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    Elections and Democracy and Gender Equality

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    Many of us would agree that there is no democracy without elections, and we would probably add the stipulation that elections must be free and fair to count. After all, even authoritarian regimes pretend to have elections of some kind. Most of us would also probably argue that there’s more to defining democracy than just elections. Compare all the definitions of democracy provided in our sources and readings (Weeks 1-3). Using specific examples of democracies or states transitioning to democracies, make a case for how we can tell when a country has successfully transitioned into a democracy. What are the indicators of democracy beyond elections? Be sure to support your answer with specific examples.

    A democracy is when a state’s citizens believe that their elected system is operating in accordance within the rules and or laws as it is written. According to Lenard and Simeon, any deficit increases apprehension about the failure of democratic governance to arrive at its citizen’s expectations of democracy (Lenard and Simeon, 2012). Dissatisfaction with the democratic performance may result in detachment of its people (Lenard and Simeon, 2012). Overall, people want a civilized society and expects the government to hold people accountable for their actions or lack of. Different democracies works for different states. However, a democracy must be adhered to in order to be functional.

    There are two types of democracies: presidential and parliament system (AMU, Lesson Three, 2019). The key difference among these two systems is that in a Presidential system, the President is voted in by its citizens. In the Parliament, the executive leader of the Parliamentary system, the Prime Minister, is elected from the legislative branch. In the Presidential system, it is challenging to implement legislation, especially in the instances that the President has different beliefs than the legislative body. In the Parliamentary system, if the Parliament doesn’t like the Prime Minister then they can cast a vote of no confidence and replace him/her.

    According to Dahl, democracy requires: “elected officials, free, fair, and frequent elections, freedom of expression, and alternative sources of information, associated autonomy, and inclusive citizenship” (Dahl, 2005). For example, Canada and the United States are rated the highest democratic states in the world. However, there are concerns with the elements in both countries (Lenard and Richard, 2012). The constitutional structures of the governments are considered for the performance of democratic governments. In countries in which the democratic elements are not adhered to nor are supported, a democracy deficit exists. This may result in public or political protests, policy reform, loss of economic status, or even a dismissal of some sorts with the current command (Lenard and Simeon, 2012).

    Larry Diamond argues that there are 9 elements of democracy. In addition to the beliefs of Dahl, Diamond believes that all people should be treated equal and should be accepted as part of the community no matter their gender, race or religion. Moreover, he believes other elements for a democracy are accountability and written policies (AMU, Lesson Three, 2019). He claims that if all 9 elements exists then the state has achieved democracy. Essentially, it is operating within the parameters of their written policies and the citizens are content as the rules are being followed.

    Dahl seems to take an approach that is a bit old school style where the people’s feelings and emotions are not taken into consideration. Diamond’s beliefs for a democratic government appear to be more focused on ensuring the citizens are treated equal and have a voice with their state by means of voting. Diamond’s theory of democracy is more of a modern style of democracy.

    Indicators of democracy beyond an election consists of citizens have confidence with their leadership. Specifically, to do what is best for their country and citizens. For example, President Trump believes that building a wall to separate Mexico and the United States would benefit the American people by keeping bad guys out and blocking a large portion of drugs that make their way between the two countries. Some Americans do not support the wall; however, President Trump made this one of his objectives during his campaign if he were elected. He was voted in by the majority. So, it is expected that the president follows through with his campaign promises.

    It is up to each person to determine if these elements make a complete democratic government. So you can see, a democracy is a when a state’s citizens believe that their elected system in operating in accordance within the rules and or laws as it is written, According to Lenard and Simeon, any deficit increases apprehension about the failure of democratic governance to arrive at its citizen’s expectations of democracy (Lenard, Simeon, 2012). Dissatisfaction with the democratic performance may result in detachment of its people (Lenard, Simeon, 2012). Overall, people want a civilized society and they expect the government to hold people accountable for their actions.

    Even though gender impartiality matters when it comes to democracy, democracy results by the majority. To prevent a democracy from simply being the oppression of the few by the many, the government must ensure that minority groups are treated fairly and respectfully just as the majority groups are. But what makes us truly different from one another?

    American women won equality rights in 1920. Gender equality is a major element when it comes to a true and complete democracy. However, when people describe what is important for democracy, it is rarely ever mentioned that gender is an important element. Gender equality calls for equal influence and participation of men and women in the acquisition of power. This is to promote democracy and discourages gender discrimination. Should men and women be treated differently if the both have the same education and experience when the only thing different about them are body parts?

    Htun and Weldon claim that it is the individual states that establishes the baseline elements of gender equality, which ultimately establishes democracy in its entirety. However, many people contest the idea of full equality. Specifically, they claim that concepts are based on the knowledge of emerging countries and their customary democracies may not portrait reality to other countries (Htun and Weldon, 2010).

    Htun and Weldon remarks that in Europe, the Left and other groups with strong females usually have a pre-established percentage of women to authorize them to be part of an election process. But then there are some countries that do not have established standards for females so it is perceived that females are not eligible to solicit for government positions. Moreover, they claim that well to do countries are passive when with gender equality (Htun and Weldon, 2010). In such states, women take the stance that they are equivalent to men and have challenged their governments by means of demonstrations and women’s movements.

    In democracy, there is equal distribution of power between all people. It thus endeavor to increase the rate of equality and promote both the minority and majority to power. Larry Diamond believes that there are 9 components that creates a solid democracy. He claims that tolerance of all people is imperative, which allows acceptance of all people regardless of gender, race and or religion. In addition, he claims that freedom of people is important in all aspects. This allows people to share their opinion with others without any legal ramifications (AMU, Lesson Three, 2019). He claims that if all 9 of these elements exists then there is democracy. Note that there is no mention of gender, just equality. Tolerance can be defined as not discriminating against unempowered groups such as ethnic or religious groups. However, there is no reference to gender (AMU, Lesson Three, 2019). Equality translates to being equal in status, rights and opportunities.

    Martin claims that in Japan more women take part in elections than men. This has been the norm for more than thirty years. She argues that women are taking control and closing the distance that exists between females and the government, thus, allowing them to have a say to better their people and their country (Martin, 2011). Martin argues that Japanese women want to better their country by “community development” and better educational systems and the way for them to achieve this is to vote by majority (Martin, 2011).

    In reality, women earn lower salaries for the same job as men who have higher salaries. This is an example of democracy deficit and should be fixed by our government. In a country that has a democratic deficit, a women reports her rape, she is found at fault due to her gender and the male walks away without any punishment. This is what happens in Pakistan. If a married women is raped and she reports it, she is found to have committed a crime and is charged with adultery and then man who raped her has no repercussions (Htun and Weldon, 2010).

    While many barriers have been conquered with gender equality, there is still a ways to go to make this whole. Women should have the same rights and opportunity as males for two main reasons. First, a woman’s opinion will contribute to the issues at hand. But most importantly, gender equality must be considered to ensure a true democracy is established and maintained. So, in closing, gender equality is a requirement for democracy.


    1. Wylie, Paula, 2019. “Reversing Democracy’s Decline.” Lesson Three, IRLS 300, American Military University Online Reading.
    2. Htun, M., & Weldon, S. L. (2010). When do governments promote women’s rights? A framework for the comparative analysis of sex equality policy. Perspectives on Politics, 8(1), 207-216. doi:
    3. Martin, Sherry L. 2011. Popular Democracy in Japan: How Gender and Community Are Changing Modern Electoral Politics. NY: Cornell University Press. ProQuest Ebook Central.
    4. Lenard, Patti Tamara, and Simeon, Richard, eds. 2012. Imperfect Democracies: The Democratic Deficit in Canada and the United States. Vancouver: UBC Press.
    5. Wylie, Paula, 2019. “Reversing Democracy’s Decline.” Lesson Three, IRLS 300, American Military University Online Reading.
    6. Dahl, Robert A. ‘What Political Institutions Does Large-Scale Democracy Require?’ Political Science Quarterly 120, no. 2 (2005): 187-97.
    7. Question 2: Gender. Is gender equality a requirement of democracy? Use the readings that address this topic to support your answer.

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