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Politics and International Relations (PIR): Events


Feminist Democratic Representation: Women’s Group Representation and Institutional (Re)design – workshop

Feminist Democratic Representation: Women’s Group Representation and Institutional (Re)design – workshop
Speaker: Sarah Childs # Birkbeck, University of London
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Date and Time
25th Nov 2019 14:00 - 25th Nov 2019 17:00
Conference Room 2.15, Chrystal Macmillan Building

The presentation introduces our forthcoming book Feminist Democratic Representation which re-makes the case for women’s group representation in politics in the face of their ongoing poverty of representation. In this we argue against the tendency to disaggregate the concept of representation in a Pitkinian fashion (1967). For us, political representation is better understood as indivisible: a mélange of its many overlapping and connected dimensions. We further contend that to make political institutions more gender just they are going to need to enable the presence of ideologically and intersectionally diverse women, the identification of women’s different interests, and recognize that some women’s interests will be prioritized over others in the democratic move from the plural to the singular. Women’s group representation should be perceived and importantly (re)designed as a democratic process that enacts feminist principles in its advocacy, deliberation and accountability moments, in order to generate positive representational effects ‘in the round’. Specifically, we identify (i) a new set of political actors, self-representatives of women who are to be made formally present in our parliaments; and (ii) twin augmentations - group advocacy and account giving. The self-representatives stand and act for differently affected groups of women, voicing their interests in front of elected representatives as part of the formal legislative process, incentivizing elected representatives to know and care more about women’s issues and interests, and ensuring that elected representatives provide explanations and justifications for their decisions. The ideal representational effects of Feminist Democratic Representation are broader then than descriptive and substantive. They include effects relating to affinity, trust, legitimacy, symbolism, emotions and affect; stronger representative relationships amongst women in society, greater support from women for the procedures, institutions and substantive outputs of representative politics, and at a higher level, to the idea of representative democracy.