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Home » November 2009

Resources: November 2009

The Gender Trap: Women, Violence, and Poverty

October, 2009
Amnesty International

The Gender Trap: Women, Violence, and Poverty

Most of the people living in poverty in the world are women – more than 70 per cent, according to UN estimates. Why is it that more than two thirds of the world’s poor are women, although women are only half of the world’s population?

Muslim Women and Domestic Violence: Bibliography: 3 Key Topics

September, 2009
Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence

The Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence has compiled below a short bibliography listing key works by activists and scholars on domestic violence against Muslim women.

Polygyny & Women's Health in Sub-Sahara Africa

October, 2008
Riley Bove, Claudia Valeggia

Polygyny & Women's Health in Sub-Sahara Africa


In this paper we review the literature on the association between polygyny and women’s health in sub-Saharan Africa. We argue that polygyny is an example of "co-operative conflict" within households, with likely implications for the vulnerability of polygynous women to illness, and for their access to treatment.

"Religion Revisited - Women’s rights and the political instrumentalisation of religion"

June, 2009

"Religion Revisited - Women’s rights and the political instrumentalisation of religion"

The Heinrich Böll Foundation, jointly with the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), organized the international conference "Religion Revisited - Women’s rights and the political instrumentalisation of religion" in Berlin on 5 and 6 June 2009. Scholars and feminist activists discussed the question of how to deal with religions in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality.


January, 2009
Janet R. Jakobsen, Elizabeth Bernstein

Despite the official separation of church and state in the United States, religion and politics are closely intertwined. This intertwining can be attributed both to the profound influence of religious organizations on the political process and to the secular institutions of public life which operate by presuming Protestant norms and values. The authors of this paper argue that the problem for gender equality in the United States is not the influence of religion alone, but Protestant hegemony in terms of both religious influence and secular presumption. They demonstrate this through two contrasting cases studies: policies around human trafficking during the Bush and Obama Administrations and “welfare reform” during the Clinton years. In the case of trafficking, they show how the Bush Administration’s coalition of secular feminist and conservative religious groups has given way under President Obama to a different coalition of faith-based and secular actors characterized by certain continuities of policy aims and method. The most important continuities are the persistence of carceral feminism and militarized humanitarianism. In the case of “welfare reform,” which was supported by a bipartisan coalition of conservative evangelicals and secular advocates, all of the parties used a conservative rhetoric of gender, race, and sexuality to support the policy. This coalition of conservative evangelicals and secular neoliberals easily overwhelmed the direct religious influence of both Catholic and mainline Protestant groups who stood in opposition to “welfare reform.” In both of these cases, it is argued that the major policy alternatives are those that raise not just the issue of religious influence on policies affecting gender equality, but also question neoliberalism and its impact on gender relations and women’s lives. In forming political alliances, the authors emphasize, feminists should situate gender within a broad array of political and economic concerns while challenging Protestant dominance in both its religious and secular guises.


September, 2009
UNRISD & Heinrich Boell Stiftung

The prestige and the influence of the Polish Church is closely linked to the role it played
historically when Poland was occupied by foreign countries throughout the 19th century.
It then appeared as the only centre of stability and resistance against the invaders, giving force to the equation: ‘Polish = Catholic’. The family was another symbol of Polish
resistance to foreign occupation coupled with the powerful symbol of the ‘Polish Mother’ (mother of God and of the nation). Under the communist regime, far from succeeding, the attempts of the government to discredit the Church and to play down its authority, on the contrary, enhanced its popularity. This became evident in the mass following of the independent trade union Solidarnosc, which also had links with the Church in the 1970s and 1980s. Both held very traditional views of women’s roles (as mother and wife) and took strongly conservative positions on moral values and on reproductive rights more specifically.