Women and Politics in the Third World

Women and Politics in the Third World

Women and Politics in the Third World

Women and Politics in the Third World

Synopsis

Women and Politics in the Third World is the first comprehensive textbook on women's political activities in the third world. It provides a feminist analytical perspective on the specific forms of resistance, organisation and negotiation by women in third world states. Using case studies, the book focuses on difference as a theoretical basis for investigating feminine political activism. Though Western analysts have attributed weakness to terms such as motherhood, marriage and domesticity, as choices made by non-Western women, the contributors show that such strategies are used by women to pursue particular goals such as seeking resources, welfare or freedom from oppression for their children. These strategies, the book suggests, should not be classified as unimportant or temporary and can be highly effective even within such discourses as Islamic fundamentalism. The contributors highlight differing political approaches in regions as diverse as Latin America, South East Asia, China and the Middle East.

Excerpt

Difference, equality, identity, politics, nationhood, sexuality and the state. As I write this preface, in the aftermath of the Conferences on Women held in and near Beijing, it is evident that it is these terms that set the boundaries of many of the enthusiastic and spirited debates. and it is also evident that it is precisely these terms that provide the frames for contemporary debates within academic Women's Studies. As new Women's Studies courses and writings continue to appear, placing these issues at their core, it is fast becoming apparent that there is still, however, a lack of books that address issues of women and politics specifically. It is that gap that this new series, Women and Politics, edited by Haleh Afshar and Mary Maynard, seeks to redress.

The Women and Politics series focuses on activities and struggles that fuel the dynamic of change in the formal/public domains, as well as in the informal/ personal domains. Thus, politics for this series is persuasively defined within a feminist context-to include the range of public and personal activities that women across the world engage with in order to obtain their public and domestic rights.

Women's relationship to formal, organised politics has often been one that highlights the tensions and contradictions in the workings of those politics. So, the lack of women in formal political structures demonstrates not only the institutional sexism generated by such politics, but also forces us to examine, and to decide when, and wether, those political structures are worth fighting, indeed dying, for. in a similar vein, women's involvement in domestic and community-based politics shows us that women's activities are often institutionally devalued. Or, if not devalued, then used to keep 'women in their place', as in the case of women's fertility and motherhood. Women's resistances, whether expressed as formal politics or as struggles within communities, have often not been seen for what they are-that is, as challenges to the state, or to nationhood, or to patriarchal formations, or, indeed, as challenges to all three. It is as challenges to all three-through formal politics, through political theory and through the informal and practical strategies built and used by women-that women's resistances are explored in this series.

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