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The Dynamics of Governmental Structure and the Advancement of Women: A Comparison of Sri Lanka and Malaysia

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Economic development, elite cooperation, and a lack of ethnic hostility are necessary for the advancement of women in developing countries. Clearly, the structure of government institutions has determinative power in mediating conflict, along with allowing women and ethnic groups the opportunities and benefits for political participation. Consociational democracies are excellent examples of institutions moderating ethnic tensions through accommodation and power-sharing. I address whether consociational democracy provides an environment conducive to women's political participation in developing countries. The paper examines the history and current status of women in Sri Lanka and Malaysia and notes that women in Malaysia, which uses consociational democracy, fare much better than women in Sri Lanka. The result is particularly compelling because Sri Lanka was believed to have a superior environment for development at the time of its independence than Malaysia. Differing governmental structures are believed to explain the relative success of women in Malaysia and their current difficulties in Sri Lanka.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Government, University of Redlands, Redlands, CA, 92373-0999, U.S.A.


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