State-Level Restriction of Religious Freedom and Women’s Rights: A Global Analysis

Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

The literature is divided on the nature of the relationship between state-level restriction of religious freedom and women’s rights, as religious freedom can empower members of marginalized groups or advance gender-discriminatory practices. Employing a time-series cross-sectional analysis of data for two decades from 153 nations, this study shows that the relationship between religious regulation and women’s rights depends on the type of regulation, with regulation of the majority religion improving state-level women’s rights and discriminatory regulation specifically targeting minority religions impairing them. Furthermore, the effect of regulation is moderated by the context. Even relatively small regulatory steps promote women’s rights in patriarchal and non-democratic regimes by weakening the religion-state fusion and patriarchal values. However, in liberal democracies, the beneficial effects of regulation wane or even backfire, as religious institutions may rally around the religion. Consequently, this article advocates a multidimensional view of religious freedom, and warns against viewing secularization as inherently promoting gender equality.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)832-853
Number of pages22
JournalPolitical Studies
Volume64
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.

Keywords

  • religion
  • religious freedom
  • women’s rights

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