Between Uniformity and Polarization: Women's Empowerment in the Public Press of GCC States

Henriette Müller, Christin Camia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have increased their promotion of women in public life. The expansion of women's rights in these states functions as a central policy tool to stimulate modernization processes. This article investigates how the Gulf governments steer women's empowerment through the press. Regulated by the state, media outlets in GCC countries primarily serve to affirm and amplify the legitimacy of the government. Focusing on 15 English-language newspapers from 2008 to 2017, this article analyzes the degree to which women's empowerment in various arenas of society was addressed and the valence with which it was reported. Moreover, it analyzes whether foreign and domestic news were addressed differently. The article finds that once nondemocracies focus on women's rights, positive media portrayals, especially of domestic news, become central for legitimizing both women's empowerment and the regime. The article contributes to the growing literature on women's rights legislation and the state-media nexus in autocracies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-194
Number of pages29
JournalPolitics and Gender
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 7 2023


  • GCC states
  • autocracies
  • media
  • newspaper analysis
  • state feminism
  • women's empowerment
  • women's rights legislation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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