Women and the Politics of Empowerment

Women and the Politics of Empowerment

Women and the Politics of Empowerment

Women and the Politics of Empowerment

Excerpt

This book, a thoroughly collaborative effort, represents the synthesis of our academic and political commitments. We, like many other women in this country, have worked toward two visions -- a feminist movement that represents women of all races and class backgrounds and a progressive popular movement rooted in the working class that takes seriously the needs, the leadership, and the ideas of women. We have conceived and completed this book during a historical period which clearly tests these visions.

As we write, many unions are experiencing unprecedented contract concessions and decreases in membership. The restructuring of an economy in crisis is accompanied by the portent of a permanent "underclass" comprised mainly of female-headed families living in poverty. Meanwhile, working-class families are taking the brunt of the decline in the economy -- the loss of many blue-collar union jobs and escalating costs for food, health care, day care, and other essential goods and services. Almost every day we see evidence of systematic attempts by the federal government to undermine civil rights, occupational health and safety, affirmative action, and other programs for the poor, for minorities, and for women. Local, regional, and national groups continue to fight for the programs and policies that will ensure their economic survival and expand their political clout. But the resilience and effectiveness of progressive movements, including the women's movement, have been affected by the shift to the right in the political climate of the 1980s. Futhermore, problems and contradictions internal to these movements have hampered a real coalition between the workingclass, women's, and civil rights movements.

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