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Bargaining for Women’s Rights

Activism in an Aspiring Muslim Democracy

2015
Author:

Alice J. Kang

Bargaining for Women’s Rights

Looking beyond stereotypes to explain the failures⎯and successes⎯of women’s rights politics in the Muslim world

Providing a solid analytic framework for understanding conflict over women’s rights policies without stereotyping Muslims, Bargaining for Women’s Rights demonstrates that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Islam does not have a uniformly negative effect on the prospects of such legislation.

Alice J. Kang compellingly argues that governments are more likely to adopt women's rights reforms when local activists mobilize for them, that opposing activists must also be considered, and that political context is essential for understanding outcomes around women's rights.

Gretchen Bauer, University of Delaware

Gender relations in Muslim-majority countries have been subject to intense debate in recent decades. In some cases, Muslim women have fought for and won new rights to political participation, reproductive health, and education. In others, their agendas have been stymied. Yet missing from this discussion, until now, has been a systematic examination of how civil society groups mobilize to promote women’s rights and how multiple components of the state negotiate such legislation.

In Bargaining for Women’s Rights, Alice J. Kang argues that reform is more likely to happen when the struggle arises from within. Focusing on how a law on gender quotas and a United Nations treaty on ending discrimination against women passed in Niger while family law reform and an African Union protocol on women’s rights did not, Kang shows how local women’s associations are uniquely positioned to translate global concepts of democracy and human rights into concrete policy proposals. And yet, drawing on numerous interviews with women’s rights activists as well as Islamists and politicians, she reveals that the former are not the only ones who care about the regulation of gender relations.

Providing a solid analytic framework for understanding conflict over women’s rights policies without stereotyping Muslims, Bargaining for Women’s Rights demonstrates that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Islam does not have a uniformly negative effect on the prospects of such legislation.

Bargaining for Women’s Rights

Alice J. Kang is assistant professor of political science and ethnic studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Bargaining for Women’s Rights

Alice J. Kang compellingly argues that governments are more likely to adopt women's rights reforms when local activists mobilize for them, that opposing activists must also be considered, and that political context is essential for understanding outcomes around women's rights.

Gretchen Bauer, University of Delaware

Bargaining for Women’s Rights is a refreshing approach to thinking about women's rights in majority Muslim countries that captures how civil society groups mobilize and how multiple components of 'the state' actually debate women's rights legislation.

Barbara Cooper, Rutgers University

[Kang] includes an impressive combination of original empirical research and review and analysis of alternative hypotheses to assert the argument that women, and women's movements, matter in the adoption of gender equality policies.

CHOICE

Bargaining for Women’s Rights

Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction: Women’s Rights in an African Muslim Democracy
1. A French Colonial Legacy: The Making of Niger’s Legal System
2. The Puzzle of Non-Adoption: Why Niger Has No Family Code
3. Bargaining for Women’s Representation: The Adoption of a Gender Quota
4. Bringing Rights Home: How Niger Ratified CEDAW and Rejected the Maputo Protocol
Conclusion: Rethinking Women’s Activism
Appendix: Research Methods
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Bargaining for Women’s Rights

UMP blog: On 'big data' and the ways we evaluate women's lives on a global scale

I have questions and reservations about global data sets that compare women’s lives, some of which grew out of the interviews and daily interactions I had while working on my book in the Republic of Niger.