The right to be free: Is media freedom good news for women's rights?
327 - 355
Journal of Institutional Economics
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Copyright © Millennium Economics Ltd 2016. Using an extensive dataset covering 187 countries during 1993-2011, this paper explores the impact of media freedom from government control on women's rights. To measure women's rights, we consider economic, political and social rights that capture the extent of government's respect for these rights at country level over time. A free press improves government's accountability to the society and leads to better governance. In the context of women's rights, a free press can enhance positive rights by helping women raise voices and gain recognition, and thereby making the government create a more conducive environment for women's empowerment. Further, higher press freedom can reduce the infringement of negative rights by calling for greater public accountability. Yet, a free media, while necessary, may not be sufficient in enhancing such rights, and other institutional factors related to a country's development might be essential to reap the benefit of a free media. Our estimated marginal impacts show that greater access of media (in the form of internet and mobile users) and countries with greater democratic capital enhance the impact of media freedom on women's economic and social rights, with little effect on political rights.