Repression of Women’s Rights: A Note on Islamic Culture and Oil Rents


Rørbaek, Lasse Lykke. 2013. “Repression of Women’s Rights: A Note on Islamic Culture and Oil Rents.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Danish Political Science Association, Vejle, October 24-25. 

Author: Lasse Lykke Rørbaek


In recent studies, Michael L. Ross states that oil rents and not Islamic culture is to blame for women’s slow progress toward gender equality in the Muslim world. He tests and confirms this relationship concerning female labor force participation and female representation in parliament. Ross’ conclusion has, however, been criticized for neglecting the pre-existing and institutionalized role of “family law” derived from Sharia, which continuously impedes the progress of women’s human rights in Muslim countries. In this study, I retest Ross’ argument on three aggregate indicators of women’s political, economic, and social rights. Based on data from 163 countries, I conclude – contrary to Ross – that Islamic culture is consistently associated with repression of women’s rights in the 21th century, and not only in the Middle East and North Africa.

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Livelihoods, Political Participation, Religion, Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2013

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