Celebrating Women's History Month at the VCU Libraries
Reviewed by Mayra Rivas, member of Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas
Every day many of us get caught up in our own lives and take for granted the rules and rights that we have to live by. Some of us don’t realize how lucky or unlucky we are to live in a day and age where equality between men and women is far better than it was in the past, but is still not perfect. Women’s Rights, edited by Jennifer Curry, goes into extreme depth and detail outlining the history and outcome of women activists all over the world and the laws that they have helped change. The book does not just talk about the right to vote, but also the right to an education, to drive, to claim rape, to choose when to have a child, etc. It involves not just political rights, but also human rights and rights that control the life and body of a woman.
Rights and fights for women differ from country to country. While women were fighting for contraception and abortion rights in the U.S., women were fighting for their own battles in less developed countries. In the end, women all over the world have stepped up to fight for what they believe in.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Form of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is a universal bill of rights that would essentially equate men and women all over the world. It is referred to constantly in the book. It has been pending for almost thirty years, yet some countries have yet to accept it. Comparisons are made in the book between countries on the pay that women and men get, and on the percentage of women holding office. It talks about the way religion and culture affect women rights. It analyzes the scriptures of Islam and Christianity and the way they are interpreted. It is very informative and provides excerpts from a wide range of sources. Other chapter in the book discuss prostitution and sex trafficking, violence, taboos (and why women are afraid to go to the law once they have been raped or abused), prostitution, sex trafficking and its comparison to under-paid illegal immigrant workers.
Throughout Women’s Rights there are many examples and statistics that deal with the oppression women face everyday. There are even surveys and cultural trends that demonstrate why in many ways men are preferred to women in countries such as China and India. This book is definitely an eye-opener and provides insight to issues being faced all over the world regarding women.