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Gender Balance

Why Did Economic Liberalization Lead to Feminization of the Labor Force in Morocco and de-Feminization in Egypt


Assaad, Ragui. 2004. “Why Did Economic Liberalization Lead to Feminization of the Labor Force in Morocco and De-Feminization in Egypt?” Paper presented at the Mediterranean Development Forum of the Center of Arab Women Training and Research, November.

Author: Ragui Assaad


"I. Introduction

The international literature on economic liberalization and gender emphasizes the strong link between the labor market deregulation and informalization that accompany economic liberalization processes and labor force feminization (Standing 1989, 1999; Cerruti, 2000; Cagatay, Elson and Grown, 1995; Valodia, 2001). Official structural adjustment programs and unofficial, but typically state-supported, erosions of worker protection policies are associated with the absolute and relative growth of the female labor force in the developing world. According to the literature, the feminization trend has permeated all the regions of the developing world with the possible exception of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which has seen its share of women in the labor force stagnate over the liberalization period (Horton 1999). Within MENA, Morocco and Tunisia stand out as exceptions that conform to the feminization trend observed elsewhere in the developing world (Moghadam 1998). A number of arguments have been advanced to explain the low and stagnant female labor force participation rates in MENA, including the obvious argument that cultural and social norms hinder women’s participation in paid work outside the home. 

The purpose of this paper is to explain the different trajectories followed by Egypt and Morocco with regards to feminization of the labor force. While both have experienced significant informalization of their labor markets, Morocco has undergone noteworthy feminization of its work force, while Egypt (excepting the civil service) has largely de-feminized. Both Egypt and Morocco have embarked on stabilization and adjustment programs since the 1970s. Since then, employment opportunities in public service have been curtailed, although more so in the case of Morocco. Both countries share a similar cultural heritage, so that norms about gender roles, in general, and women’s work, in particular, should be fairly similar in both contexts. Explanations for their divergent paths with regard to feminization need to be sought, in my view, in the different economic conditions faced by each country. 

Because the international literature makes an explicit connection between female paid employment and economic liberalization and structural adjustment, the focus in this paper is on that, rather than on employment as a whole. Moreover, because both countries have been attempting to constrain the growth their civil service in recent years, albeit with less success in Egypt than in Morocco, I focus on non-governmental wage employment, which includes employment in the private sector and in State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). Since the start of liberalizing reforms in the 1970s, SOEs have gradually been given increasing autonomy in hiring, wage-setting, and in general operations, so that by the 1990s it increasingly makes sense to lump them with private enterprises, as the non-governmental sector, rather than with the civil service, as the public sector.

This paper will explore the different economic trajectories in the two countries in terms of the change of the sectoral composition of employment and how the female share in each sector changed over time. I will also explore the differences in institutional arrangements and macroeconomic conditions that encouraged feminization (or defeminization) in each country, with particular examination of hypotheses concerning how the structure of foreign exchange revenues has affected household labor decisions and the demand for female labor” (Assad, 2004, p. 2-3).

Topics: Development, Economies, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gender Balance, Livelihoods Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Middle East Countries: Egypt, Morocco

Year: 2004

Rethinking the Life of International Norms: The United Nations and the Global Promotion of Gender Equality


Krook, Mona Lena, and Jacqui True. 2012. “Rethinking the Life Cycles of International Norms: The United Nations and the Global Promotion of Gender Equality.” European Journal of International Relations 18 (1): 103–27.

Authors: Mona Lena Krook, Jacqui True


The diffusion of international norms and their effects on policy and political behaviour are central research questions in international relations. Informed by constructivism, prevailing models are marked by a crucial tension between a static view of norm content and a dynamic picture of norm adoption and implementation. Observing that norms continue to evolve after they emerge, we argue that a discursive approach offers a more promising way forward for theorizing and analysing the life cycles of international norms. We present a view of norms as processes, calling attention to both ‘internal’ and ‘external’ sources of dynamism. We illustrate this theory by tracing and comparing the life cycles of two global equality norms: gender-balanced decision-making and gender mainstreaming. We find that these norms emerged from two distinct policy realms, and after briefly converging in the mid-1990s, have since developed largely separately from, and often in tension with, one another.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Gender Balance, Gender Mainstreaming

Year: 2012

Women’s Political Representation in Post-Conflict Rwanda: A Politics of Inclusion or Exclusion?


Hogg, Carey Leigh. 2009. “Women’s Political Representation in Post-Conflict Rwanda: A Politics of Inclusion or Exclusion?” Journal of International Women’s Studies 11 (3): 34–55.

Author: Carey Leigh Hogg


Though references abound to Rwandan women holding the world’s highest percentage of parliamentary representation at 56%, what is rarely addressed is the confluence of two opposing trends in Rwanda’s post-conflict environment: that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)-led government has advocated for women’s greater political inclusion under the premise that women will ‘better’ the political climate, while simultaneously excluding any form of political dissent or ethnic identification. This article ventures into uncharted territory by asking two questions: first, does the discourse surrounding the Government of National Unity’s (GNU) campaign to increase women’s participation in formal politics uncritically assume that women parliamentarians will have a different relationship to politics, paring women representatives’ identities down to non-ethnic female subjects, seen only as promoting peaceful reconciliation? Secondly, given what external actors increasingly term an ‘authoritarian state’ that lacks political space, does the notion that women will change the political climate have any substantive meaning in post-genocidal Rwanda? The answers to such queries show that viewing the Rwandan case with a critical and gendered lens generates deeper meaning for how women political representatives’ identities can be dangerously frozen and ‘subjectified’ in post-conflict contexts; particularly those intent on building ‘national unity’ by way of quieting dissent.

Topics: Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2009

Military Women in NATO: An Update


Stanley, Sandra C., and Mady W. Segal. 1988. "Military Women in NATO: An Update." Armed Forces & Society 14 (4): 559-85.

Authors: Sandra C. Stanley, Mady W. Segal


The past few years have witnessed policy changes in several of the NATO nations toward greater reliance on female military personnel, and further movement in this direction appears likely. There is great variation among these countries in the extent to which women are included in their armed forces, ranging from those where women are excluded or involved in very limited ways to those where all or a majority of military positions are open to women. The contemporary situation is discussed as are future plans for women's military roles in Alliance nations. Besides a description of current patterns, several dimensions that characterize women's military participation are outlined. Finally, conclusions regarding women's future military roles are offered, based on history and the current situation.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Balance, International Organizations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries

Year: 1988

Gender Integration in Armed Forces: Recent Policy Developments in the United Kingdom


Dandeker, Christopher, and Mady W. Segal. 1996. "Gender Integration in Armed Forces: Recent Policy Developments in the United Kingdom." Armed Forces & Society 23 (1): 29-47.

Authors: Christopher Dandeker, Mady W. Segal


This article reports on recent developments in policy on gender integration in the United Kingdom's armed forces, whereby women's employment opportunities have widened significantly since the early 1980s. These changes include increases in women's representation and the number of positions they are allowed to occupy; abolition of the Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC) and Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS); assigning women to combat ships, and training women as jet fighter pilots. Drawing on official reports and statistics and formal interviews with military and civilian defense officials, we analyze the main factors that have led the United Kingdom to make these policy changes. These factors are: demographic pressures, sociocultural changes in gender definitions, legal constraints (particularly from the European Union), and changing views of policy makers on whether women can and should serve in combat roles. The article highlights a number of implications of the policy changes.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Livelihoods, Militarized Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries Regions: Europe, Northern Europe Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 1996

Gender Quotas in Politics-A Constitutional Challenge


Dahlerup, Drude, and Lenita Freidenvall. 2009. “Gender Quotas in Politics-A Constitutional Challenge.” In Constituting Equality - Gender Equality and Comparative Constitutional Law, edited by Susan H. Williams, 29–52. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Authors: Drude Dahlerup, Lenita Freidenvall

Topics: Gender, Gender Balance, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Constitutions

Year: 2009

Constrained Spaces for Islamic Feminism: Women’s Rights and the 2004 Constitution of Afghanistan


Choudhury, Nusrat. 2007. “Constrained Spaces for  Islamic Feminism: Women’s Rights and the 2004 Constitution of Afghanistan.” Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 19: 155–99.

Author: Nusrat Choudhury


The Afghan Constitution of 2004 attempts a reconciliation between democracy, Islam, Islamic law, and women's rights. This raises much debate. Although the constitution guarantees equality and includes gender quotas, some fear that the balance struck is too precarious. For example, nothing prevents a judge from relying upon the Shari'a described in the constitution to emphasize the incompatibility between Islamic law and women's rights. The author therefore questions the viability of this legal combination.

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Governance, Constitutions, Quotas, Religion, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2007

Gender Imbalance in Secondary Schools


Mugisha, Catherine Howgego. 2005. “Gender Imbalance in Secondary Schools.” Forced Migration Review 22: 32–33.

Author: Catherine Howgego Mugisha


Significantly fewer girls than boys attend schools in refugee camps. As the level of education increases, there is a corresponding decrease in the numbers of female participants. This has resulted in a severe gender imbalance in refugee secondary schools.

Topics: Education, Gender, Girls, Boys, Gender Balance

Year: 2005

Does the Presence of Women Really Matter? Towards Combating Male Sexual Violence in Peacekeeping Operations


Simic, Olivera. 2010. “Does the Presence of Women Really Matter? Towards Combating Male Sexual Violence in Peacekeeping Operations.” International Peacekeeping (13533312) 17 (2): 188–199.

Author: Olivera Simic


Women are being encouraged to join peacekeeping operations as sexual violence problem-solving forces while simultaneously undertaking a complex role as ‘protectors’ of local women from local men and male peacekeepers. Since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 in 2000, the UN has urged states to deploy more women. Among the implicit assumptions underlying these calls are that an increase in the representation of women in peacekeeping operations (PKOs) will lead to a decrease in the cases of HIV/AIDS, a decline in the number of brothels around peacekeeping bases, and a reduction in the number of babies fathered and abandoned by peacekeepers after their mission comes to an end. Evidence suggests that the presence of women peacekeepers can and does foster a change in male behaviour when women are deployed in PKOs. This article argues, however, that countering abuse should not be a substitute for the more encompassing goal of improving gender balance and equality in PKOs. While there is a need to combat sexual violence in PKOs, the responsibility for prevention should be on troop-contributing countries, which need to exercise accountability and prosecute sexual violence committed by their peacekeepers. Diverting responsibility to women does not address the problem of sexual violence in PKOs, or help eradicate its causes.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Organizations, Peacekeeping, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, SV against Women

Year: 2010


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