Status, Class, and Creed: The Different Logics of Policy Change on Women's Rights


Mala Htun, Associate Professor of Political Science, The New School for Social Research, Eugene Lang College

Professor Htun will discuss her paper “When and Why Do Governments Promote Gender Equality? Violence Against Women, Reproductive Rights, and Work-Family Issues in Cross-National Perspective.”  This paper explores policies on violence against women, abortion, and parental leave across 71 countries. Based on a concept of gender as an institution, Professor Htun and her co-authors argue that these policies promoting gender equality challenge historical patterns of state-society interaction concerning the organization of the economy, the respective roles of the state, religion, and cultural groups, and the authority of the state to protect citizen rights. Different policies pose different challenges however gender equality is not one issue but many. Each policy involves a distinctive logic of change. The data analysis reveals that models explaining variation on violence against women do not apply to variation on abortion or parental leave, for example. The role of actors like women’s movements and religious organizations is different and the weight of contextual factors (such as degree of democracy or fertility) also varies.
Mala Htun is associate professor of political science at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College. She is the author of Sex and the State: Abortion, Divorce, and the Family under Latin American Dictatorships and Democracies (Cambridge University Press, 2003) and her work has appeared in Perspectives on Politics, Latin American Research Review, and Politics and Gender, among other journals and edited volumes. She is currently writing two books: one analyzes the representation of women and ethnic and racial minorities in Latin America and worldwide and the other explains when and why governments promote women’s rights. Her article, “Is Gender Like Ethnicity? The Political Representation of Identity Groups” won the Heinz Eulau award from the American Political Science Association in 2005 and she has been supported by grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and National Security Education Program. A former fellow of the Kellogg Institute of the University of Notre Dame and the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard, she holds a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard and a A.B. in international relations from Stanford. In 2006-07, she was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in Japan and a visiting fellow at the Institute of Social Science at the University of Tokyo.
Location: Allison Dining Room, Taubman building, 5th floor

* Lunch Provided