Path: Janda: Political Parties, Home Page > Part 1: Table of Contents > Chapter 6, p. 55 > new issue variable

Basic Variable 5.19:
Rights of Women
Added as a new party issue after 1960

The variable attempts to evaluate to what extent a political party advocates equality for women. The issue distinguishes itself from "Basic Variable 5.12: Protection of Civil Rights" because of the unique role that gender plays within society. First, the rights of women is not a minority rights issue, defined in terms of protection of "the few" from the dictates of "the many." Secondly, gender crosses other lines of distinction such as race, religion or ethnic origin. Consequently, progressive steps in these areas do not mean progressive stances toward women in society. A third distinction is that the issue permeates many more facets of life, often in more subtle ways. The role of women at work, as a parent, as a spouse and before the legal system are only some of the dimensions where discriminatory practices may exist. For these reasons, a separate issue seemed to warrant itself.

The variable is measured straightforwardly in terms of extending full equality to women in society. On one end of the spectrum this means legislating strict practices of equality between men and women in all facets of life in addition to extending affirmative action type policies to correct past discriminatory practices. The other end is anchored by opposition to any policy aimed toward the expansion of women's rights. It might also include advocating a repeal of existing rights in order to preserve a more "traditional" role of men and women in society.

Operational Definition. The issue orientation scoring matrix is used with "weak," "moderate," and "strong" positions on both sides of the issue as defined below and scored assuming no conflict between program and practice.


Advocates full equality for women through legislative measures and favors comprehensive affirmative action initiatives to correct past inequalities in all major aspects of social and political life.


Advocates full equality for women but supports only limited legislative action. Opposes most affirmative action initiatives.


Supports existing legislation and advocates equality of opportunity for women within a limited scope. Opposes all affirmative action measures.


Includes ambiguous or contradictory positions.


Opposes discriminatory practices against women in principle, but believes existing legislation has gone "too far" and favors a reduction of some measures.


Opposes any legislative measures aimed toward protecting women that move beyond existing universal individual rights.


Advocates a more "traditional" role for men and women which requires a reduction of women's rights beyond existing individual rights.

return to Chapter on "Issue Orientation"