Thursday, April 27, 2023
4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
True North Classroom, Stephen Robert ’62 Hall, 280 Brook Street
The global rights revolution for women has made major progress since the 1970s, at least on paper. Many countries reformed family and labor laws to eliminate gender discriminatory provisions, introduced legislation to combat gender and sexual violence, expanded access to reproductive health care and political leadership, and promoted work-life balance through parental leave and child care provision. We know a lot about why and how these changes happened. But laws on the books are one thing; changing society to enact equality in practice is another. We can’t assume that equal rights laws are effective, since many places experience large gaps between formal rights and actual behaviors. In this book, we explore the ways that states–and the social forces seeking to influence them–have attempted to translate equal rights for women into practice and whether these efforts have changed people’s lives. We identify three mechanisms or tools states use to induce social change and enact equality: money, coercion, and norms. The book analyzes multiple types of data from experiences in diverse parts of the world and different women’s rights issue areas. Using the three mechanisms as our guiding framework, the book compares stories of success and stories where behavior did not change in line with the expectations of reformers and activists. We use these stories to identify the advantages and limitations of the three tools to produce social change and enact equality for women.
Sponsored by Herbert H. Goldberger Lectureships Fund and the Department of Political Science