Female leadership of democratic transitions in Asia

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Author(s)

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-556
Journal / PublicationPacific Affairs
Volume75
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes

Abstract

Over the past decade and a half, women have led successful popular uprisings against dictators in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines. Moreover, women are currently leading anti-dictatorship struggles in Burma and Malaysia. This is striking given the absence of female leadership of democratic transitions elsewhere in the world, not to mention the general rarity of women leaders. In Asia, rather than blocking their rise to leadership, gender stereotyping proved to be a political advantage. As the widows, wives and daughters of male martyrs, these women symbolized the nation's suffering while appearing non-partisan. Belonging to the "weaker sex," they stressed non-violence. They were less threatening to potential rivals, making it easier to unite the opposition. Ironically, the same qualities that enabled women to lead democratic revolutions also contributed to the difficulties of democratic consolidation. Women should reign, not rule, it was claimed. Efforts to seek justice for their martyred fathers or husbands prompted accusations that they were wreaking revenge. Once praised for leading a moral struggle against tyranny, women leaders were accused (not always unfairly) of governing in the interests of their family dynasties.

Citation Format(s)

Female leadership of democratic transitions in Asia. / Thompson, Mark R.
In: Pacific Affairs, Vol. 75, No. 4, 12.2002, p. 535-556.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review