S. Laurel Weldon, professor in the Department of Political Science, researches the political forces that lead to advances—or rollbacks—in gender equality policies.

S. Laurel Weldon wins Human Rights Book award for The Logics of Gender Justice

July 26, 2019
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S. Laurel Weldon, political science, has won the prestigious Human Rights Best Book Award for 2019 from the International Studies Association.

The Logics of Gender Justice: State Action on Women’s Rights Around the World, co-authored with Mala Htun, addresses topics such as violence against women, family law, abortion and contraception, religious affiliations, and the complex political and social structures within which these issues evolve and are negotiated.

The impetus for Weldon’s work has been to understand the political forces that lead to advances—or rollbacks—in gender equality policies around the world. Her future projects will use big data to enrich this understanding.

“Women’s rights are so important, not just because women’s rights are human rights, but also because they are critical for developing strong democracies, economies and families,” Weldon says. “The development of laws and policies on women’s rights is complex, and requires attention to the specific context and histories of the country in question; but my past and future work aims to identify patterns that help us understand why sometimes governments seem to support significant advances in women’s rights in some areas, while rolling them back or failing to advance them in others.”

Weldon is the author of more than two dozen articles and book chapters as well as two other books which preceded her most recent award-winning work: When Protest Makes Policy: How Social Movements Represent Disadvantaged Groups, which won the Victoria Schuck Award, and Protest, Policy and the Problem of Violence Against Women. She is also co-editor of the Oxford Handbook on Politics and Gender and founding co-editor of the journal Politics, Groups and Identities.

“In spite of the simple story lines about religion, women in government, or left parties that many people would have us believe, there are no simple stories when it comes to understanding how women’s rights develop (or are undermined) so there is always more too discover, which is what makes this work so intriguing,” says Weldon.

Weldon has recently moved to Simon Fraser University from Purdue University, where she was Distinguished Professor and Director of the Purdue Policy Research Institution. As an SFU alumnus (Political Science, 1991) Weldon was happy to return to Vancouver.  

"Vancouver has always been a home to me, and it remains a global centre of feminist activism and thought," she says.