Gaining international legitimacy by improving women's rights and gender equality - The case of Nicaragua

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: A reoccurring argument in previous research is that autocracies implement policy changes for women’s rights in order to gain international legitimacy. The idea is that by showing the international community that they are on-board with the global movement to empower women; focus is diverted from their shortcomings in other democratic aspects. What is left out of the discussion though, is how such legitimization take shape. With help of qualitative content analysis, this thesis aims to investigate whether Nicaragua, an increasingly autocratic state which has implemented policy changes to improve women’s rights and gender equality, has gained international legitimacy in the reports of two different watch dog organizations, Amnesty International and Freedom House, and simultaneously received less criticism for their flaws as a state. The results of the analysis are not straightforward but provides two key findings that suggests that the theory cannot be completely dismissed. The first one is that, by comparing the reports by Freedom House, less criticism is detected simultaneously as the two policy changes are referred to more often in year 2012 compared to year 2011 which supports the theory. The second finding is that the amendments of Comprehensive Violence against Women Law in 2013 is referred to rather differently between Amnesty International and Freedom House, which brings more complexity to this issue. Thus, future research on the subject with similar methodology should analyze data from more than two organizations in order to understand if any view is more common than the other.

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