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The Logics of Gender Justice
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Book description

When and why do governments promote women's rights? Through comparative analysis of state action in seventy countries from 1975 to 2005, this book shows how different women's rights issues involve different histories, trigger different conflicts, and activate different sets of protagonists. Change on violence against women and workplace equality involves a logic of status politics: feminist movements leverage international norms to contest women's subordination. Family law, abortion, and contraception, which challenge the historical claim of religious groups to regulate kinship and reproduction, conform to a logic of doctrinal politics, which turns on relations between religious groups and the state. Publicly-paid parental leave and child care follow a logic of class politics, in which the strength of Left parties and overall economic conditions are more salient. The book reveals the multiple and complex pathways to gender justice, illuminating the opportunities and obstacles to social change for policymakers, advocates, and others seeking to advance women's rights.


‘This book will be an instant classic in the politics of gender because of its power and scope. Based on meticulous empirical research, Htun and Weldon explain vast variation - within and across countries - in government policies that could help women advance towards full political, economic, and social equality. By disaggregating gender politics along different dimensions, they are able to uncover separate logics underlying, for example, family law, violence against women, and support for childcare - a masterful achievement.'

Frances McCall Rosenbluth - Yale University, Connecticut

‘One of the most important developments today is the expanding rights and power of women, yet policies that support women's equality in the law, family, and workplace differ a great deal around the world. Htun and Weldon's landmark book provides a valuable mapping and characterization of gender equality-promoting policies in 70 countries, as well as a streamlined and powerful framework for explaining them. Packed with data, qualitative case studies, and theoretical insights, this book is essential reading for scholars seeking to understand the rise of women's rights, the influence of women's movements, and the effects of political conflicts rooted in class and religion on gender relations around the globe.'

Kimberly J. Morgan - George Washington University, Washington, DC

‘In this exciting new book, Mala Htun and S. Laurel Weldon break new ground by not only showing the profound variations across gender equality policies and their different logics, but by providing a compelling typology and framework for analysing continuity and change in each type of policy. With its rich theoretical grounding, and breathtaking global scope, The Logics of Gender Justice is set to change the field of feminist public policy for years to come – a must read for scholars and students interested in gender equality policies and for activists and practitioners looking for insights into the political dynamics at work.'

Shahra Razavi - Chief of Research and Data Section, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

'… it is a valuable work because it provides a broad picture of cross-national variation and the cumulative effects of the actors included in the study.'

Gul Aldikacti Marshall Source: American Journal of Sociology

'This book makes an important contribution to the scholarly understanding and literature on public policy, gender and politics, and human rights and, although primarily aimed at an academic audience, provides valuable insights and lessons for development practitioners, feminist campaigners, and policy makers seeking policy reform.'

Francesca Gains Source: Gender & Development

‘I found the book’s exposition consistently accessible, aided by the authors’ lucid delivery. They describe their methodologies, rationales for choosing them, and limitations thereof in great detail, and in a manner I found comprehensible. Aside from the great value of its content, the volume would be an immensely useful tool for teaching research methods to advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Overall, The Logics of Gender Justice is a masterful achievement.’

Carole H. Browner Source: Politics & Gender

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  • 3 - Governing Women’s Legal Status at Work
    pp 84-119


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