Women in Politics in Asia: Rethinking participation, (under)representation and exclusion (Panel 2)

Dr Tomoko Seto, Dr Sally McLaren, Ms Sarah Hewitt, A/Prof. Tanya Jakimow

1Yonsei University, Korea, 2UNSW Sydney, Australia, 3Monash University, Australia, 4Australian National University, Australia

Chair: Tanya Jakimow


Despite policies and initiatives to address women’s political under-representation, the problem remains entrenched in Asia, as in other parts of the world. Inequalities exist in the number of women elected or appointed at all levels from local governance to national legislatures, as well as the power they wield in auxiliary bodies such as political parties, parastatal agencies or government bureaucracies. Women who attain some degree of political power are often ‘stuck’: stuck at the grassroots, unable to advance political careers, or else stuck in high-level politics unable to generate mass support at the grassroots. When women are elected, descriptive representation does not necessarily translate into substantive representation, in which policy and legislation is responsive to women’s diverse needs and interests.

Significant scholarly work has been devoted to addressing women’s political under-representation globally. Yet theories, concepts and analytical frames to understand this enduring problem continue to be overwhelmingly drawn from the experiences and conditions of Euro-America; these are applied to Asia, but rarely derived from Asia. Together the papers in this panel seek to think the problem anew by bringing together diverse research studies examining women in politics in countries and regions of Asia.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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