Women’s descriptive representation in the Riigikogu
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The research on women’s political representation has emphasised the role of political, structural and cultural factors in hindering women’s access to legislative office. The perceived obstacles can be multifaceted, ranging from electoral systems and party ideology to the socio-economic situation or the prevalent traditional gender norms in a society. This thesis researches the descriptive representation in the Riigikogu, by analysing the conducted interviews with women currently in the parliament. Three main research questions were posed in this research: what are the perceived obstacles that prevent women from entering the political sphere; what do female elected representatives feel can be done to change this and whether female members of the parliament believe that they represent women’s interests. The findings show that, most respondents do not believe that they represent women’s interests. Furthermore, three types of obstacles – political, cultural and individual – are identified that hinder women’s advancement in politics. Finally, two types of strategies are put forward – formal and non-formal – to combat inequality in the political sphere.