Women's Lives and Public Policy: The International Experience

Women's Lives and Public Policy: The International Experience

Women's Lives and Public Policy: The International Experience

Women's Lives and Public Policy: The International Experience

Synopsis

This book considers the impact of public policy on various aspects of women's lives, including sex and birth, marriage and death, work and child rearing, and women's responses to those policies. Written by scholars who have lived on five continents, the work spans the First and Third Worlds, with several chapters providing case illustrations from Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Interdisciplinary in scope, the volume includes the fields of economics, politics, planning, and literature. The work is divided into two sections, with chapters in the first part considering the impact of economic and demographic policies on women and those in the second part considering policies relating to women's interpersonal relationships. Urban culture is considered in an epilogue.

Excerpt

Over the past two decades, there has been enormous growth in women's consciousness and organizing, touching people's lives in remote villages as well as urban centers in almost every part of the world. Millions of women globally are involved in this process, redefining their own reality and society's problems from the perspective of their experiences. Yet, public policy makers rarely engage in gender analysis or show much awareness of these developments or of how their policies affect women's lives. This book helps to redress this omission by examining several important issues in which the intersection between feminism and public policy is critical to women's future.

Women must address many aspects of public policy, including virtual exclusion from its formulators' innermost circles. This process often begins with defining new areas that affect women, which were not previously seen as political, such as reproductive rights, equal pay, childcare policies, or violence against women. Usually these are labeled "women's issues," a classification that unfortunately denies their importance to men's lives (and power), as well as assigns them to a separate and secondary sphere of public concern. Thus, although feminism has brought many problems onto the public agenda and out of the silence of the private sphere, the women's issues approach has not resulted in women being at the center of public policy discourse.

Another way of looking at women and public policy is to seek the integration of women into existing policies in major areas, such as development or democracy. This approach is particularly popular in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where political discussion is dominated by questions of national liberation and/ or development. However, women are finding that the issue is not simply one of integration into existing processes--be they revolutionary or mainstream. Rather, women must participate in developing policies at every stage and in . . .

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