Making Democracy Work for Women (Dissertation Project) Does increased political participation by women result in the improved representation of their preferences? I explore the prospects for women's substantive representation in Pakistan, and identify the limitations of gains from participatory actions by women, when enacted in the context of intra-household inequality, and when directed towards political actors with discriminatory attitudes. Khan, Sarah. 2017. “Personal is Political: Prospects for Women's Substantive Representation in Pakistan” Working Paper.
I develop and test a theory of how gender inequality within the household is reproduced in the political sphere, and undermines prospects for women's substantive representation. Drawing on an original face-to-face survey conducted in 800 households in the Faisalabad district of Pakistan, I show that men and women within the same household prioritize systematically different public goods and services based on the context-specific division of household labor. Using a novel behavioral measure of preference expression, I demonstrate that women attach a lower value to their distinctive preferences than men, and are less willing to communicate these preferences to political representatives. The gendered asymmetry in preference assertion has implications for democratic theories of representation: it suggests that the link between political participation and substantive representation may be undermined by gender inequality within the household.
Khan, Sarah. 2017. “What Women Want: Gender Gaps in Political Preferences" in Golder, Matt and Sona Golder (eds.) 2017. “Symposium: Women/Gender and Comparative Politics.”CP: Newsletter of the Comparative Politics Organized Section of the American Political Science Association 27(1): 42-49
Exercising Her Right: Civic and Political Action as Pathways for Increasing Women's Turnout in Pakistan (with Ali Cheema, Shandana Mohmand & Asad Liaqat) There is a large and persistent gender gap in voter registration and turnout in Pakistan, making for a heavily male-skewed electorate in all levels of Pakistani elections. This has implications both for the quality of democracy, and for women's substantive representation in politics. In this project, we use qualitative methods and a large-N survey to identify the binding constraints on electoral forms of participation by women . We use findings from this work to design a field experiment which will be implemented in partnership with civil society organizations and political actors in the lead-up to the 2018 general elections in Pakistan. Our study will provide causal evidence on two open questions related to the nature of women's political mobilization in Pakistan, which are also pertinent for other developing democracies with similar patterns of inequality in political participation:
Are mobilization campaigns run by civic non-partisan actors more or less effective than campaigns run by partisan political actors in encouraging women to participate as voters? Are there additional gains from coordinated efforts by both types of actors?
Are campaigns that involve men along with women more effective than campaigns that exclusively target women in encouraging women to participate as voters?
This project is part of Action for Empowerment and Accountability: an international research program exploring how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict-prone, and violent settings, with a focus on Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
Safe Cities: Measuring and Preventing Violence Against Women in Urban Slums of India (with Macartan Humphreys and Summer Lindsey) Despite recent legal advances and institutional proliferation around the issue of violence against women in South Asia, the problem remains ubiquitous. Through a field experiment conducted in 250 slums in Madhya Pradesh, India, we analyze the effectiveness of city government led efforts to change norms and behavior around domestic and public forms of violence against women. While previous research on violence against women in India focuses on domestic violence in largely rural settings, our work contributes important knowledge on patterns of domestic and public violence in urban contexts, and the willingness of citizens to engage the state on these different forms of violence.
Khan, Sarah, Summer Lindsey and Macartan Humphreys. 2016. "(When) Can Governments Change Norms around Violence Against Women" Working Paper
This paper studies the conditions under which norm-based interventions can be effective in reducing levels of violence against women.Advocates of norms-based interventions have drawn on models in which space for norm change arises from a gap between private values and beliefs about the values of others. In such settings, interventions that re-calibrate people's beliefs about the values of others opens up the possibility of society-wide changes in behavior. Assessing whether these conditions are met is difficult, however. We introduce a new set of measures to assess the differences between privately held attitudes, and beliefs about the attitudes of others. Drawing on survey data collected from 7000 respondents in 250 slums in India, we find relatively high levels of tolerance for violence, but mixed support for the view that social beliefs are out of sync with privately held attitudes. From an impact evaluation of a randomized government intervention that builds on this model to produce change, we find little evidence of effects across a range of attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. We find some limited evidence for greater program effects in areas where individual beliefs about others’ values are out of sync with privately held values.