Women in Transition: The Revolution Effect on Gender (In)Equality


In the wide spectrum of revolutions in the 20th century, countries that experienced revolutions with socialist aims exhibited higher scores across indicators of gender equality in the immediate post-revolutionary period. However, several of these transitions led to an initial push in gender equality, followed by a reversal or regression resulting either from an end to the revolutionary regime—such as those in the Eastern Bloc (Matynia 1994)—or from market-oriented reforms–such as those in Vietnam (Jacobs, 2008). One exception to this regressive trend is the case of Cuba, where distributive mechanisms and the conception of citizenship have maintained an egalitarian aspiration despite the presence of deep economic shocks and social tensions, as well as a change in leadership. What explains the variation in gender inequality exhibited across countries that experienced a socialist revolution? Little has been said by political science scholars about the reasons why some groups are favored over others, or about the durability of inclusionary projects and reforms sparked by revolutionary movements.

My research project aims at explaining why and when women are included or excluded from communist revolutionary projects, and more specifically evaluate why revolutionary or transition leaders in Cuba targeted gender inequality via two key channels: property rights and political rights. When did revolutionary leaders treat women’s property rights and citizenship differently? Were they subject to different political or wartime opportunities or constraints? Have these trends intensified or regressed over time?

Johanna Reyes Ortega
Publication date: 
August 1, 2023
Publication type: 
Student Research