STEM Shoutout: Mala Htun

UNM Political Science professor wins award for best human rights book

The Logics of Gender Justice: State Action on Women’s Rights around the World by UNM Political Science Professor Mala Htun, was recognized as the best book on Human Rights 2018 by the International Studies Association.


Htun said that she was delighted to win this award. She co-wrote the book with political science professor S. Laurel Weldon from Simon Fraser University.


“(We) worked on this book for a long time. We hatched the idea years ago, but the course of our lives got in the way of finalizing the project,” Htun said.


The book analyzes political conflicts over women’s rights legislation in countries with different histories, culture, and institutions. Htun and Weldon built a “massive and original” dataset on women’s rights laws from 70 countries, according to Htun.


Htun said that the two also conducted field work in numerous countries and spent “countless hours” discussing ideas and concepts to include in the final product. They managed a team of researchers from the New School for Social Research and Purdue University, where they both worked at the origins of the project.


The National Science Foundation funded the research behind the award-winning book.


“We wrote this book because people–in the academy, in the policy community, and in international organizations–have a tendency to see women’s rights as one thing, as a matter of progress on a single dimension,” Htun said. “We have long argued that women’s rights are multi-dimensional, and that advances in one area, such as gender violence, do not imply advances in another… Different ideas, conflicts, histories, and policy legacies are at stake.”