Women's Access to Politics and Peaceful States


Regan, Patrick, and Aida Pakeviciute. 2003. “Women's Access to Politics and Peaceful States.” Journal of Peace Research 40 (3): 287-302.

Authors: Patrick Regan, Aida Pakeviciute


We examine the relationship between women in society and the use of force by the state in the international arena. Our arguments build on a conception of power relationships found in gender studies and feminist theories, and focus on how the internal distribution of political power at a societal level (as opposed to a state level) will influence the willingness of the ruling elite to engage in militarized interstate disputes and war. That is, we explore the extent to which fertility rates directly and indirectly – through women’s employment and political office – are associated with the use of force by a state. We draw on public opinion literature which shows that women’s attitude toward the use of force differs from those of men to argue that the more women who have access to the political process the more constrained will be the state in its use of force. The results of our analysis demonstrate that at the dyadic level, contiguous pairs of countries with low birth rates are less likely to go to war, while, more generally, the lower the birth rates the less likely is a country to become engaged in the more violent of militarized disputes. Our results suggest that policies to promote family planning might be one effective form of managing the amount of interstate violence.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Political Participation, Violence

Year: 2003

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