This article offers some reflections on how the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) theme of women and decision-making power came to be translated into a set of policy directions, and what their implementation suggests in terms of their potential to challenge power hierarchies.
The article draws on work from the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment programme on voice and constituency building. The article argues that the policy focus of the BPfA, after the introduction of MDG 3 in particular, became one of redressing gender disparities in representation in legislatures. Twenty years later, we are at a critical juncture at which we need to ask ourselves whether we need to go beyond numbers in parliament as a proxy for political empowerment, and probe into: what kind of politics, through which pathways, in relation to whom, to achieve what?
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 46.4 (2015) Beyond Tinkering with the System: Rethinking Gender, Power and Politics