Women’s Political Pathways in Southeast Asia

Authored by: Nankyung Choi

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation
Region: South and Central Asia
Year: 2018
Citation: Nankyung Choi (2018) Women’s political pathways in Southeast Asia, International Feminist Journal of Politics, DOI: 10.1080/14616742.2018.1523683

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While Southeast Asian women’s socioeconomic status and formal political rights have improved significantly in recent decades, women remain under-represented in the region’s political institutions, especially at local levels of governance. Although interest in Southeast Asian women’s political representation has increased in recent years, our understanding of women’s experiences in their pursuit of elected office remains limited. Through a critical reading of the literature on women and politics and an examination of experiences in Southeast Asia, this article highlights gaps between normative theories and elite-biased empirical studies of women’s political advancement and the conditions, processes and outcomes observed across several Southeast Asian countries. Drawing on original ethnographic research in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, this article identifies three major pathways by which women in Southeast Asia have sought election and re-election to political office. In so doing, the article highlights the significance of understanding women’s varied experiences and suggests an agenda for further research.