Elevate Difference

Women's Movements in the Global Era: The Power Of Local Feminisms

The fight for equal rights is not an easy one. What many consider basic rights in one country are denied to women in another. Nevertheless, advocates for the women's movement continue to fight throughout the world. Women's Movements in the Global Era documents the history and current activity of the women's movements in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, India, China, Poland, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, Mexico, Palestine, Iran, and the United States. Each chapter begins with basic information fact sheet about the country, such as language and population, as well as detailed information about the current status of women, including literacy, political representation, and economic position.

Despite the differences in political conditions and the location in the world, many of these movements share similarities. For example, the words used in the movement have a big impact, or moreover, the creation of new words in the language needed for the women's movement. In the chapter, “The Chinese Women's Movement in the Context of Globalization,” authors Naihua Zhang and Ping-Chun Hsuing note that the Chinese language did not have a word for domestic violence until 1995. Before then, the closest word was dalaopo, which means wife beating and indicates that the wife is a piece of property.

Another word that has a stigma attached to it in many countries, including the United States, is feminism. Elzbieta Matynia, author of the chapter “Polish Feminism Between the Local and the Global: A Task of Translation,” states, “feminism, the word, which exists in [the Slavic] languages, is so pejoratively loaded that for a long time it was considered political suicide for a woman active in public life to identify herself with feminism and feminist issues.” To keep these movements going, many activists chose to identify their work as “gender equality” or “women's movement” to prevent alienating other people who have the negative connotation of the word feminist.

While a thick book, Women's Movements in the Global Era provides great insight to the work women are doing around the world in the name of gender equality. Some of the chapters include photographs of the work activists are doing. Each of the authors give an in-depth coverage of the women's movement in their country, and what they hope for in the future.

Written by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch, May 9th 2010

Awesome. Added it to my list of books to read!