Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Gender Quotas, Law, and Nationhood in Kenya

This research investigates the effects of gender quotas in political representation in Kenya, a country that introduced the legislation through constitutional reform in 2010. Gender quotas have been used worldwide to address the underrepresentation of women in politics. Kenya's gender quota mandates that members of the same gender should not occupy more than two-thirds of elective and appointive positions. This stipulation has led political parties to nominate hundreds of women to join Kenya's 47 county assemblies. While these women have enabled county assemblies to comply with the constitution, they have also been criticized as allies of male-dominated parties. Drawing upon such emergent contestations, this study uses participant observation, interviews, and document and media analyses in two different Kenyan counties – Murang' a and Kwale – to show the effects of gender quotas beyond increasing women's representation. The study questions how gender quotas influence the political subjectivities of female politicians, gender relations in political institutions, and political discourses about gender and other kinds of difference. By engaging with scholarship on gender quotas, law, and nationhood, this research will seek to show how gender quotas introduce new forms of women's political authority that transform the relationship between the Kenyan nation and its female citizens.