Female Well-Being
Toward a global theory of social change

Billson, Janet Mancini; Fluehr-Lobban, Carolyn (eds.)
Publisher:  Zed Books Ltd., London, United Kingdom
Year Published:  2005
Pages:  413pp   ISBN:  1-84277-008
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX8380

This book emphasizes the need for global social change as gauged by the quality of women's lives in eleven countries of varying economic levels. It examines how the Industrial Revolution has been a great catalyst for female emancipation, as well as exploitation. It is divided into three sections consisting of 17 different chapters written by a variety of scholars: a three-chapter intro to the broad concept of female 'well-being' in which definitions are developed, eleven chapters of case studies, and three additional chapters which conclude with theory for future feminist activists.

Well-being is largely defined in relation to following women's issues: the treatment of migrant workers, refugees, and other displaced women; domestic violence; torture and rape; discriminatory law, practices, and regulations; and political voice. They argue that a significant indicator of well-being is defined by the ability to be seen and heard in the public sphere. In particular, the enfranchisement of women in positions of political, medical, and educational leadership is seen as crucial to social progress on the whole.

Each case study exemplifies global women activists who have fought for visibility. The chapters discuss women's rights efforts from the 20th century in the following countries: Canada, the United States, Colombia, Iceland, the UK, Croatia, Japan, Bangladesh, Thailand, South Africa, and Sudan. Each chapter begins with the accomplishments of women in the specific country, and concludes by assessing how their actions have moved the country towards gender equality. Each study is loaded with statistical charts and analyses, as well as comprehensive historical and political background information on the roles of women.

Although the authors universally condemn patriarchal society, each chapter carefully recognizes and respects the specific contexts and social structures within which women exist. This book is an excellent reference for modern feminist scholars and human rights activists. It stresses the inherent links between sex, race, and class oppression, and offers a pluralistic model of feminism - not limited to the efforts of Western women. In addition, it includes most of the authors' biographies which detail their academic accomplishments, as well as NGO affiliations. Bibliography and index are also included.

[Abstract by Sieglind Gatewood]

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