Does Global Good Citizenship Begin at Home? Sexual Equality and Humanitarian Foreign Policy
Journal of Peace Research, Volume 51, Issue 1, January 2014
32 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2015
Date Written: June 25, 2013
Does greater sexual equality at home strengthen a state’s propensity to global good citizenship? Constructivist approaches to international relations suggest that deeper democracies may be more prone to support international human rights initiatives, going beyond the liberal democratic peace to a deep democratic human security promotion. Feminist perspectives highlight sexual equality as an important generator of deeper democracy. In theory, greater sexual equality may have multiple effects on foreign policymaking that should enhance cosmopolitan universalism. First, the direct empowerment of women as policymakers and civil society constituencies should shift states’ incentives for international initiatives. Greater sexual equality should also lead to diffuse socialization to peace, an ethic of care, and the promotion of equity. Finally, domestic sexual equality should have greater traction on state promotion of international human rights in democratic countries. We test these predictions using cross-country data on a wide variety of international human rights outcomes. We employ several multi-dimensional indices of gender equity that incorporate women’s political participation, legal, economic and social status, and gendered experience of insecurity. Controlling for factors linked to human rights foreign policy by previous research, we find that more equitable countries are more likely to support international commitments constraining state violence against individuals. States with more empowered women also provide more and higher quality development assistance. Moreover, sexual equality raises countries’ support for international measures to combat discrimination against women and on the basis of sexual orientation. As expected, sexual equality is more supportive of human rights foreign policy in democratic countries. Sexual equality appears to yield less benefit for participation in costly “high politics:” international legal institutions, promotion of economic rights through concessionary trade policies, or adoption of diplomatic sanctions against pariah states, unless it is bolstered by democratic institutions. These trends also appear in samples that exclude Western democracies.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation