Women protest in Egypt in a 2013 demonstration. Photo: Reproduction/Mídia Ninja

*By Monique Oliveira

Why did the Arab Spring fail and only Tunisia emerged as a democratic country? In part, due to the lack of women's rights in the region, says interdisciplinary study published on European Journal of Political ResearchResearchers investigated data from 177 countries that became a democracy starting in the 1900s.

In particular, the analysis showed that countries do not become fully democratic without political and social rights for women. And this is particularly true for Arab Spring countries, where the failure to promote women's rights has jeopardized any attempt at democratic governance in the area.

The study showed that civil rights for men and women – rights to freedom of expression, for example – were always present at a high level before the implementation of constitutional rights. This pattern has been observed in almost every case of successful democratization in the XNUMXth century.

Yi-Ting Wang, from Cheng Kun University (Taiwan) participated in the study; Patrick Linderfors, from Stockholm University (Sweden); Aksel Sundström, from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden); Fredrik Jansson, from Stockholm University (Sweden); Pamela Paxton, from the University of Texas-Austin (USA); and Staffan Lindberg, from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden).

The cost of repression

The study points out that, although civil rights for men were previously considered sufficient for the democratic transition, more recent research notes the importance of women's rights. This is mainly due to the cost of repression argument.

According to the authors, the transition from an authoritarian regime occurs when the cost of repressing the rebels is so great that it will be easier to maintain power in a democracy. That is, when a minimal redistribution of power becomes less costly than the attempt to maintain authority at any cost.

And that's where the role of women's rights comes in. If more women have political rights, the greater the cost of repression in society. “When more citizens enjoy rights and are better able to initiate effective uprisings, repression becomes difficult,” says the study.

When women engage in the labor market and political participation, fewer people in society tend to resolve their issues in the private sphere, the researchers point out. "Therefore, it is expected that the improvement of women's civil liberties will substantially increase the pressure for political change."

The article cites the importance of women's participation in political movements in Latin America. “In the 1980s, pro-democratization groups for women emerged in Brazil, Chile and Peru, centered on the age that the daily lives of women were economically more difficult than that of men,” the researchers say. in Brazil, studies show that 80% of protesters are women.”

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