This unique collection contains original chapters covering seventeen different countries and cultures from every area of the inhabited world. Each chapter examines the role of women in the society under study and is written by a contributor who provides an insider's point of view on women's experience in that culture. Taken together, these essays provide an important opportunity to compare and contrast how women around the globe function and live. The profiles range from detailed descriptions of women in traditional communities through in-depth examinations of women's rapidly evolving roles in advanced industrial societies. By identifying the diversities and commonalities of the female experience and taking into account the different cultures, climates, customs, manners, lifestyles, and stages of economic development, these chapters provide new ways of understanding how the relationship between gender and culture affects the human experience.
Following an introduction by the editor, each chapter addresses women's experience in a particular country or region. Most include a short historical background sketch, followed by an extended life-span exposition of women in a chronological sequence from infancy and school years through marriage and childbirth, adulthood, and aging. Among the issues addressed by the contributors are the impact of greater educational opportunities for women, a comparison of the role of education among Muslim and Hindu women, as well as female circumcision, the achievement of dominance by women in Tharu households in India, the progress toward gender equality in various parts of the world, the effect of cultural belief systems on women's roles, and more. The countries and regions studied range from the United States, Canada, Latin America, Great Britain, Poland, the Soviet Union, and Israel to Egypt, Nigeria, India, China, Japan, the insular Pacific, and Australia. Invaluable as a set of readings for courses in women's and ethnic studies, this volume provides significant new insights into the evolving cultural perceptions of women's role in society.