This article questions whether affirmative action and training of women politicians leads to effective voice and change on issues that are relevant for women. The authors examine the case of Bangladesh, which has an affirmative action policy for women in government, and consider the barriers that women in politics continue to face, as well as the doors that are opened to them through their role in politics. The Bangladesh case shows that the advent of direct elections has established a direct link between the constituency and women members. This, in turn, has given women a stronger voice and more legitimacy as political actors. It also indicates that the way in which quota systems are implemented affects women’s capacity to act in local governments. Whether women are able to ‘act for’ other women depends on the support structures that exist for women, particularly the types of training and links with other actors, such as NGOs and women’s organisations that strengthen their knowledge and ability to negotiate resistance.