Shirin M. Rai
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Gender Studies
in Democratization through the looking-glass

In order to explore the feminist perspectives on democratization, people need to understand both the feminist frameworks and methodologies. This chapter outlines what a feminist framework might be and then uses this perspective to analyse feminist engagements with the theory and practice of democratization. It presents some insights arising from the work of feminist scholars that extend the authors' understanding of democratization at the theoretical level. Feminist insights have insisted upon de-mythologizing an 'essential woman' through the study of difference between men and women and among women as a theoretical strategy that underpins women's struggles for empowerment. The chapter then discusses the specific field of gender and democratization and the nature of women's participation in politics. It further reflects upon the wider socio-economic context in which men and women are engaged in democratization struggles.

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