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The Law of Popular Participation (LPP) in Bolivia can be seen as the first significant attempt by policy makers in the region to mainstream gender into a national development initiative. The LPP seeks to devolve power and resources from the national to the local level. It is the first Bolivian law to be explicitly couched in gendered terms, and aims to increase the prominence of women in local political and development spheres. However, as I suggest in this article, in some respects the LPP has actually had the effect of displacing women from the very site of their traditional forms of political activism, at community level. As greater status, power, and resources have been devolved to politics at this level, men have become more prominent in this previously neglected, ‘feminised’ sphere. The article argues that, to some extent, the goal of mainstreaming gender into national development via the LPP was missed. Reasons include a lack of effective and systematic gendered analysis of the structural barriers to women’s participation, and the failure to support gender mainstreaming, and women’s participation, through capacity building at all levels.

This article is hosted by our co-publisher Taylor & Francis. For the full table of contents for this and previous issues of this journal, please visit the Gender and Development website.

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