Decentralization has sometimes been presented as a magic bullet for both development and democracy. Is successful decentralization making government more accessible, accountable, and responsive to women.
Over the last two decades, decentralization has been changing government around the globe.
Reforms have granted subnational authorities such as municipalities more autonomy and responsibility in areas that include water and sanitation, health, education, and local economic development. Often, these reforms are linked to new forms of political representation and participation — local elections, participatory budgeting, village development committees, and citizen oversight mechanisms — intended to make local government more accessible, accountable, and responsive.
Decentralization has sometimes been presented as a magic bullet for both development and democracy. Since nearly everyone, from world leaders to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to donors, agrees that development and democracy both fail unless women are included on an equal footing with men, successful decentralization should make government more accessible, accountable, and responsive to women.
But does it? Since 2004, 13 research teams in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America, supported by theWomen’s Rights and Citizenship program of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), have been exploring this question.
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