The Role of Female Agency in Politics: A Global Study, 1850-2000

Dilli, S.

Over the last 200 years, an upward trend in democracy has been observed both cross-nationally and within nations. Previous studies attributed a major role to the developmental, historical, and more recently diffusional characteristics in explaining this democratization process. Although these predictors are robust predictors of democracy, they neglect the role of gender inequalities in democratic outcomes. In its attempt to overcome this shortcoming, this study introduces the concept of “female agency” to study the impact of gender inequalities on the democratization process. The results of both panel data and cross sectional data analysis show that women’s unequal position, both in the private and in the public sphere, are meaningful sources of explanation for within and cross national differences in democracy. This implies that future studies in democratization should include a gendered and capability perspective to have a full understanding of the underlying mechanisms.