Gender and Democratization: Or What Does Democracy Mean for Women in the Third World?

Authored by: Shirin M. Rai

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation, Political Transitions
Region: No Region
Year: 1994
Citation: Rai, Shirin M. "Gender and Democratization: Or What Does Democracy Mean for Women in the Third World?" Democratization 1, no. 1 (1994): 209-228.

Access the Resource:


The article argues that the ongoing process of democratization in the Third World affects both men and women significantly, though differentially. It examines the two major strands of democratic theory, representative and participative, to emphasize that both of these take for granted the division between the public and the private spheres. This division inhibits the mass participation of women in politics and therefore in the democratic processes affecting them. It further analyses the arguments made in the name of cultural specificity of Third World societies and the dilemmas that these pose for women in their struggle for democracy. It draws upon various case studies to examine the contradictory and often painful options that women of the Third World are faced with in any process of political change, including that of democratization. Through the case studies the article underscores the complex relationship between the state and civil society in the Third World and how women negotiate the boundaries of both. It concludes that the process of political democratization, though not an unproblematic transition, creates new opportunities for women to mobilize in their own various interests.