Democratization and State Feminism: Gender Politics in Africa and Latin America

  • Citation: Okeke–Ihejirika, Philomina E., and Susan Franceschet. "Democratization and state feminism: Gender politics in Africa and Latin America." Development and Change 33.3 (2002): 439-466.
    • Topics:
    • IR Theories
    • Keywords:
    • Sub-Saharan Africa
    • Global South
    • feminism and democratization
    • Nigeria
    • Chile

This article addresses the link between state feminism and democratization in the global South. The authors use the contrasting cases of Chile and Nigeria to show some of the factors that encourage women to exploit the opportunities presented by transitions to democracy, and link the outcome of state feminism to the strategies and discourses available to women during democratization. Based on evidence from the cases analysed, the authors propose that the strategic options available to women are shaped by at least three factors: (1) the existence of a unified women’s movement capable of making political demands; (2) existing patterns of gender relations, which influence women’s access to arenas of political influence and power; and (3) the content of existing gender ideologies, and whether women can creatively deploy them to further their own interests. State feminism emerged in Chile out of the demands of a broad–based women’s movement in a context of democratic transition that provided feminists with access to political institutions. In Nigeria, attempts at creating state feminism have consistently failed due to a political transition from military to civilian rule that has not provided feminists with access to political arenas of influence, and the absence of a powerful women’s movement.

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