«No Democratic Transition Without Women’s Rights: A Global Sequence Analysis 1900-2012 Yi-ting Wang, Patrik Lindenfors, Aksel Sundström, Fredrik ...»
No Democratic Transition Without
Women’s Rights: A Global Sequence
Yi-ting Wang, Patrik Lindenfors, Aksel
Sundström, Fredrik Jansson and
Stafan I. Lindberg
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No Democratic Transition Without Women’s Rights:
A Global Sequence Analysis 1900–2012∗ Yi-ting Wang Assistant Professor National Cheng Kung University Patrik Lindenfors Associate Professor Stockholm University Aksel Sundström PhD Candidate University of Gothenburg Fredrik Jansson Postdoctoral Researcher Institute for Analytical Sociology Linköping University Staffan I. Lindberg Professor of Political Science Director, V-Dem Institute University of Gothenburg * This research project was supported by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Grant M13-0559:1, PI: Staffan I. Lindberg, V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg, Sweden; by Swedish Research Council, 2013.0166, PI: Staffan I.
Lindberg, V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg, Sweden and Jan Teorell, Department of Political Science, Lund University, Sweden; by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation to Wallenberg Academy Fellow Staffan I.
Lindberg, V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg, Sweden; by University of Gothenburg, Grant E 2013/43.
Abstract What determines countries’ successful transition to democracy? Research has focused on socioeconomic and institutional factors, yet the assumption that political liberalization has to precede democratization has not been systematically examined. We explore the impacts of granting civil rights in authoritarian regimes and especially the gendered aspect of this process.
We argue that both men’s and women’s liberal rights are essential conditions for democratization to take place: giving both men and women rights reduce an inequality that affects half of the population, thus increasing the costs of repression for authoritarian rulers, and enabling the formation of women’s movements – historically important as a spark of protests in initial phases of democratization. We test this argument empirically using data that cover 160 countries over the years 1900–2012 and contain more nuanced measures than commonly used. Through sequence analysis we obtain results suggesting that liberal rights for both men and women enhance civil society organizations, and then lead to electoral democracy. The results suggest that influential modernization writings – stressing the role of economic development in democratization processes – may partly have been misinformed in their blindness for gender.
The reported pattern may be at least part of the explanation of the ‘Arab spring’ failures.
“The majority of the mainstream democratization literature has remained gender blind, with very little to say about the participation of women in transitions to democracy or the gendered nature of those processes” (Waylen 2003, p. 157)
1. Introduction Is the improvement of women’s civil rights a necessary condition for countries to democratize?
There are some early studies discussing the evolution of citizen rights and their sequence. For instance, Marshall’s (1950) seminal work suggested that legal rights come first and, followed by political and social rights, that participatory rights were the final stage of this sequence (see also Janosky 1998). The literature has also long been pointing out the distinction between political liberalization and democratization, and how the process of liberalization tends to precede a democratic transition (Linz and Stepan 1996, Przeworski 1991). Political liberalization includes the elimination or reduction of state repression and extension of civil liberties. It is believed that once authoritarian rulers ease their control over citizens, citizens have more opportunities to challenge existing political leaders and institutions. With liberal rights, citizens have a stronger standing in the public sphere and are better able to organize in political movements to demand democratic rights, and hence improving the overall participatory environment and increasing the cost of repression for authoritarian rulers.
However, as Davenport (2007) has pointed out, these insights have not been systematically examined; despite the conceptual importance of distinguishing between the two processes, they are seldom operationalized separately in the quantitative analysis. Does the entitlement of civil rights always precede the establishment of competitive elections for political leaders and thus constitute a precondition for democratization? One reason that this question has not yet been thoroughly investigated is that some scholars believe that the protection of liberal rights is an aspect of democracy (Beetham 1999). The two processes tend to be highly correlated and temporally close to each other, and therefore the relationship between them is difficult to explore.
Another deficiency in the literature is that when stressing the importance of civil rights, research has remained gender blind and has not addressed that the development of civil rights for women tends to lag behind the rights of men. It is not clear if it is necessary to achieve some degree of gender equality with regard to civil rights before democratization. However, the connections between the rights of women and democratic outcomes have been discussed in early works. For instance, Tocqueville (1835) argued that the expanded educational opportunity for women goes along with a society more receptive to democracy. Mill (1869) proposed that without the right to vote, women would in fact not develop the skills of active citizens.
Case study evidence suggests that women have been among the first to speak up against authoritarian rule in Latin American countries such as Argentina, Chile and Brazil (Waylen 1994), in Sub-Saharan African countries (Tripp 2001) as well as in some countries in the Middle East and North Africa (Arat 1994, Moghadam 2008). Women’s organizations, often being outsiders of conventional politics, have in numerous settings been operating under the radar of authoritarian regimes oppressing established opposition parties and extending the space allotted for civil society organizations, thus creating a foundation for protests in the initial phases of transition (Arat 1994, Waylen 2007). Based on samples that mostly span across the past twentyfive years, quantitative studies also identified that more equal distribution of education between women and men (Barro 1999, Fish 2002, Sanborn and Thyne 2013), female labor force participation (Wyndow et al. 2013), and the conception of gender equality as a part of broader cultural changes (Inglehart et al. 2002), are factors that contribute to democratization.
There are two literatures on democratization that bolster our expectations about these connections. On the one hand, a macro-level literature that focuses on structural factors lends us to reason that the “costs of repression” is increased as half of the population increasingly gain the rights to move, discuss and hold material and immaterial assets. On the other hand, a literature with a micro-level focus informs our argument that such rights have in fact been crucial for enabling the organization of women’s movements that in a range of countries have initiated protests that led to transitions. By exploring the effects of empowerment of men and women separately, and examining the consequences on regime changes when women’s rights lag behind, our argument departs from the current transition literature. More specifically, we hypothesize that if women are denied basic liberties and rights, then they will have a lower standing on the labor market and in the public sphere. Once women enter the workforce, they have an increasing demand for redistribution and public goods provision, such as low-cost daycare, which are linked to a political regime more responsive to the needs of its people. In addition, only when women have basic liberties and rights are they able to develop the skills required to organize movements that oppose authoritarian rule. Parallel to the argument holding that economic inequality is a determinant for democratization (cf. Lipset 1959, Acemoglu and Robinson 2006), we believe that this inequality in civil liberties and rights between men and women – such as whether or not women are free to move, discuss and to hold material and immaterial assets – will affect women’s demands for redistribution and their organizational capacity, and thus the costs of repression.
We identify three lacunas in the scope of the current research: first, the often-mentioned assumption that political liberalization has to precede democratization has not been systematically examined. Second, there is a literature on democratization that seldom has focused on whether or not the rights of women are an important prerequisite for successful transition to take place. Third, there is a literature on gender and politics that has focused on democratization, yet mostly on the impact of such processes on gendered outcomes, such as women’s political representation and the effectiveness of women’s movements (Paxton et al. 2006, Viterna and Fallon 2008, Paxton et al. 2010, Viterna et al. 2010, Fallon et al. 2012), but that has not explored women’s rights as a determinant for successful democratization. Moreover, the current state of research has some limitations in methods. One the one hand, the few qualitative case studies that analyze women’s organizations in liberation processes focus on single countries and over a limited period of time. On the other hand, the existing quantitative studies that examine the relationship between gendered indicators and outcomes in democratization only study the most recent decades and use regression frameworks whereby it is difficult to identify the temporal relationship between variables and deal with endogeneity issues.
Our approach aims to remedy some of these problems. We utilize a newly collected dataset on both men’s and women’s rights, and measures of countries’ transitions to democracy that, covering more than 160 countries for the years 1900 to 2012, are more detailed than commonly used. Moreover, we use a novel sequencing method that focuses on investigating the temporal process of events. In doing so, we are able to more systematically theorize and examine the relationships between liberal rights in various dimensions and democratic transitions.
The results from this analysis suggest that to gain electoral democracy a country first needs to give liberal rights to both women and men. We demonstrate that the improvement of civil rights is indeed a necessary condition for democratic transition to take place. In addition, we point out the importance of women’s rights, and show that civil rights of both genders are crucial: only when both men and women have enjoyed certain levels of civil liberties, leading to increased civic skills in the population and a strengthening of civil society organizations, are regime changes more likely to occur.
These findings challenge influential thinking stemming from modernization theory, which holds that “dictatorships die as countries ruled by them become economically developed” (Przeworski and Limongi 1997, p. 156). In contesting this perspective, we agree with Waylen in stating that “any analysis of democratization that fails to incorporate a gendered perspective – that ignores the actions and impact of certain groups – will be flawed” (1994, p. 327). Economic development leads to democratization only if the process brings about the enhancement of both men’s and women’s civil liberties. We thus propose that future research on democratization and regime transitions would benefit from increasingly taking gendered aspects into account.
The paper proceeds as follows: in the following section, we discuss theories linking civil liberties and democratic transitions, with a focus on the importance of women’s rights. Next, we describe the sequence analysis approach, and specify data and measures utilized in this paper. We then present the empirical results. We conclude by outlining the implications of these findings and discuss the limitations and future extensions of the study.
2. Women’s Rights and Democratization In explicating our theoretical expectations we build on two types of reasoning in the scholarship on democratization, one focused on 1) changes in class power and demands for redistribution, and another on 2) mass behavior and participatory civil society.
2.1. A Macro-Level Approach: Liberal Rights and the Cost of Repression Influential democratization scholars have discussed the role of economic development, the middle class, and economic distribution in transitions. Lipset (1959) states that there are social prerequisites for the rise and persistence of democracy, such as the affluence and prosperity of a country. Accordingly, economic development tends to reduce income inequalities and create a large middle class who may act as a political force to induce democratic reforms. We use theories on how income inequality affects democratization to craft a gendered version of this structural reasoning.