When policy formulation and implementation follow cues from ongoing shifts in markets and social norms, convergence and alignment can fuel sustainable change. But such “incremental” reforms may not be enough to overcome the path dependence and institutional rigidities that result in persistent gender inequality. Bold government action with “transformative” reforms can alter social dynamics and move countries and societies to a more equitable equilibrium. In these circumstances, policy implementation and enforcement must follow through to produce sustainable behavioral changes.
Political economy structures and dynamics can make the difference between a well-designed and sustainable intervention that mobilizes support and a failed initiative that alienates crucial constituencies. For instance, redistributing political power to women through parliamentary quotas may increase women’s voice but be considered a threat by castes, ethnic minorities, or religious interest groups that stand to lose some of their limited influence.