Women, Power, and Property: The Paradox of Gender Equality Laws in India

How effective are quotas for women in government? To what extent do such quotas disrupt social, political, and economic hierarchies?
In her new book Women, Power, and Property, Rachel E. Brulé – Assistant Professor of Global Development Policy at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University – attempts to explain the relationship between political representation, backlash, and economic empowerment within the context of India, the world’s largest democracy. Brulé’s findings show that women in government can catalyze access to fundamental economic rights to property, and women in politics have the power to support constituent rights at critical junctures, such as marriage negotiations. Yet there is a paradox: quotas are essential for enforcement of rights, but they generate backlash against women who gain rights without bargaining leverage. In this seminar, Rachel Brulé along with Akshay Mangla of the Said Business School and Maya Tudor of the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, discuss how well-designed quotas can operate as a crucial tool to foster equality and benefit the women they are meant to empower.