for engendering this process, her book also theoretically and empirically establishes region of residence as an important intersection with gender.... (A) welcome expansion of the literature on gender quotas, their implementation, and impact."
—Perspectives on Politics
"This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the effects of decentralization on women's equality and access to power, and furthermore, it contributes to our broader knowledge on the ability of institutions to change power dynamics among traditionally marginalized groups in society.... This is a thoughtful, well-researched book that successfully challenges a commonly embraced yet deeply flawed assumption about the effects of decentralization on women’s empowerment and is thus an asset to students, scholars, and advocates of women's equality."
—The Journal of Women, Politics, & Policy