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Democracy / Democratization

The Brilliant, Monochromatic Red of Climate Leviathan


Asher, Kiran. 2019. “The Brilliant, Monochromatic Red of Climate Leviathan.” Rethinking Marxism 32 (4): 442-50.

Author: Kiran Asher


Climate Leviathan argues that to address the climate crisis we must extend the critique of capitalism and that to imagine a just world we need radically open democracy. This reviewer shares the book’s deep anticapitalist politics and Gramscian critique of climate science, but its lack of engagement with feminist, anticolonial, and other critical theories and philosophies of difference undermines its theoretical and political possibilities. Yet the book must be widely and critically read, and its shortcomings must be supplemented to make a world with space for both the diversity of humankind and also for companion and other species.

Keywords: climate crisis, critical theory, feminism, planetary sovereignity, radical democracy

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Democracy / Democratization, Economies, Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms

Year: 2019

Women's Leadership in Renewable Transformation, Energy Justice and Energy Democracy: Redistributing Power


Allen, Elizabeth, Hannah Lyons, and Jennie C. Stephens. 2019. “Women’s Leadership in Renewable Transformation, Energy Justice and Energy Democracy: Redistributing Power.” Energy Research & Social Science 57 (November). doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2019.101233.

Authors: Elizabeth Allen, Hannah Lyons, Jennie C. Stephens


As women take on more leadership roles in the United States advancing social and political change, analysis of women’s contributions to the transformation occurring within the energy sector is critically important. Grassroots movements focused on energy justice and energy democracy focus on: (1) resisting the power of large multinational fossil fuel energy companies that exacerbate inequities and disparities in energy, (2) reclaiming the energy sector with more community and public control to redisitrbute benefits and risks, and (3) restructuring the energy sector to prioritize equity and justice with community ownership and distributed governance. This research analyzes women’s leadership by focusing on how two women-led, non-profit organizations are advancing the renewable energy transition, operationalizing the concept of energy democracy and contributing to the energy justice movement. The two organizations are Grid Alternatives, a solar installation and workforce training organization, and Mothers Out Front, an advocacy organization focused on addressing climate change by promoting a transition to renewable energy. These organizations differ in their mission and approaches, yet both intentionally link climate and energy action with other forms of social justice activism, by expanding community engagement, strengthening participation, and fundamentally redistributing power to promote a transition to more equitable, resilient and sustainable energy systems. This paper contributes to the theoretical understanding of gender in energy justice and energy democracy movements, and to the practical consideration of the role that women’s leadership is playing in accelerating energy system change and advancing the principles of energy justice and energy democracy. 

Keywords: gender, energy, renewable energy, fossil fuels, energy justice, energy democracy, power

Topics: Civil Society, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Infrastructure, Energy, Justice, Multi-National Corporations, Political Participation Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2019

Raising Your Hand in the Council of all Beings: Ecofeminism and Citizenship


Sandilands, Catriona. 1999. "Raising Your Hand in the Council of all Beings: Ecofeminism and Citizenship." Ethics and the Environment 4 (2): 219-233.

Author: Catriona Sandilands



“This paper is part of an ongoing conversation that I have had with (other) ecofeminists on the general theme of democracy and citizenship. Some of these conversations have been held in relative privacy; others have appeared in a variety of published fora. But they are—necessarily, as I suggest below—conversational utterances, designed more to open questions than to answer them, inspired more by a desire to include new voices and topics in the discussion than to establish my (tenured) place in an academic establishment. This paper should thus be read as an argument to a community. More than anything, this means that I insist on the "I" of its composition in order to highlight my public appearance as the bearer of these ideas (if not always their creative source) and as a citizen of this political community. 

This conversational desire also means that I take certain tenets of our community conversation as established wisdom (if not as truth), and give them my own spin rather than rely primarily on the original desires of the authors involved (which may get my in trouble, but that's the risk of appearance.). Thus, this article is not a good introduction to ecofeminism; there are plenty of these about. It is, however, an investigation designed to get us— and the broader community of environmental thinkers—to think more systematically about citizenship as a key tenet of ecological thought. As I said, this is a conversation (and one in which I owe particular thanks to Greta Gaard): from my doxa to yours, with the hope of mutual creation” (Sandilands 1999, 219).

Keywords: eco-feminism, public sphere, nature, care ethics, morality, citizenship, public life, environmentalism, political ethics, democracy

Topics: Citizenship, Democracy / Democratization, Feminisms, Ecofeminism

Year: 1999

Representation Without Participation: Dilemmas of Quotas for Women in Post-apartheid South Africa


Myeni, Sithembiso. 2014. " Representation Without Participation: Dilemmas of Quotas for Women in Post-apartheid South Africa." African Journal of Governance & Development 3 (2): 56-78.

Author: Sithembiso Myeni


This article provides a sketch of ways in which ‘formal’ institutions of democratic representation work in practice for women in South Africa (SA). In doing so, the state of women’s participation and representation in the political process in SA is explored. Available data substantiates that women’s organisations and women’s wings of political parties have influenced the Government of SA and political parties to introduce quotas for women. Although quotas have increased the descriptive representation of women in political arenas, their representation in the decision-making process has not yet been ensured. Women face several social, cultural and political challenges that hinder their participation, and are still neglected by their male counterparts. Election of women councillors does not resolve a series of dilemmas concerning how to institutionalise democratic representation within a racially diverse, spatially divided and rapidly changing political landscape in SA.

Keywords: women, participation, representation, government, quota

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Governance, Quotas, Post-Conflict, Political Participation Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2014

Explaining Divergent Outcomes of the Arab Spring: The Significance of Gender and Women's Mobilizations


Moghadam, Valentine M. 2018. "Explaining Divergent Outcomes of the Arab Spring: The Significance of Gender and Women's Mobilizations." Politics, Groups, and Identities 6 (4): 666-81.

Author: Valentine Moghadam


The Arab Spring has been extensively analyzed but the presence or absence of violent protests and the divergent outcomes of the uprising that encompassed the Arab region have not been explained in terms of the salience of gender and women’s mobilizations. I argue that women’s legal status, social positions, and collective action prior to the Arab Spring helped shape the nature of the 2011 mass protests as well as the political and social outcomes of individual countries. I compare and contrast two sets of cases: Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, which saw non-violent protests and relatively less repression on the part of the state; and Bahrain, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, where states responded to the protests, whether violent or non-violent, with force and repression, and where women and their rights have been among the principal victims. I also show why women fared worse in Egypt than in Morocco and Tunisia.

Keywords: Arab Spring, women's rights, women's mobilizations, outcomes, violence, democratization

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Conflict, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Nonviolence, Rights, Women's Rights, Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Asia, Middle East Countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen

Year: 2018

Legacies of Violence and the Unfinished Past: Women in Post-Demobilization Colombia and Guatemala


Tarnaala, Elisa. 2019. “Legacies of Violence and the Unfinished Past: Women in Post-Demobilization Colombia and Guatemala.” Peacebuilding 7 (1): 103–17.

Author: Elisa Tarnaala


This article examines the historically grounded social acceptance of impunity and the role of unwanted actors in peace and transitional processes. The article argues from a post-demobilization violence perspective that counter-democratic developments, which have historical and global roots, condition peacebuilding and impose important limits on the deepening of inclusion. In Colombia and Guatemala, internationally backed peacebuilding activities occurred in the same regions where the local authorities continued their partnership with criminal and authoritarian actors. Thus, parallel to the shift towards greater political and economic stability at the national level, attacks against human rights activists and environmental activists, intra-community violence, violence against women, prostitution and the trafficking of girls continued at the local level and in some areas increased.

Keywords: Colombia, Guatemala, demobilization, women, violence, historical legacies

Topics: DDR, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Justice, Impunity, Transitional Justice, Peacebuilding, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Violence Regions: Americas, Central America, South America Countries: Colombia, Guatemala

Year: 2019

Political Change, Women’s Rights, and Public Opinion on Gender Equality in Myanmar


Htun, Mala, and Francesca R. Jensenius. 2020. "Political Change, Women’s Rights, and Public Opinion on Gender Equality in Myanmar." The European Journal of Development Research 32: 457-81. doi: 10.1057/s41287-020-00266-z.



Authors: Mala Htun, Francesca R. Jensenius


Myanmar’s introduction of competitive elections after decades of military rule raised expectations for progress in economic and social development, including in the area of women’s rights. In this paper, we draw on data from two national surveys, fieldwork, and existing qualitative studies to explore public opinion on women’s rights and gender equality. Do Burmese people support gender equality? How are their views on gender related to other aspects of political culture, such as traditional values and views toward authoritarianism and democracy? Our objective is to gain better understanding of the opportunities and obstacles to egalitarian social change and democratic consolidation. Our analysis of survey data reveals that attitudes toward gender roles are conservative, traditional and anti-democratic beliefs are widespread, and these views are strongly associated. Our findings imply that tendencies in public opinion provide a resource for Burmese nationalist groups and politicians and an obstacle to activists seeking greater alignment with global norms on gender equality.


Keywords: Myanmar, women's rights, public opinion, political culture, gender equality, nationalism




Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Development, Gender, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Nationalism, Political Participation Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar

Year: 2020

The Impact of Militarization on Gender Inequality and Female Labor Force Participation


Elveren, Adem, and Valentine M. Moghadam. 2019. “The Impact of Militarization on Gender Inequality and Female Labor Force Participation.” Economic Research Forum Working Paper 1307, Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg.

Authors: Adem Elveren, Valentine M. Moghadam


Feminist research has revealed significant relationships between militarization, patriarchy, and gender inequality. This paper takes that research forward through an empirical analysis of the impact of militarization on gender inequality and on women’s participation in the labor market. Using the Gender Inequality Index and the Global Militarization Index for the period of 1990-2017 for 133 countries, the paper shows that higher militarization is significantly correlated with higher gender inequality and lower level of female labor force participation rate, controlling for major variables such as conflict, democracy level, regime type, fertility rate, and urbanization rate. The results are significant in the case of Islam and MENA countries, and with respect to countries with different income levels.

Keywords: militarization, military expenditure, democracy, Islam, gender inequality

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Economies, Conflict, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, Reproductive Health, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Livelihoods, Religion Regions: MENA

Year: 2019

How Women Could Save the World, If Only We Would Let Them: From Gender Essentialism to Inclusive Security


Powell, Catherine. 2017. "How Women Could Save the World, If Only We Would Let Them: From Gender Essentialism to Inclusive Security." Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 28 (2).

Author: Catherine Powell


We increasingly hear that women's empowerment and leadership will lead to a safer, more prosperous world. The UN Security Council's groundbreaking resolutions on Women Peace, and Security (WPS)-and U.S. law implementing these commitments-rest on the assumption that women's participation in peace and security matters will lead to more sustainable peace, because women presumably "perform" in ways that reduce conflict, violence, and extremism. This idea is of heightened importance today because women are still vastly underrepresented in positions of leadership in the peace and security field, having yet to "shatter that highest and hardest glass ceiling" as Commander-in-Chief in the United States or rise to the role of Secretary- General in the United Nations. Before her own historic race to become the first woman Commander in Chief, Hillary Clinton had prominently made the claim we increasingly hear that women's empowerment is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do for global and economic security.

Such claims raise fundamental questions for international law, equality theory, and feminism. Assertions that the world would be a better-more peaceful, more prosperous-place, if women assumed leadership positions in peace and security matters are unapologetically instrumentalist and reinforce essentialist views of women. At the same time, evidence suggests that these claims are to some extent accurate. Thus, these assertions should be carefully examined. Reviewing new research, this Article argues that while some evidence supports these claims, the statistical evidence supporting these claims suffers from methodological flaws. Moreover, the forms of gender performance reflected in the data-which international law has organized itself around-are based on the socially constructed roles women play as caregivers, nurturers, and collaborators, not necessarily on their inherent biological roles. Yet, international law reifies these roles and the stereotypes that surround them, even as it tries to open up opportunities for women beyond traditional sex-segregated positions that have long relegated women around the world to the pink ghetto of economic inequality and inferior political and social status. Having to maneuver around formal equality, on the one hand, and instrumentalist claims that women will "save" the world, on the other, means that the category of "woman" can restrict even as it liberates. After all, not all women are "peace-loving," particularly in a world where the women who succeed are often those who can succeed on terms defined by men.

Two prevailing theoretical frameworks-antisubordination and securitization-shape the current debate about WPS, but each ultimately falls short. This Article identifies democratic legitimacy as a novel third approach missing from the existing debate. As an alternative view, the democratic legitimacy account effectively reframes the WPS debate as one concerning inclusive security-emphasizing that women's participation enhances the representativeness, democracy, and fairness of the process as a whole-rather than privileging the "special interests" of a particular group (as the antisubordination approach is accused of doing) or reinforcing gender essentialism (as the securitization approach does). Notably, a democratic legitimation paradigm is grounded in a model of inclusion that can be applied to vectors of inequality beyond gender, as well as to inequality at the intersection of various forms of inequality. Moreover, by emphasizing democratic representation, this approach insists on local ownership and bottom-up solutions, thereby emphasizing participation and leadership by women in conflict zones, rather than female global elites. Under a democratic legitimacy paradigm, women can still "save" the world, but in a different way than the predominant discourse would have us believe.

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Law, Peace and Security, Political Participation, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS

Year: 2017

International Women’s Organizations, Peace and Peacebuilding


Goodman, Joyce. 2019. “International Women’s Organizations, Peace and Peacebuilding.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Global Approaches to Peace, edited by Aigul Kulnazarova and Vesselin Popovski, 441–60. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Author: Joyce Goodman


This chapter uses the published records of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) and of the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF) to analyze how the positioning of international women’s organizations around neutrality played out in organizational configurations of peace and peacebuilding. The chapter argues that the IFUW’s “disinterested” neutrality and the WIDF’s “active” neutrality connected to differing political views on equality, expertise, democracy, sovereignty and imperialism with consequences for the framing of the organizations’ peacebuilding activities and for their organizational links with Korea. The chapter uses the interactions of Kim Hawal-lan and Germaine Hannevart with Korea to conclude that women’s engagement with the peacebuilding initiatives of international women’s organizations should be seen as the outcome of a series of encounters.

Topics: Conflict, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Organizations, Peacebuilding Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: North Korea, South Korea

Year: 2019


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