In 2013, Pelizzo and Stapenbhurst noted in their Parliamentary Oversight Tools that the effectiveness with which legislatures perform their oversight function depends on the oversight tools that are at the disposal of legislatures, on the presence/absence of relevant contextual conditions and on the political will to exercise legislative oversight effectively.
One issue that the book neglected to address was whether and to what extent gender balance and the presence of women in parliament affects the effectiveness with which legislatures perform their oversight function.
In a note eventually published on the Agora portal, Pelizzo reported that the effectiveness with which legislatures perform the oversight function, measured on the basis of their ability to contrain the power of the executive branch, was directly related to the presence of women in parliaments.
Parliament with a greater gender balance are more effective overseers.
More recently, Kinyondo, Pelizzo and Umar (2015) suggested that the effectiveness of legislative oversight should be assessed on the basis of a broader set of indicators which include the level of trust enjoyed by the legislature.
If we correlate the data on the level of trust in parliament made available by the Afrobarometer with the data on women in parliament made available by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, we find the trust of legislatures increases as the percentage of women in parliament increases. See Figure 1.
This evidence sustains the claim that a larger presence of women in parliament is highly beneficial. Parliaments with greater gender balance are more representative, are more responsive, are more effective in overseeing the executive and enjoy higher levels of trust.
The key policy implication for the international community is simple. Promoting gender balance in parliament is essential for increasing legislative capacity, performance and legitimacy.
Kinyondo, Abel Alfred, Riccardo Pelizzo, and Aminu Umar. "A functionalist theory of oversight." African Politics & Policy 1, no. 5 (2015): 1-25.
Pelizzo, Riccardo, and Frederick Stapenhurst. Parliamentary oversight tools: A comparative analysis. London. Routledge, 2012.