restricted access Islam, Authoritarianism, and Female and Empowerment: What Are the Linkages?

In a path-breaking cross-national statistical analysis, M. Steven Fish contends that Islamic culture inhibits democracy and represses women's rights and that authoritarian government and suppression of women's rights in turn reinforce each other. The analysis in this article builds on Fish's work, but reaches somewhat different conclusions. First, both authoritarian government and suppression of women are more common in Arab countries than in other Islamic countries. Second, the authors find little global evidence that authoritarian government and the suppression of women reinforce each other. Finally, the relationship of cultures to democracy can change quite quickly and radically, as evidenced in many Catholic countries. The reasons for an association of Islam—especially in Arab countries—with autocracy and suppression of women may therefore be as much a consequence of political history as of culture.