Hannah, C., et al. (2021) “Has the vision of a gender quota rule been realized for community-based water management committees in Kenya?”, World Development, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2020.105154.
Abstract: Persisting gender inequities across political, economic, and public life have motivated global agendas to increase women’s leadership at all levels of society. Gender quotas offer one solution to encourage equitable gender representation in public decision-making by specifying a target number of women to serve on publicly-elected bodies. For natural resource governance sectors, can gender quotas promote women’s representation and participation in leadership? In 2010, Kenya enacted a new Constitution that included an article mandating that no one gender should make up greater than two-thirds of the composition of public committees. This ‘two-thirds gender rule’ also applies to community-level governance of water resources through water user resource associations, which were formally recognized in 2002. We present a study of community-based water committee compliance with Kenya’s national two-thirds gender rule based on surveys, focus groups, and interviews with water committee members. We show that Kenya’s gender quota has been moderately successful in increasing women’s representation on water committees. However, men hold more higher-level leadership positions than women, who typically serve as treasurers. Although there were no statistically significant differences between men and women’s self-reported participation frequency in various committee activities, men contributed significantly more hours per week to committee activities, facilitated meetings more frequently, and were more willing to lead meetings. Based on this leadership gap, we examine the sufficiency of a gender quota to promote equal leadership opportunities for women. We find that realizing the vision of a gender quota is conditional on how individuals are represented on community-based environmental committees as well as how individuals participate in committee activities.