Women’s Movements in the Global Era Instructor Resources

Teaching Materials for Women’s Movements in the Global Era, 2nd Edition

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Classroom Activities

Download all Classroom Activities (.zip, 130 KB)


Chapter 1: Women’s Movements in Africa

Aili Mari Tripp

Classroom Activities
Watch the following videos and discuss in light of the chapter:


Chapter 2: A History of Feminist Moments: The South African Women’s Movement, 1950–2014

Elaine Salo

Classroom Activities

  1. Present students with data from the Gender Map index on South Africa on the gap between men and women in four key areas: economic participation and opportunity, access to basic and higher education, political power and representation, and health and survival. Evaluate the extent of the gaps in these four areas and ask the students to identify some of the factors that explain these gaps.
  2. Have students compare the Women’s Charter for Effective Equality and the South African Constitution’s provisions for the rights of women and LGBT groups. Which of the demands in the Charter did the Constitution include and exclude? Ask students to describe the similarities and differences between these two documents.
  3. Ask students to draw a timeline of women’s movements in South Africa from the 1950s to the present, identifying key feminist moments and identifying their relationship to broader political events.
  4. Imagine that you are working with a western funding agency that could fund a small number of NGOs in South Africa. What kinds of groups would you fund? What if any restrictions would you place on their activities and use of these funds?
  5. Organize discussion around campaigns against gender violence in South Africa. Ask students to consider why, despite the fact that feminists have organized such large campaigns around the issue, South Africa continues to experience such high levels of sexual violence.


Chapter 3: Pakistan’s Women’s Movement: Protests, Programming, and Revitalization

Farida Shaheed

Classroom Activities

  1. Ask students to identify some common myths and misconceptions about women in Pakistan and women and Islam more broadly. Have them describe how this chapter challenges some of these myths and misconceptions.
  2. Organize a screening of one of the following films: Outlawed in Pakistan, Saving Face, or Jaloos, and discuss the film in light of the chapter.


Chapter 4: The Indian Women’s Movement Today: The Challenges of Addressing Gender-based Violence

Poulomi Pal

Classroom Activities

Activity #1
Goal: Explore contemporary debates around consent in relation to the definition of rape and punishment, given the new legislation on the Criminal Amendment Act 2013 in India.

Overview: In 2015, a Fulbright scholar visiting India from Columbia University was subjected to forced oral sex, and the accused perpetrator was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment in April 2016. The accused was a progressive, politically active filmmaker and a Dastangoi (Urdu story teller, protest performer). Using the readings below, assess the different views on this rape case.

Activity #2
Overview: Analyze the depiction of rape in India in Leslie Udwin’s film India’s Daughter (youtube.com/watch?v=ZQZQF1ip9gM). Organize a screening of the film and discuss the following questions:

  • How does the film depict unemployed youth in poverty as perpetrators of sexual violence, and societal perceptions about why rape occurs?
  • What does the film suggest is appropriate punishment for the rapists?
  • What does the film say about the role of judges and lawyers, especially defense lawyers?
  • Why do you think the state banned the film in India?
  • What do you think about the ethics of the filmmaker in interviewing men who had been convicted of gang rape?

Activity #3
Goal: Discussion on violence against women within the context of a broader overview of gender-based violence in India.
Overview: Discuss the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, and the visit to India of the Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo, shortly after the changes in rape law after the Nirbhaya case in India. The report can be found here: refworld.org/docid/53982c3e4.html. Once students have read this report, discuss the following questions:

  • What are some of the ways in which violence against women manifests? What are its causes and consequences?
  • Are there links between inequality, discrimination, patriarchy, and violence against women?
  • What is the difference between gender-based violence and violence against women?
  • How does violence against women invalidate basic human rights? Examine this especially in relation to other rights (political, cultural, social, economic etc.).
  • What are some of the challenges in implementation of state obligations toward elimination of violence against women?


Chapter 5: Feminist Struggles in a Changing China

Wang Zheng

Classroom Activities

  1. Ask students to conduct online research on visual representations of Chinese women in the socialist period and post-socialist period and present their findings in class. Discuss what they have found.
  2. Ask students to conduct online research on the 2015 incident of the Detention of the Feminist Five and the global feminist mobilization demanding their release. Students present their findings in class.
  3. Ask students to design performance actions on issues concerning them in their own contexts, as a way to experience the innovative activities of young feminists in China.


Chapter 6: Varieties of European Women’s Movements

Silke Roth

Classroom Activities

  1. Identify countries in Western, Southern, Northern, and Eastern Europe. Pick one country for each region and compare the women’s movements in the four countries.
  2. Do an online search on European women’s networks and compare their activities.
  3. Look up the Gender Equality Index on the website of the European Institute for Gender Equality (eige.europa.eu/gender-statistics/gender-equality-index). Which European country is most gender equal? Which country is most gender unequal?


Chapter 7: Russian Women’s Activism: Grassroots Persistence in the Face of Challenges

Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom

Classroom Activities

Activity #1
Separate the class into three groups and assign each group one of the following scenarios:

  • You are a women’s organization with 100% funding from Western donor organizations (state development agencies and/ or private foundations).
  • You are a women’s organization with office space provided by the local government in a municipal building, and frequent success in obtaining grants from the federal government.
  • You are a grassroots initiative of young women with no funding, but enthusiastic volunteers and social media skills.

Each group must answer the following questions:

  • What do you see as the benefits of your resource base?
  • What do you see as the risks of your resource base?
  • What can you do to mitigate the risks over the long term? Are there any organizational implications for how the organization will develop?

Activity #2
Break the class into pairs. One person will play the role of a senior woman who grew up and spent most of her adulthood in the Soviet era; the other will play the role of a married mother currently in her thirties. Each “woman” will take a turn asking questions of the other about her life experiences and reflections on them, and the other woman will respond in character. What themes emerge that are shared between the women, and where do their experiences differ or perhaps even lead to disagreements?

Activity #3
Each student pretends to be a young feminist trying to devise a strategy of how to attract support for feminism among regular Russian women. Think for five minutes alone to come up with one concrete idea about a gender issue to focus on, or a mode of campaign messaging that has a good chance of success, based on what you have learned from reading this chapter.


Chapter 8: Women’s and Feminist Movements in the United States: The Contradictory Effects of Class-based Success

Benita Roth

Classroom Activities

  1. In a group or on your own, do a Google search for “family leave” and look for comparative country-level data. What kinds of countries have (paid) family leave policies? What do the parameters of paid and unpaid leave seem to be? How does the US rank among countries with family leave?
  2. Imagine that the US has a viable feminist political party. What would such a party be named? What would its platform be; that is, what policies would it advocate for? What are the likely chances for enacting parts of that platform—which policies would be most politically viable?
  3. Use Google Image Search to look at images of the following terms (just look at the first two pages or so): “feminists” and “feminism.” Describe the images themselves, and describe what kinds of differences exist between those called up for “feminists” and those for “feminism.” What patterns do you see?


Chapter 9: Seeking Rights from the Left: Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

Elisabeth Jay Friedman

Classroom Activities

  1. Using the BBC, Al Jazeera, the New York Times, and similar news sources, assign half of the class to look into any major political changes in the countries under examination here. Meanwhile, have the other half of the class explore databases such as the World Values Survey, the UNDP’s statistics, or the Inter-Parliamentary Union to consider the most current data on the issues discussed in this chapter. Then have the whole class correlate the information they have found. What impact do transformations in country governance seem to have had on gender-based or sexuality-related social and political outcomes? Is that what the chapter would predict?
  2. Before the class meeting, split the class into four groups, and assign each group to read the chapter while focusing on one particular country. During class, reorganize the groups so that each in-class group has at least one country “expert” from each of the four countries. Discuss similarities and differences among the countries, and end by considering whether the class agrees with the interpretation the chapter offers of the impact of Pink Tide governance on gender- and sexuality-related policy and politics.
  3. Have the class list and explore the different factors used to explain why Pink Tide governments do or do not take action on gender- and sexuality-related policy issues. Considering the list, discuss to what extent they think similar factors play a role in their own country’s policymaking.


Chapter 10: State Feminism and Women’s Movements in Brazil: Achievements, Shortcomings, and Challenges

Cecilia M. B. Sardenberg and Ana Alice Alcantara Costa

Classroom Activities

  1. Organize a debate with two groups, one defending and one criticizing “state feminisms.”
  2. Construct a periodized timeline of Brazilian feminisms since the 1970s, marking the major events and achievements.
  3. Elaborate in class a comparative frame of major achievements, as well as shortcomings, of feminist and women’s movements in your country and in Brazil, engaging students in a discussion of similarities, differences, and what may have contributed to the different courses of development in each country.


Chapter 11: Feminist Movements in the Maghreb

Valentine M. Moghadam

Classroom Activities

  1. Have the students prepare a document in preparation for the Beijing +25 Conference. The students will divide up into groups and each group will focus on one of three countries: Algeria, Morocco, or Tunisia. In order to prepare their documents, they will: (a) do research on conditions with respect to key human development indicators; (b) explore changes in these indicators since 1995; (c) propose policy changes to address gaps in the legal rights of women and the socio-economic conditions of working-class and poor women. When the class convenes, each group will present their findings and recommendations at the global conference.
  2. Students will research the provisions of family law in different regions of the Maghreb and identify how these laws have been reformed and where further reform is necessary. They will also discuss strategies for achieving law reform within the political environment of the countries they are studying.


Chapter 12: The Palestinian Women’s Movement

Islah Jad

Classroom Activities

  1. Form two groups to debate the impact of NGOs on social movements.
  2. Form two groups to roleplay the Islamist/secular divide.
  3. Have students create a presentation on how universal discourse affects and impacts local women and feminist movements.


Chapter 13: The Women’s Movement and Feminism in Iran: Revisiting a Glocal Perspective

Nayereh Tohidi

Classroom Activities

  1. Compare and contrast the sharia-based family law in Iran with the laws in Turkey, Tunisia, or Morocco in terms of the extent of egalitarian reform. Explain the reasons for differences and analyze the role of geopolitical and cultural factors or players such as state elites, Islamic clerics (scholars), and feminist intervention, especially the women’s rights movements, in facilitating or hindering such reforms. It will be helpful if you watch the following documentary film before engaging in this discussion:
    https://freedocumentaries.org/documentary/divorce-iranian-style
  2. After reviewing the articles below, discuss the symbolic significance of Neda Agha Soltan and Zahra Rahnavard in the Green Movement of Iran, and how each of them has signified and represented the women’s contribution and feminist aspects of the pro-democracy movement in Iran.
  3. As a class, discuss the politics, advantages or disadvantages, and dilemmas that Iranian feminist activists face with regard to their interactions or connections with international donor agencies. Why have even the international prizes awarded to some Iranian leading feminist figures, such as Shirin Ebadi, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and Narges Mohammadi, been seen as a mixed blessing? Discuss any policy recommendations students may have. As a supplement to this chapter, see the short reports below:

Discussion Questions

Download all Discussion Questions (.zip, 73 KB)


Chapter 1: Women’s Movements in Africa

Aili Mari Tripp

Discussion Questions

  1. What factors account for the expansion of women’s movements in Africa after the 1990s?
  2. How were the new movements different from the ones during the single-party era?
  3. What were the historic influences on the women’s movements?
  4. What factors gave rise to the women’s movement in Uganda?
  5. What political impact did the Ugandan women’s movement have?


Chapter 2: A History of Feminist Moments: The South African Women’s Movement, 1950–2014

Elaine Salo

Discussion Questions

  1. In what ways did apartheid policies have damaging consequences for both Black men and Black women? Which of these policies were especially detrimental to Black women?
  2. What were the different forms of activism that Black and White women engaged in during the anti-apartheid era, and how would you assess the extent to which they participated in joint struggles?
  3. What gains did women make and what setbacks did they experience in post-apartheid South Africa?
  4. To what extent—and during which periods—have women been most able to work with the South African state in the quest to achieve gender equality?
  5. Why have customary laws been detrimental to women’s rights?


Chapter 3: Pakistan’s Women’s Movement: Protests, Programming, and Revitalization

Farida Shaheed

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you evaluate the impact on feminist movements of the growth of women’s rights NGOs in Pakistan? What are the benefits and drawbacks to feminists of relying on donor funding?
  2. How would you describe the different phases and stages of the women’s movement in Pakistan? What helps account for these changes?
  3. The women’s movement in Pakistan has been both expressive and instrumental. How would you describe these two dimensions of the movement, and how would you assess their relative effectiveness?
  4. What light does this chapter shed on the extent to which the women’s movement in Pakistan emerged as a result of national conditions versus global influences?
  5. What are the most significant achievements of the women’s movement in Pakistan?


Chapter 4: The Indian Women’s Movement Today: The Challenges of Addressing Gender-based Violence

Poulomi Pal

Discussion Questions

  1. What role have public protests, feminist demands, and civil society groups played in pressuring the Indian government to make legal and policy changes around gender and sexual violence at different periods of time?
  2. Which organizations and institutions constitute the women’s movement in India today? Are feminist organizations and NGOs part of the women’s movement? How would you analyze the role of donors in setting the agenda for feminist NGOs?
  3. There are intrinsic links between the women’s movement and legal jurisprudence on gender inequality. How have they influenced each other and what light does this shed on the trajectory of the women’s movement? How has feminist activism influenced laws and policy changes around sexual assault?
  4. During which periods has the relationship between the women’s movement and the state been most fraught? How have feminist organizations worked with the state while still being critical of it?
  5. How self-reflective is the women’s movement in India about inclusiveness and in representing marginalized women? What role do young feminists play in the women’s movement in India today?


Chapter 5: Feminist Struggles in a Changing China

Wang Zheng

Discussion Questions

  1. In what ways have Chinese feminist struggles been embedded in global processes? What specific global processes does the chapter cover?
  2. Why does the author structure the chapter by highlighting “three cohorts” of Chinese feminists? What are the pros and cons of this organizational strategy?
  3. What does the author intend to convey by proposing the concept of “compressed temporalities”?
  4. Please identify the key terms that refer to different strategies adopted by different cohorts of Chinese feminists. Discuss the specific local contexts against which such strategies became necessary, as well as their limitations.
  5. How do you understand the author’s critique of some Western feminist scholars’ efforts to look for “an autonomous feminist movement” in China?


Chapter 6: Varieties of European Women’s Movements

Silke Roth

Discussion Questions

  1. Distinguish different “waves” of European women’s movements. Does such a distinction make sense?
  2. What is state feminism? Does it still exist?
  3. How do women’s movements in Western Europe differ from women’s movements in other European regions?
  4. What role does the European Union play for European women’s movements?
  5. What impacts have information and communication technologies had on European women’s movements?


Chapter 7: Russian Women’s Activism: Grassroots Persistence in the Face of Challenges

Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom

Discussion Questions

  1. What explains sustained low levels of feminist consciousness and mobilization in Russia?
  2. What are the major gender issues that Russian women’s organizations have focused on, and why do you think they have done so?
  3. What would you say is distinctive about gender issues and feminist organizing in Russia, and what aspects are shared with experiences in other countries?
  4. Which elements of the Soviet era have lingering effects on gender politics in Russia, and in what ways?
  5. On balance, would you say foreign funding has helped women’s organizing in Russia, or harmed it?
    Explain your answer.


Chapter 8: Women’s and Feminist Movements in the United States: The Contradictory Effects of Class-based Success

Benita Roth

Discussion Questions

  1. What are your reactions to the fact that US women are still fighting for reproductive rights, paid family leave, pay equity, and an end to violence against women?
  2. Would greater connections between US-based feminists and feminists from other countries benefit women in the United States? Why or why not?
  3. What are the advantages of having “class-based” feminist movements, that is, feminist movements with their participant bases among poor, working-class, and middle- or upper-class women? Is there such a thing as “trickle-down” feminism? Why or why not?
  4. Is it possible for social movements to address social problems in an intersectional manner?
  5. What would an ideal feminist set of social policies look like in the United States?


Chapter 9: Seeking Rights from the Left: Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

Elisabeth Jay Friedman

Discussion Questions

  1. The “Pink Tide” is often seen to be made of more and less radical governments. Which seem to be more open to women’s and LGBT advocates and their demands? Why do you think that is?
  2. What are the advantages and drawbacks of comparing feminist and women’s movements and demands alongside those of LGBT populations?
  3. Why have “Pink Tide” governments accomplished more with respect to social welfare than demands for bodily autonomy and gender/relationship recognition?
  4. What seem to be the most effective strategies for the advancement of women’s and LGBT rights?
  5. The record of left-leaning governments is inconsistent when it comes to women’s and LGBT rights. What difference might it make to have right-leaning governments in power?


Chapter 10: State Feminism and Women’s Movements in Brazil: Achievements, Shortcomings, and Challenges

Cecilia M. B. Sardenberg and Ana Alice Alcantara Costa

Discussion Questions

  1. In what context have contemporary feminist and women’s movements emerged in Brazil? How have their struggles unfolded in recent decades, and what were some of their major achievements?
  2. How has the process of the professionalization of feminism impacted the advancement of women’s rights in Brazil? How has this differed from other national contexts?
  3. Feminist and women’s movements in Brazil have been more successful in furthering their struggles to confront violence against women than in guaranteeing sexual and reproductive rights. What have been their major gains and setbacks in these important causes?
  4. What is here understood by “participatory state feminism”? What factors have contributed to the emergence of this form of state feminism in Brazil? How does it operate?
  5. What are some of the major contributions as well as the major limitations of state feminisms in advancing women’s demands for gender justice?


Chapter 11: Feminist Movements in the Maghreb

Valentine M. Moghadam

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the most significant achievements of women’s movements in the Maghreb? What are the major challenges and constraints they have faced?
  2. What impact has the rise of Islamism had on women’s movements in the Maghreb? How have women’s movements responded to this challenge?
  3. How would you describe the different kinds of transnational activities that women from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia have participated in?
  4. What similarities and differences can you discern between women’s movements in the Maghreb and women’s movements in other areas of the global South?


Chapter 12: The Palestinian Women’s Movement

Islah Jad

Discussion Questions

  1. Is there a relationship between the growing number of NGOs and the weakening of social movements?
  2. Can NGOs play a leading role in social and political change? And if yes, under what conditions?
  3. When and under what circumstances can the relationship between NGOs and social movements can be fruitful in social change?
  4. Is universal discourse on women’s rights hindering or supporting the development of local feminism?
  5. Under what circumstances can Islamists and secularists in the Middle East reach a common-ground agenda?


Chapter 13: The Women’s Movement and Feminism in Iran: Revisiting a Glocal Perspective

Nayereh Tohidi

Discussion Questions

  1. What does the author mean by “feminism being intertwined with nationalism” in Iran and many post-colonial countries?
  2. How would you characterize feminist activism and the women’s movement in Iran? Give 3–5 examples about the main strategies and tactics in this movement, and explain how they are or are not related to the Islamist and repressive nature of the state.
  3. Explain why in most Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, the process of egalitarian reforms in personal status and family law has remained painfully slow and difficult to achieve.
  4. Discuss and contextualize the main arguments and reasons for tension over Islamic feminism. Does the pragmatic approach taken by the author of this chapter make sense to you?
  5. What lessons, if any, can be learned from Iranian women’s experiences of feminist activism and women’s rights movements at the regional, international, or global levels?

Suggestions for Further Research

Download all Suggestions for Further Research (.zip, 90 KB)


Chapter 1: Women’s Movements in Africa

Aili Mari Tripp

Suggestions for Further Research
Hassim, Shireen. Women’s Organizations and Democracy in South Africa: Contesting Authority. Women in Africa and the Diaspora. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.

Kang, Alice J. Bargaining for Women’s Rights: Activism in an Aspiring Muslim Democracy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

Maathai, Wangari. Unbowed: A Memoir. New York: Alfred Knopf, 2006.

Salime, Zakia. Between Feminism and Islam: Human Rights and Sharia Law in Morocco. Social Movements, Protest, and Contention 36. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

Tripp, Aili, and Isabel Casimiro, Joy Kwesiga, and Alice Mungwa. African Women’s Movements: Transforming Political Landscapes. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.


Chapter 2: A History of Feminist Moments: The South African Women’s Movement, 1950–2014

Elaine Salo

Suggestions for Further Research
Daymond, Margaret J., ed. South African Feminisms: Writing, Theory, and Criticism, 1990–1994. Routledge, 2013.

Gouws, Amanda. “Recognition and Redistribution: State of the Women’s Movement in South Africa 20 Years after Democratic Transition.” Agenda 28.2 (2014): 19–32.

Gouws, Amanda. “Women’s Activism Around Gender-Based Violence in South Africa: Recognition, Redistribution, and Representation.” Review of African Political Economy 43.149 (2016): 400–415.

Hassim, Shireen. The ANC Women’s League: Sex, Gender, and Politics. Ohio University Press, 2015.

Hassim, Shireen. “Texts and Tests of Equality: The Women’s Charters and the Demand for Equality in South African Political History.” Agenda 28.2 (2014): 7–18.


Chapter 3: Pakistan’s Women’s Movement: Protests, Programming, and Revitalization

Farida Shaheed

Suggestions for Further Research
Ali, Shaheen Sardar. “Law, Islam, and the Women’s Movement in Pakistan.” International Perspectives on Gender and Democratisation. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2000: 41–63.

Rouse, Shahnaz. “Women’s Movement in Pakistan: State, Class, Gender.” Perspectives on Modern South Asia: A Reader in Culture, History, and Representation. Wiley-Blackwell, 2011: 321.

Khan, Nighat Said. “The Women’s Movement Revisited: Areas of Concern for the Future.” Global Feminist Politics: Identities in a Changing World. Routledge, 2000: 5.

Ahmed-Ghosh, Huma, ed. Contesting Feminisms: Gender and Islam in Asia. SUNY Press, 2015.

Shaheed, Farida and Aisha Lee Shaheed. Great Ancestors: Women Claiming Rights in Muslim Contexts. Oxford University Press, 2011.


Chapter 4: The Indian Women’s Movement Today: The Challenges of Addressing Gender-based Violence

Poulomi Pal

Suggestions for Further Research
Ray, Raka. Fields of Protest: Women’s Movements in India. University of Minnesota Press, 1999.

Menon, Nivedita. Recovering Subversion: Feminist Politics Beyond the Law. Permanent Black, 2004.

Kannabiran, Kalpana and Ritu Menon. From Mathura to Manorama: Resisting Violence Against Women in India. Women Unlimited, 2007.

Gandhi, Nandita and Nandita Shah. The Issues at Stake: Theory and Practice in the Contemporary Women’s Movement in India. Kali for Women, 1992.

Baxi, Pratiksha. Public Secrets of Law: Rape Trials in India. Oxford University Press, 2013.


Chapter 5: Feminist Struggles in a Changing China

Wang Zheng

Suggestions for Further Research
Wang Zheng. Finding Women in the State: A Socialist Feminist Revolution in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–1964. University of California Press, 2016.

Cong Xiaoping. Marriage, Law, and Gender in Revolutionary China. Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Ping-Chun Hsiung et al., eds. Chinese Women Organizing. Berg, 2001.

University of Michigan Global Feminisms Project—China site: http://umich.edu/~glblfem/en/china.html

Hershatter, Gail. Women in China’s Long Twentieth Century. University of California Press, 2007.


Chapter 6: Varieties of European Women’s Movements

Silke Roth

Suggestions for Further Research

  • How have women’s movements responded to austerity measures in European countries? How does this vary by country?
  • How have women’s movements responded to populist, right-wing movements in Europe? How does this vary by country?
  • How diverse are European women’s movements with respect to race, ethnicity, and sexuality? How does this vary by country?
  • With what other social movements do European women’s movements form coalitions? How does this vary by country?
  • What are the activities of European women’s networks?

Suggestions for Further Reading
Agustin, L.R. The Politics of Intersectionality: Gender Equality, Intersectionality, and Diversity in Europe. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Dean, J. and K. Aune. “Feminism Resurgent? Mapping Contemporary Feminist Activisms in Europe.” Social Movement Studies 14(4), 2015: 375–395.

Kantola, J. and J. Squires. “From State Feminism to Market Feminism?” International Political Science Review 33(4), 2012: 382–400.

Ferree, M. M. Varieties of Feminism: German Gender Politics in Global Perspective. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012.

Montoya, C. From Global to Grassroots: The European Union, Transnational Advocacy, and Combating Violence Against Women. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Roth, S., ed. Gender Politics in the Expanding European Union: Mobilization, Inclusion, Exclusion. Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books, 2008.


Chapter 7: Russian Women’s Activism: Grassroots Persistence in the Face of Challenges

Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom

Suggestions for Further Research
Hrycak, Alexandra. “Foundation Feminism and the Articulation of Hybrid Feminisms in Post-Socialist Ukraine.” East European Politics and Societies 20(1), 2006: 69–100.

Johnson, Janet Elise and Jean C. Robinson, eds. Living Gender after Communism. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2007.

Sperling, Valerie. Organizing Women in Contemporary Russia: Engendering Transition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Sperling, Valerie. Sex, Politics, and Putin: Political Legitimacy in Russia. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Stella, Francesca. Lesbian Lives in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia: Post/socialism and Gendered Sexualities. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.


Chapter 8: Women’s and Feminist Movements in the United States: The Contradictory Effects of Class-based Success

Benita Roth

Suggestions for Further Research

Collins, Patricia Hill and Sirma Bilge. Intersectionality. Wiley Press: 2016.

Ferree, Myra Marx and Lisa Wade. Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. W.W. Norton & Company: 2016.

Katzenstein, Mary. “‘Redividing Citizens’—Divided Feminisms.” Women’s Movements Facing the Reconfigured State. Lee Ann Banaszak, Karen Beckwith, and Dieter Rucht, eds. Cambridge University Press: 2003.

Reger, Jo. Everywhere and Nowhere: Contemporary Feminism in the United States. Oxford University Press: 2013.

On the Black Lives Matter movement:
http://blacklivesmatter.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BlackLivesMatter/?fref=ts


Chapter 9: Seeking Rights from the Left: Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

Elisabeth Jay Friedman

Suggestions for Further Research
“How Pink Is the Pink Tide?” NACLA, March/April 2007.

Corrales, Javier and Mario Pecheny, eds. The Politics of Sexuality in Latin America: A Reader on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010.

Thayer, Millie. Making Transnational Feminism: Rural Women, NGO Activists, and Northern Donors in Brazil. New York: Routledge Press, 2009.

Dore, Elizabeth and Maxine Molyneux, eds. Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

Htun, Mala. Inclusion Without Representation in Latin America: Gender Quotas and Ethnic Reservations. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016.


Chapter 10: State Feminism and Women’s Movements in Brazil: Achievements, Shortcomings, and Challenges

Cecilia M. B. Sardenberg and Ana Alice Alcantara Costa

Suggestions for Further Research
In this chapter, we mentioned but did not provide a discussion of the pluralization of feminisms in Brazil and involvement in transnational movements. We suggest further research/reading on the following issues:

  1. Feminism and Black women’s movements in Brazil
  2. Lesbian, gay, and transgender movements in Brazil and their achievements
  3. Feminism and gender issues in the Landless People Movement (MST) in Brazil
  4. Young feminists and their involvement in the struggles against the recent coup d’etat in Brazil
  5. Feminisms and the rise of patriarchal conservatism and religious fundamentalisms in Brazil


Chapter 11: Feminist Movements in the Maghreb

Valentine M. Moghadam

Suggestions for Further Research
Chékir, Hafidha and Khedija Arfaoui. “Tunisia: Women’s Economic Citizenship and Trade Union Participation,” in Making Globalization Work for Women, Valentine M. Moghadam, Suzanne Franzway, and Mary Margaret Fonow, eds.: 71–92. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2011.

Karshenas, Massoud, Valentine M. Moghadam, and Nadereh Chamlou. “Women, Work and Welfare in the Middle East and North Africa: Introduction and Overview,” in Women, Work, and Welfare in the Middle East and North Africa, Nadereh Chamlou and Massoud Karshenas, eds.: 1–30. London: Imperial College Press, 2016.

Moghadam, Valentine M. and Elham Gheytanchi. “Political Opportunities and Strategic Choices: Comparing Feminist Campaigns in Morocco and Iran.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly of Social Movement Research 15, no. 3 (Sept. 2010): 267–88.

Moghadam, Valentine M., and Fatima Sadiqi. “Introduction and Overview: Women and the Public Sphere in the Middle East and North Africa.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 2, no. 2 (Spring 2006): 1–7.

Moghadam, Valentine M., Suzanne Franzway, and Mary Margaret Fonow, eds. Making Globalization Work for Women: The Role of Social Rights and Trade Union Leadership. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2011.


Chapter 12: The Palestinian Women’s Movement

Islah Jad

Suggestions for Further Research

  1. Use empirical research to contextualize the relations between NGOs and social movements.
  2. Research the changing and evolving discourse of Islamists in the Middle East.
  3. Research the forms of engagement between Islamist discourse and universal women’s rights conventions.
  4. Research how universal women’s rights and human rights affect national liberation movements.
  5. Read Choudry, Aziz. Learning Activism: The Intellectual Life of Contemporary Social Movements. University of Toronto Press, 2015.


Chapter 13: The Women’s Movement and Feminism in Iran: Revisiting a Glocal Perspective

Nayereh Tohidi

Suggestions for Further Research
Ahmadi Khorasani, Noushin. Iranian Women’s One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality: An Inside Story. English translation by Women’s Learning Partnership, Washington DC, 2009. http://www.learningpartnership.org/iran-oms-inside-story.

Sikand, Yoginder. “Understanding Islamic Feminism: Interview With Ziba Mir-Hosseini.” Countercurrents.org, 2010. http://www.countercurrents.org/sikand070210.htm.

Moghadam, Valentine. Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East, 3rd ed. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2013.

Paidar, Parvin. Women and the Political Process in Twentieth-Century Iran. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Tohidi, Nayereh. “Women and the Presidential Elections: Iran’s New Political Culture.” Informed Comment, 2009. http://www.juancole.com/2009/09/tohidi-women-and-presidential-elections.html.

Chapter Summaries

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Chapter 1: Women’s Movements in Africa

Aili Mari Tripp

Chapter Summary

Contemporary women’s movements in Africa have their origins in women’s mobilization within movements for independence and in the women’s organizations established early in the one-party era. Today’s movements emerged during struggles for democratization and in the context of peace movements during civil war. The new political space that opened up with democratization in the 1990s and in postwar contexts after 1990, but especially after 2000, has allowed for new forms of autonomous women’s mobilization. Women’s activism was also inspired by changing international norms regarding women’s rights, highlighted in the 1985 UN Conference on Women in Nairobi and the 1995 UN Conference on Women in Beijing. It was further strengthened by foreign donors’ new interest in supporting women’s mobilization, even if these funding trends were not always sustained.

As a result of such influences, the women’s organizations that emerged after the 1990s were characterized by their independence from national states and ruling parties. The organizations that formed in this period selected their own leaders and had their own sources of funding, which allowed them to chart their own agendas independent of the state and dominant party and enabled them to engage in greater policy advocacy, a marked shift from earlier mobilizations.

This chapter provides an overview of the development of contemporary African women’s movements. It first looks at the historical roots of contemporary women’s mobilization in Africa in struggles for independence, the single-party era, the period of democratization in the 1990s, and the decline of conflict starting in the 1990s. The chapter explores the factors leading to the rise of autonomous women’s movements after the 1990s and their impact on women’s rights reforms. It describes the key issues that have engaged women activists and the characteristics of women’s mobilization, illustrating the more general points with a closer look at Uganda as a case study.


Chapter 2: A History of Feminist Moments: The South African Women’s Movement, 1950–2014

Elaine Salo

Chapter Summary

With the end of apartheid, South African women and sexual minorities achieved an impressive array of legal rights and protections against discrimination that expanded their social, political, and economic opportunities. Women and LGBT communities have entered erstwhile white- and male-only spaces, such as the military, corporate governance, and the judiciary. The Constitution has legalized abortions and enabled lesbian and gay people to marry and parent, and enabled their children become legitimate heirs to their parents’ estates. South Africa has reduced the gender gap in education and employment and South African women are well represented in political institutions. Juxtaposed against these gains are persisting and sometimes deepening inequalities. Women and LGBT groups are subject to violence, reproductive rights are yet to be fully achieved, and traditional chiefs prevent rural women from achieving their constitutional rights.

This chapter argues that women’s movements achieved their most significant gains during two historical moments: in the 1950s and the 1990s. During both of these periods, women allied with a broad-based democratic movement to oppose the apartheid state and demand gender rights. By contrast, women’s movements have made fewer significant gains in the post-apartheid era, amidst the growth of conservative nationalism and neo-liberalism. The women’s movement has found it difficult to realize the fruits of formal legal rights, and gender-sensitive policy is inadequate to ensuring equality in women’s and sexual minorities’ ordinary lives.


Chapter 3: Pakistan’s Women’s Movement: Protests, Programming, and Revitalization

Farida Shaheed

Chapter Summary

Emerging in 1981, Pakistan’s contemporary women’s movement has gone through three distinct phases shaped by historical specificities and internal dynamics. A first intense phase of resisting the state-led erosion of rights in the name of Islam defied martial law and placed women permanently on the national agenda. The unstable democracies of the 1990s mark a second phase: street protests tempered with state engagements to formulate a gender-equality agenda leveraging opportunities presented by UN conferences. By 2005, energies centered on concretizing the agenda: more technical interventions, specialized silos of work, and a mushrooming of NGOs dissipated the sense of a movement. Today, despite more people claiming to be women’s rights advocates than ever before, the movement stands at a crossroads, in need of revitalizing its political agenda and reconsidering modalities.

To counter the relentless reshaping of public domains and discourses by the religious right in which new forms of apparel and normative behavior serve as markers of appropriated territories, the movement needs expressive dimensions that expand its cultural presence. Ultimately, rights are only enjoyed when they become an integral part of everyday culture. The human rights framework is essential but inadequate. Activists must reshape a dynamic indigenous culture. The movement must find ways of ensuring a constantly evolving feminist ideology at its core to anchor area-specific work in a political agenda, interweave the various strands of activism, and critically interrogate ongoing work—a role previously filled by the Women’s Action Forum as a financially and politically independent base. It must develop new modalities for occupying spaces, and further engage with mainstream political processes and other social movements. Finally, the movement must expand its human base numerically and in terms of location, class, age, and other differences to infuse itself with new thinking and modalities that allow it to simultaneously occupy multiple public spaces.


Chapter 4: The Indian Women’s Movement Today: The Challenges of Addressing Gender-based Violence

Poulomi Pal

Chapter Summary

The chapter examines the characteristics and development of the women’s movement in India, with particular attention to the way feminist groups, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have sought to change laws and policies regarding gender-based violence.

I chart several important developments, including the decline of autonomous women’s groups, the increase in foreign-funded feminist NGOs, and the growing collaboration between feminist groups and the state. I explore the impact the women’s movement has had on state policies and the state’s response to the movement. Case studies of feminist groups and women’s NGOs include the Lawyer’s Collective Women’s Rights Initiative, Majlis, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT). I also examine various aspects of service delivery (feminist counseling; coordination between police, courts, and hospitals; monitoring and evaluation of legislation on domestic violence and sexual violence; legal aid; filing of first incident reports (FIRs) and domestic incident reports (DIRs); and forensic evidence collection, etc.) through the One Stop Crisis Center.

The analytical questions I explore are as follows: How have feminists contributed to major policy and legal changes? Which of their efforts have been defeated and why? Has the Indian women’s movement become de-radicalized as it has increasingly engaged in service delivery and often collaborated with the state? What kinds of divisions have emerged among feminists around working with the state and accepting foreign funding? I also explore the difficulties some feminists have faced in working with a state that is in many ways openly hostile to both women’s rights and minority rights. In this context, the growing rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its right-wing Hindu nationalist agenda, misogynist patriarchal lawyers/judges, khap panchayats (unelected village elders in the northern states of India, especially in western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana), and politicians plays a crucial role in policy changes, legal jurisprudence, and the overall articulation of the problem of sexual violence in India.


Chapter 5: Feminist Struggles in a Changing China

Wang Zheng

Chapter Summary

The chapter presents a historical narrative of roughly three generations of Chinese feminists’ endeavors in changing contexts. Diverse programs and strategies of state feminists of the socialist period, NGO feminists following the World Women’s Conference in Beijing, and young feminist activists ascending onto the public stage in recent years are examined with close attention to the specific social context and political parameters of each cohort. Situated solidly in locally specific dynamics, Chinese feminism has also been part of global processes. Their struggles simultaneously have addressed local concerns and reflected impacts of global forces, including the global circulation of feminist concepts that has informed articulation of locally specific issues in important ways.

The chapter analyzes the politics of concealment that has been adopted by socialist state feminists as a major strategy to promote women’s interests from inside the male-dominated state power structure, and public performance activities adopted by young feminists who explore new forms of visibility of hidden gender injuries to raise public awareness of violations of women’s rights in contemporary Chinese society. The chapter also discusses increasing constraints and obstacles for the feminist pursuit of gender equality when the Chinese state abandoned socialist egalitarian mechanisms to embrace global capitalism, and tightened political control.


Chapter 6: Varieties of European Women’s Movements

Silke Roth

Chapter Summary

European women’s and feminist movements reflect European (and world) history, along with cultural and political differences. The mobilization of women and feminists in Europe has been shaped by colonialism and post-colonial relations, fascism, the Cold War, varieties of capitalism, the strength of labor movements, the impact of the Catholic Church, and membership in the European Union (EU). While there are some commonalities, there are also persistent distinctions between European women’s movements. European countries are characterized by a variety of welfare and gender regimes that result in different relationships between feminist movements and the state. European women’s movements have experienced state feminism and professionalization processes at different points in time and to varying degrees. They are characterized by diversity within and across countries, combining insider and outsider activism. There are also significant differences within regions: for example, with respect to variations in an authoritarian past, the role of the Catholic Church, and the status of sexual and ethnic minorities. Furthermore, countries joined the European Union at various times and EU membership had distinct consequences depending on the state of gender equality and gender policies prior to joining the EU. However, it needs to be kept in mind that the EU is not identical with Europe. Switzerland and Norway do not belong to the EU, Turkey is a candidate for membership, and in 2016 the UK decided to leave the EU.

Furthermore, ongoing interaction among European women’s movements does not mean convergence. In addition to surveying women’s movements in Western, Southern, Northern, and Eastern Europe, this chapter gives an overview of European women’s networks, web-based activism, majority-minority relations, the shift from state to market feminism, and feminist responses to austerity measures.


Chapter 7: Russian Women’s Activism: Grassroots Persistence in the Face of Challenges

Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom

Chapter Summary

Women’s activism in Russia has undergone dramatic transformation since the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991. This chapter provides an overview of the history of Soviet and post-Soviet women’s organizing and gender politics, including particular emphases on violence against women, gendered economic inequality, women in politics, LGBT mobilization, and transnational linkages. Formally organized women’s groups grew exponentially in the 1990s, and women activists became savvy managers, fund-raisers, and organizers. Many established strong ties with global feminist networks. But enormous weaknesses remain, making it difficult to say there is a significant women’s movement, whether feminist or not, in the country. Overall, women’s post-Communist activism on the issue of gender-based violence has achieved a number of mobilizational victories (albeit limited and unstable), while activism on women’s economic inequality and political representation has been more muted and produced less tangible improvement.

Feminists have had only minor and sporadic influence on Russian society, and most Russians have a decidedly negative orientation toward the term feminism, although their actual beliefs about gender equality vary greatly. After a dramatic growth in women’s organizing in the 1990s, the visibility of these organizations and their ability to work for change contracted substantially in the 2000s, largely due to reduced foreign-donor funding for civil society organizations and mounting government restrictions on civil society more generally. Around 2010, a new wave of informal and avowedly feminist groups began to organize without any donor funding and often through social media platforms. While this activism was small in scale and has since subsided, the women involved displayed a sense of shared collective aims and a willingness to protest publicly. Their brief mobilization provides hope that they have laid the groundwork for a re-emergence of feminist activism once the political environment allows.


Chapter 8: Women’s and Feminist Movements in the United States: The Contradictory Effects of Class-based Success

Benita Roth

Chapter Summary

In this chapter, I consider the ways in which US feminist efforts, which held so much promise in the last half of the twentieth century, and which did accomplish so much to change women’s lives, have seemingly stalled. I then turn to the contemporary scene, where feminist ideas seem to be at once “everywhere and nowhere” in US political culture, and argue that US second-wave feminist organizing, split into different organizationally distinct movements, left class-based liberal feminism ascendant, leaving behind the issues of women on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. Despite class blinders, feminist organizing has helped other social movements, especially the movement for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights. US feminist organizations today are best characterized by a commitment to intersectionality and coalitional work. I show an example of how intersectional feminist ideas have been incorporated into the DNA of recent social movements like Black Lives Matter. I also consider how US feminist organizations have turned some attention to transnational feminist issues, despite a seeming lack of interest on the part of the American public about the transnational. I conclude that US feminism’s ability to transcend the stall in feminist policy progress will depend on the continuing but intensified commitment to a broadly based intersectional politics, especially one that tackles economic burdens still faced by American women.


Chapter 9: Seeking Rights from the Left: Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

Elisabeth Jay Friedman

Chapter Summary

As the so-called “Pink Tide” of left-leaning governments in Latin America recedes, the time is ripe for an evaluation of the Left in power across a range of issues. Given the shared commitments of governments and progressive movements to issues of social justice, it might seem logical to expect state cooperation with feminist, women’s, and LGBT movements and support for their political, economic, and social demands. Historically, however, the political Left has an uneven record in this regard. How have contemporary left governments compared?

The answer, based on a comparative study of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and Venezuela, is one that echoes the historical record. These governments improved the well-being of many women by promoting social welfare. But beyond that bedrock achievement, support for women’s access to the state (including decision-making positions), issues of bodily autonomy (including reproductive rights), and identity recognition (including the recognition of same-sex unions and gender identity) was less consistent. Even the most left-wing presidents seemed unwilling to frontally challenge gender and sexual hierarchies, in part because the Catholic Church and many evangelical denominations defend—and depend on—these constructs.

In all cases, feminists and women from other social movements championed women’s human rights in the face of political repression, economic austerity, and everyday violence. But their periodic collaboration has alternated with disagreement and distance over priorities, strategies, and allies. This chapter focuses on women’s activism and its outcome with respect to women’s rights and gender equality within the larger political context of the region. It also takes into account parallel organizing among LGBT people, given their common challenge to the conservative Catholic inheritance of patriarchy and heteronormativity by championing bodily integrity and autonomy.


Chapter 10: State Feminism and Women’s Movements in Brazil: Achievements, Shortcomings, and Challenges

Cecilia M. B. Sardenberg and Ana Alice Alcantara Costa

Chapter Summary

This chapter overviews Brazilian feminist and women’s movements since the 1970s, showing how dialogues with the state began and eventually led to the establishment of Women’s Policy Agencies at different governmental levels and branches. Although patriarchal culture in Brazil has consistently blocked women’s participation in formal politics, a participatory form of state feminism emerged, fostered by the rise to power of more progressive parties and their commitment to participatory forms of governance such as councils, which operate with equal representation from government and civil society. This not only has strengthened the demands of feminist and women’s movements, but also allowed for the formulation of policies for women in a more participatory fashion. This participatory state feminism comes as a result of growing activism and articulation of feminist and women’s groups, as well as a response to the persistence of a patriarchal political system and political culture resistant to the empowerment of women. The situation presents a major paradox: on the one hand, we see the presence of a wide and well-articulated women’s movement, and on the other, a notorious absence of women in decision-making positions. One of the consequences of this state of affairs is that we still lack a critical mass of women to push for the implementation of new state institutions and policies, such as those designed to confront violence against women or relating to greater advances concerning women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Besides, participatory state feminism has not erased the tensions between feminist and women’s movements and the state, nor have feminisms in Brazil been necessarily resistant to state co-optation. Yet, participatory state feminism has made it possible for feminists to take a greater part in the formulation and monitoring of public policies that build a more gender-equitable society.


Chapter 11: Feminist Movements in the Maghreb

Valentine M. Moghadam

Chapter Summary

The Maghreb forms a geocultural region which is territorially contiguous; shares an experience of French colonialism; and retains some francophone identity as well as French-influenced institutions such as the educational system, the judiciary, and trade unions. The countries of the Maghreb—Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia—have national women’s movements and participate in a transnational feminist network, a collective of scholar-activists known as the Collectif 95Maghreb-Egalité. Historically, women’s activism was channeled into nationalist movements and demands for women’s education. Since the 1980s, women’s goals and activities have centered on reforms of patriarchal family laws, the criminalization of violence against women (including so-called honor crimes and sexual harassment), establishment of equal nationality rights (so that women married to foreign-born men may pass on their nationality to their children), removing qualifications to the ratification of CEDAW, and enhanced economic and political participation. Despite the challenges they have faced in a regional environment that is characterized by economic difficulties, political Islam, conflicts and wars, and regime changes, women’s movements have managed to effect legal and policy changes and have helped to diffuse and legitimize the notion of women’s rights to equality and dignity. The global women’s rights agenda and the UN women’s conferences created favorable opportunities for the proliferation of feminist groups and women-led NGOs in the Maghreb. Two generations of educated and employed women have contributed to the expansion of civil society and steps toward democratization in the region. The growth of Islamism and increasing state conservatism have forced women’s organizations and feminist leaders to become more critical of the state and more assertive in their stance on women’s rights.


Chapter 12: The Palestinian Women’s Movement

Islah Jad

Chapter Summary

This chapter takes a broad look at Palestinian women’s movements today to shed light on sweeping changes that have had impacts in several important areas: the legal contours of Palestinian citizenship and gender, the idealized images of women in official Palestinian and in Islamist discourse, forms of women’s activism and participation in civil society, the waxing and waning of grassroots movements’ ability to mobilize, and the balance between secular and Islamist forces.

The chapter argues that the establishment of the Palestinian Authority has had a demobilizing effect on all social movements, including the women’s movement, and that NGO-ization has further demobilized Palestinian civil society in a crucial phase of national struggle. The chapter shows how the weakening of the secular Palestinian national movement under Israeli occupation, due in part to donor-funded attempts at promoting civil society, has provoked a progressive depoliticization of the women’s movement. The vacuum created by this retreat, I suggest, has been increasingly filled by the militancy of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement known as Hamas.

The chapter describes the paradoxical process of depoliticization and demobilization of the previously powerful and locally grounded women’s grassroots committees after the initiative passed to the PA, which became the main political actor and job provider and defined the role for NGOs as complementary to the new “state.” In order to examine whether this transition realized feminism and empowered women, the chapter traces the trajectory of one of the new NGOs, as an illustrative example; describes the rise of femocrats; and contrasts these developments with the gradual demobilization of an earlier grassroots women’s organization. The chapter also briefly traces the parallel process of the growing power of the Islamists, who are now taking up the lead in the national struggle.

The chapter concluded that the growing power of the Islamists has considerably complicated the possibility of forming a unifying agenda for combating the occupation or achieving women’s rights. Despite the fact that they are seen by many of the secularists as undemocratic, “fundamentalist,” and not part of a “true” civil society, the Islamists are now essentially carrying the cause of national struggle and national service, thereby further complicating the possibility of forming a unifying agenda for combating the occupation or achieving women’s rights.


Chapter 13: The Women’s Movement and Feminism in Iran: Revisiting a Glocal Perspective

Nayereh Tohidi

Chapter Summary

This chapter provides an overview of the current women’s movement and feminism in Iran from a “glocal” (global/local) perspective. Following a glance over the social and historical background of this movement, a brief discussion is offered on the methodological and theoretical issues encountered in researching the women’s movement in Iran. Then the article traces the trajectory of women’s activism after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and discusses the ironies, paradoxes, and challenges of the emergence of a growing women’s movement and feminist discourse under a repressive Islamist state. Special attention is paid to transnational, diasporic, and global interplay with local-national factors such as state policies, oppressive laws, and patriarchal cultural traditions as well as socioeconomic and demographic changes. Iranian women’s experiences; their resilience and courage; and their creative, flexible, and pragmatic strategies have significant practical and theoretical implications for local and global feminisms. For one, they have stayed away from both romantic nativism and secularist infatuation with the “West”—so prevalent in Iran’s polity of the previous eras. Despite the currently forced Islamism, many Iranian feminists are keen on rainbow colors of global feminisms that reflect a polycentric rather than an Islamo-centric or Eurocentric world order. Despite intense repression and patriarchal attitudes at the state and societal levels, personality frictions, ideological divergence, and some differences in strategy and tactics, Iranian feminists and gender activists have often converged in practice to collaborate over their common goals. Women’s rights, therefore, has become an important component of the quest for democracy in Iran that no political force can afford to ignore. While the ruling hardliners have tried to keep Iran internationally insulated, women are becoming increasingly more informed of the current trends within global feminisms and more transnationally engaged, especially with regard to the mechanisms, tools, and machineries created through the UN gender projects and conventions such as CEDAW.

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