Abstract

This thesis examines how Mexican women political representatives are constituted through parliamentary language in the national Chamber of Deputies during a time when compulsory electoral gender quotas are introduced. Women’s political representation has increased considerably worldwide, due to gender quotas or laws requiring guaranteed seats for women. Mexico, which is the case studied in the dissertation, is one example where a significant growth in the number of elected female politicians have increased due to an electoral quota law. However, despite this development women parliamentarians are still reported to face obstacles when in office. Drawing on the ‘representative claims’ theory and critical discourse studies, this study seeks to understand how constructions of women hinder as well as provide opportunities for female politicians. The dissertation develops a theoretical and methodological framework that makes it possible to identify and analyze the representative claims and the subject positions that are constituted by these claims.

The empirical section analyzes records of debates in the Mexican parliaments from two periods, one before and one after the implementation of the 2002 electoral quota law, which is a major change in the Mexican political system. The construction of the three subject positions women as representatives, women as mothers and women as victims of men’s violence are detailed. Focusing on the constitutive aspects of representation, as the dissertation seeks to understand how the construction of these three subject positions affect what female politicians can say and do in parliament.

Previous research on women’s political representation has offered a rich understanding of descriptive, substantive, and symbolic representation. This study broadens the field further by introducing the discursive representation approach, which contribute to the understanding of the obstacles women politicians (still) meet. The study uncovers how Mexican women are situated in a political context dominated by men, in which they constantly have to negotiate their presence.