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Gender Quotas and Women's Substantive Representation: Lessons from Argentina
Unformatted Document Text:  10 encouraging female party members to seek nominations, monitoring parties‟ compliance with placement mandates, and shaming parties who shirked their obligations (Chama 2001). Second, many of the arguments employed by quota proponents focused on the need for women‟s voices in politics. The slogan adopted by the Network of Political Women was: “With few women in politics, it‟s the women who change. With many women in politics, politics change” (Marx, Borner and Caminotti 2007, 61). During the debate in the Chamber of Deputies, some advocates did identify quotas as correctives for gender discrimination. Other advocates pointed to women‟s “difference,” arguing that women would bring distinct perspectives and issues to politics. Three deputies in particular used this consequentialist argument. Gabriela González Gass explained that while women‟s views have been historically “condemned to the private sphere,” women now find themselves able “to contribute to the construction of a new discourse, they can elaborate new policies, attend to the daily realities of the people, and produce a renovation in leadership” (cited in Perceval 2001). Another, María Martín de Nardo, spoke of women‟s “nourishing presence” and their “distinct ways of seeing.” Likewise, Matilda Quarracino argued that “whether by culture, biology, or education, women are more sensitive to the real needs, daily and concrete, of the people” (Ibid.). Two female politicians present during the debate—deputy Irma Roy and senator and co-author of the Ley de Cupos Liliana Gurdulich—recalled the “enormous energy and sense of possibility that filled the chamber”: the women were, Gurdulich reflected, “initiating a moment of great change in Argentina.” 9 By appealing to women‟s difference and by proclaiming a moment of change, female quota proponents created a mandate for female legislators to be substantive representatives. Interviews with female legislators reveal the strength of mandates. One deputy said that her obligation to represent women derives from women‟s collective struggles, beginning with the suffrage movement, so that she could occupy elected office. She added that “if it weren‟t for the quota law, I may not have been in the second spot on the list.” 10 Other interviewees made similar statements, attributing their election to quota campaigners‟ opening of political spaces for women. 11 In describing her commitment to women‟s issues, one legislator referenced the arguments used by quota advocates during the campaign: because the quota pioneers had emphasized equality, social justice (specifically the feminization of poverty), and women‟s historical marginalization, she feels that female legislators ought to address these issues. 12 While interviewees acknowledged that not all women perceive this connection, one activist (and former local officeholder) did explain that the quota campaign strengthened the relationship between the women‟s movement and political women, and that the congress has expanded to include record numbers of activist women. 13 One such militant, a senator known for her feminist advocacy, likewise noted that the quota campaign taught political women and movement activists to work together. She explained that “we constructed a strategic solidarity, activism, and discourse”; adding that women‟s large-scale mobilization during the quota campaign created high expectations about the impact women would have in congress. 14 In other words, the quota campaign generated mandates, now felt by many female politicians elected under quotas. Among the female legislators we interviewed, we found widespread agreement that the quota law facilitated the proliferation of women‟s themes on the legislative agenda. A female senator noted that “the arrival of thirty percent women meant that the senate began to debate themes that hadn‟t been discussed before.” 15 Interviewees also pointed to concrete issues: a senator noted

Authors: Franceschet, Susan. and Piscopo, Jennifer.
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10
encouraging female party members to seek nominations, monitoring parties‟ compliance with
placement mandates, and shaming parties who shirked their obligations (Chama 2001).

Second, many of the arguments employed by quota proponents focused on the need for women‟s
voices in politics. The slogan adopted by the Network of Political Women was: “With few
women in politics, it‟s the women who change. With many women in politics, politics change”
(Marx, Borner and Caminotti 2007, 61). During the debate in the Chamber of Deputies, some
advocates did identify quotas as correctives for gender discrimination. Other advocates pointed
to women‟s “difference,” arguing that women would bring distinct perspectives and issues to
politics. Three deputies in particular used this consequentialist argument. Gabriela González
Gass explained that while women‟s views have been historically “condemned to the private
sphere,” women now find themselves able “to contribute to the construction of a new discourse,
they can elaborate new policies, attend to the daily realities of the people, and produce a
renovation in leadership” (cited in Perceval 2001). Another, María Martín de Nardo, spoke of
women‟s “nourishing presence” and their “distinct ways of seeing.” Likewise, Matilda
Quarracino argued that “whether by culture, biology, or education, women are more sensitive to
the real needs, daily and concrete, of the people” (Ibid.). Two female politicians present during
the debate—deputy Irma Roy and senator and co-author of the Ley de Cupos Liliana
Gurdulich—recalled the “enormous energy and sense of possibility that filled the chamber”: the
women were, Gurdulich reflected, “initiating a moment of great change in Argentina.”
9
By
appealing to women‟s difference and by proclaiming a moment of change, female quota
proponents created a mandate for female legislators to be substantive representatives.

Interviews with female legislators reveal the strength of mandates. One deputy said that her
obligation to represent women derives from women‟s collective struggles, beginning with the
suffrage movement, so that she could occupy elected office. She added that “if it weren‟t for the
quota law, I may not have been in the second spot on the list.”
10
Other interviewees made
similar statements, attributing their election to quota campaigners‟ opening of political spaces for
women.
11
In describing her commitment to women‟s issues, one legislator referenced the
arguments used by quota advocates during the campaign: because the quota pioneers had
emphasized equality, social justice (specifically the feminization of poverty), and women‟s
historical marginalization, she feels that female legislators ought to address these issues.
12
While interviewees acknowledged that not all women perceive this connection, one activist (and
former local officeholder) did explain that the quota campaign strengthened the relationship
between the women‟s movement and political women, and that the congress has expanded to
include record numbers of activist women.
13
One such militant, a senator known for her feminist
advocacy, likewise noted that the quota campaign taught political women and movement
activists to work together. She explained that “we constructed a strategic solidarity, activism,
and discourse”; adding that women‟s large-scale mobilization during the quota campaign created
high expectations about the impact women would have in congress.
14
In other words, the quota
campaign generated mandates, now felt by many female politicians elected under quotas.

Among the female legislators we interviewed, we found widespread agreement that the quota
law facilitated the proliferation of women‟s themes on the legislative agenda. A female senator
noted that “the arrival of thirty percent women meant that the senate began to debate themes that
hadn‟t been discussed before.”
15
Interviewees also pointed to concrete issues: a senator noted


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