Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants

Title

Linking Gender Equality and Good Governance: the Importance of Political Representation

Department

Political Science Department

College

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Disciplines

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

Cross-national studies have linked improvements in equality between the sexes with advances in economic, democratic, and security outcomes. There is strong evidence indicating a connection between educational opportunities for women and improvements in economic development. Other studies demonstrate a link between greater gender equality and reduced propensity for state involvement in military conflict. I argue that the link between gender equality and good governance is bi-directional. Improvement in overall economic standing of a state contributes to greater gender equality just as reduced military spending allows the state to reallocate funds towards the social spending that impacts economic equality. In some states, improvements in gender equality do not translate into improved governance. In these cases, gains in gender equality do not result in improvements in indicators such as trust in governance or government accountability. In the US, for example, educational and income gains for women have not translated into greater trust in government. Polls indicate that Americans trust the government less than in any time in history. Similarly, in Japan and South Korea, gains in gender equality have not translated into confidence in government. By contrast, gains in gender equality in many European states are correlated with growing electoral participation and confidence in government. I argue that gender equality and good governance are part of a virtuous cycle, and that a necessary condition linking gender equality and good governance is female political leadership. Without women in political office, government measures reflect the status quo, male-dominated policy environment. My research relies on data from the International Parliamentary Union and the Worldwide Governance Indicators. This study contrasts states that are engaged in a virtuous cycle of gender equality and good governance linked by female political leadership with states that are trapped in a vicious cycle in which gains in equality are not linked to improvements in governance because female political leadership does not emerge.

Conference Name

European Conference on Politics and Gender

Conference Location

Uppsala, Sweden

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