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Mala Htun — Enacting Equality for Women

Enacting Equality for Women

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.

More Information

Mala Htun is Professor of Political Science at the University of New Mexico and Special Advisor for Inclusion and Climate in the School of Engineering. She works on women’s rights, social inequalities, and strategies to promote inclusion and diversity. Htun is the author of three books, most recently The Logics of Gender Justice: State Action on Women’s Rights around the World, co-authored with Laurel Weldon (Cambridge Press, 2018). Htun is lead PI of the NSF-AGEP Catalyst Alliance of UNM, ASU, and U-Oregon and PI of the NSF-funded New Strategies to Combat Harassment in Engineering research project. She has been an Andrew Carnegie Fellow, a fellow at the Kellogg Institute of the University of Notre Dame and the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard, and held the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship in Japan. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard and a A.B. in international relations from Stanford. She was an assistant and then associate professor at the New School for Social Research from 2000-2011.