How Autocrats Weaponize Women’s Rights

Issue Date April 2022
Volume 33
Issue 2
Page Numbers 60–75
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This essay introduces the concept of “autocratic genderwashing” to shed light on why authoritarian states adopt gender-equality reforms. Autocratic genderwashing occurs when autocrats take credit for advances in gender equality in order to turn attention away from persistent nondemocratic practices, such as violations of electoral integrity and human rights. In doing so, they exploit the often simplistic association between gender equality and democracy to seek legitimacy and achieve regime stability. Gender equality is used to devise legitimation strategies tailored to specific groups. Awareness of this phenomenon might make scholars and democracy activists less likely to accept inclusion as a substitute for competition in nondemocratic states.

About the Authors

Elin Bjarnegård

Elin Bjarnegård is associate professor of political science at Uppsala University and author of Gender, Informal Institutions and Political Recruitment: Explaining Male Dominance in Parliamentary Representa-tion (2013).

View all work by Elin Bjarnegård

Pär Zetterberg

Pär Zetterberg is associate professor of political science at Uppsala University.

View all work by Pär Zetterberg

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