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For Women's Rights, Church, and Fatherland

The Lithuanian Catholic Women's Organisation, 1908-1940

Indrė Karčiauskaitė

This article examines the history of the Lietuviu Katalikiu Moteru Draugija (LKMD, Lithuanian Catholic Women's Organisation) from its foundation in 1908 to its disbandment under Soviet occupation in 1940. Special attention is paid to the LKMD's changing relationship with the Catholic clergy and Lithuanian nationalism. Exploring which type of feminism the LKMD represented, the article focuses on attitudes of the LKMD leadership towards women's rights, participation in society, and paid employment. The beginning of the 1920s is shown to have been a turning point. At that time many educated women became active in order to enshrine women's rights in the statutes of the newly independent Lithuanian State. Several of them joined the LKMD, subsequently succeeding in reducing the clergy's influence on the organisation's central board. The LKMD, it turns out, was a good example of a women's organisation espousing relational feminism (Karen Offen's term), insisting on women's participation in society as being distinct from men's, particularly in relation to women's role as mothers, while taking a stand for equality between men and women, especially with respect to judicial issues.

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Building Resilient Girls

Canadian Women's Foundation Girls' Fund

The Canadian Women’s Foundation, a national public foundation dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls, has become increasingly aware of the changed and changing environment for girls in Canada. From the Foundation’s experience in Violence Prevention programs with teens, we knew that girls’ lives are complex and we were aware of a need for a broader range of support programs.

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Listening to Youth

The Experiences of Young Women in Northern Uganda

Jenny Perlman Robinson

In May 2007, the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children traveled to the Acholi districts of northern Uganda and met with more than 100 young women, aged from ten to thirty years, to gather their views, opinions and perceptions.

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Calm Vessels

Cultural Expectations of Pregnant Women in Qatar

Susie Kilshaw, Daniel Miller, Halima Al Tamimi, Faten El-Taher, Mona Mohsen, Nadia Omar, Stella Major and Kristina Sole

This article explores emerging themes from the first stage of ethnographic research investigating pregnancy and loss in Qatar. Issues around the development of foetal personhood, the medical management of the pregnant body and the social role of the pregnant woman are explored. Findings suggest that Qatari women are expected to be calm vessels for their growing baby and should avoid certain foods and behaviours. These ideas of risk avoidance are linked to indigenous knowledge around a mother’s influence on a child’s health and traits. Motherhood holds a particularly important place in Qatari culture and in Islam, and women are ultimately responsible for protecting and promoting fertility and for producing healthy children.

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Elif Mahir Metinsoy

Ordinary women are among the least known subjects of Ottoman Turkish historiography. One of the most important reasons for this lack of information is that the Turkish archives are not organized in such a way that researchers can easily access documents on ordinary women. However, the difficulty in finding women’s voices in historical documents is only one part of the problem. Whereas conventional Ottoman-Turkish historiography prioritizes the acts of those holding power, most Turkish feminist historiography focuses on the organized activities of elite and middle-class women rather than ordinary women due to various paradigmatic and methodological restrictions. This article explains these limitations and proposes less conventional methods for conducting research on ordinary Ottoman women, who were important actors on the home front during World War I. It discusses theoretical approaches, methodology, and alternative sources that can be used to conduct research on women in the Turkish archives. It also presents some examples of ordinary Ottoman women’s voices and everyday struggles against the violence they suffered during World War I, using new, alternative sources like women’s petitions and telegrams to the state bureaucracy as well as folk songs.

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Together and Apart

Polish Women's Rights Activists and the Beginnings of International Women's Day Around 1911

Iwona Dadej and Angelique Leszczawski-Schwerk

This article investigates International Women's Day (IWD) in Poland as a historical and current event. In 1911, the first IWD was observed by Polish feminists who belonged to a "nation without a state." This first celebration marked the beginning of the first stage of the history of IWD in the Polish lands. One hundred years later, women's marches took place again on 8 March. This article examines how Polish feminists celebrated and organized IWD in Galicia and Congress Poland in 1911 and beyond. The article sheds light on the relationship between the liberal and socialist women's movements in Poland during the years 1911–1914. This study contributes to Polish women's history and to the feminist memory culture of IWD. Using our analysis of the history of the origins of IWD in Poland, we also consider whether or not the demands of 1911 are still relevant to the present day.

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From West to East

International Women's Day, the First Decade

Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild

The year 2010 was the centennial of Clara Zetkin's proposal for an annual women's holiday, which became known as International Women's Day, and 2011 was the centennial of its first celebrations. The first ten years of the holiday's existence were a particularly tumultuous time in world history, with the advent of World War I, revolutionary upheavals in some of the major combatant countries, and the demise of the German, Habsburg, Ottoman, and Russian empires. During this time, International Women's Day celebrations quickly gained great popularity, and in 1917 sparked the February Russian Revolution. This article focuses on the development of the holiday from its U.S. and Western European origins and goal of women's suff rage, to its role in empowering Russian women to spark a revolution, and its re-branding as a Soviet communist celebration. Special attention is paid to the roles of two prominent international socialist women leaders, Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai, in shaping the holiday's evolution.

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Making an Appearance

The Formation of Women's Groups in Hungary

Katalin Fábián

This essay presents a historical analysis of Hungarian women's movements from the late eighteenth century until recent years. As women's organising in Hungary responded to both internal and international economic and political forces, it also revealed four sets of connections across the diverse historical landscape. First, these groups have framed their political aims to achieve greater legitimacy by selectively emphasising their international connections. The second parallel is the particularly harsh treatment women's groups have received when the dominant ideology changed. Third, in response to this treatment and for sheer self-preservation, women activists re-framed contemporary events and re-interpreted history in general and women's history in particular to strengthen their sense of identity and self-justification. The fourth common feature is the often difficult relationship between women's groups and the state. These four features potentially counterbalanced the many disagreements among women's groups over what they perceive to be women's appropriate roles and the definition of feminism, and persistently led to women's mobilisation and actions. Controversies around feminism ignite and fundamentally influence how and why women's groups become implicated in politics. Looking at the case of Eastern Europe, and especially focusing on Hungary, this essay argues that feminism has helped to establish much common ground among activists.

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Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild

Two of the earliest women's suffrage victories were achieved in the Russian Empire, in Finland and Russia, as a result of wars and revolutions. Their significance has been largely ignored, yet study of these achievements challenges the standard paradigms about the conditions (struggle within a democracy, geographic location on the 'periphery'), which favoured early suffrage breakthroughs. This article analyses the particular circumstances in Finland and Russia, which, in a relatively short amount of time, broke down resistance to giving women the vote. An examination of the events surrounding the February 1917 Russian Revolution, which toppled the Tsar, demonstrates the significant role of women in initiating and furthering the revolutionary momentum as well as fighting for their own rights. Both the Finns and the Russians pioneered in extending the legacies of the French and American Revolutions to include women.

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In Search of Job and Partner

Life Stories of Women in Iakutiia

Lilia Vinokurova and Sardana Boiakova

The article presents an interpretation of the life stories of indigenous women in Iakutiia. Individual biographies of several women are analyzed with the focus on the agency of indigenous women in contemporary Russian reality. The article argues that the economic crisis in Russia and its social consequences are reasons for women to make the choice for action. The contemporary portrait of indigenous women is juxtaposed with the traditional values and image of women that assists in their ability to get through challenges of time and adapt to the demands of the contemporary period.