Gender difference in support for democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa: Do social institutions matter?

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Little investigation has been made to explain why women are less likely
than are men to support democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa. This gender
difference in politics has been found in numerous studies and may hinder
the much needed legitimation of democracy in this region. This paper
addresses the question of whether this observed gender gap is due to the
omission of social institutions related to gender inequality, something
that affects women's daily life and deprives them of autonomy at home.
We hypothesize that women who live under autocracy at home are less
likely to support democracy outside, because it does not affect their
private life; this follows the idea that the way women are treated in a
society might have major implications for the economic, social, and
political functioning of that society. We find that the gender
difference in support for democracy is no longer significant after we
control for gender discrimination in the Family Code, in physical
integrity or in civil liberties. This study also provides evidence that
women living in countries with favorable laws toward women are more
supportive of democracy than women who do not, suggesting that
democratic regimes may be more willing than are authoritarian regimes to
protect laws friendly to women.

Key words: Support for democracy, gender difference, social institutions
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Publication series

SeriesUNU-MERIT Working Papers

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