Females Improve Human Rights

This article in the current issue of the Journal of Human Rights concludes that female chief executives of a country improve human rights practices to a greater degree than their male counterparts.

Written by Courtney Burns and Amanda Murdie, the article is titled Female Chief Executives and State Human Rights Practices: Self-fulfilling the Political Double bind.


What role does gender of a country’s chief executive play in human rights practices of that country? Do female leaders treat the citizens of their country better or worse than their male counterparts? We explore whether gender makes a difference in human rights practices in an effort to examine whether leader characteristics can affect human rights. Previous research has found that countries with higher levels of gender equality, measured by the percentage of women in parliament, have fewer physical integrity rights violations. However, previous research has not found an association between female chief executives and better human rights practices overall, despite clear theoretical arguments for a relationship (Melander 2005). Using updated data on female chief executives for the years 1984 to 2011, together with a robust treatment effects estimator, we find that female chief executives do improve human rights when compared to their male counterparts.

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