From Motherhood to Citizenship: Women's Rights and International Organizations

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It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that many countries began granting women the right to participate in public institutions as individuals. Until then, women were incorporated into various domains of life mainly through their relational roles as mothers. In From Motherhood to Citizenship, Nitza Berkovitch argues that this trend is not confined to specific countries, but represents a worldwide phenomenon. Moreover, the forces that shape this transformation are embedded in the global cultural and political system.

Berkovitch offers the first detailed account of the critical role played by international organizations in the promotion of women's rights by individual nation-states. Demonstrating the importance of rhetoric in the framing of women's issues, the book traces the formation of the global agenda on women. From Motherhood to Citizenship begins in the 1870s, when the earliest international campaigns fought the "evils done to womankind," and continues through the interwar era in which the first official world bodies (the League of Nations and the International Labour Organization) promoted and expanded the concept of "women's protection." It concludes with the recent United Nations Decade for Women, which for the first time puts "women's rights" on the world agenda.

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About the Author:

Nitza Berkovitch is an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel.

Review:

"Most compelling is how Berkovitch demands self-reflection among feminist scholars. In illustrating the link between international policy, the 'scientization' of gender (that is, the need for quantitative measures to represent womanhood), and the drive for data collection on equality, she reminds us of the historical context of our own research agenda."

(Winifred R. Poster American Journal of Sociology)

"The writing has a very logical and clear progression... Overall, this book... will be of value to students of women's rights or of general human rights."

(Jeannette Campbell South African Journal of International Affairs)

"This book fills a gap in the existing literature and provides compelling evidence of the important effect that international organizations have had on nation-states' passage of legislation addressing women's unique circumstances."

(Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, Princeton University)

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9780801860287: From Motherhood to Citizenship: Women's Rights and International Organizations

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ISBN 10:  0801860288 ISBN 13:  9780801860287
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999
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