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Women's Movements

Feminist And Feminine Movements In Brazil, Civil Rights And Women's Movements In The United States

Women's movements are among the most global of modern social movements. From nineteenth-century Canadian women's suffrage campaigns to recent direct actions for sustainable development in India, wherever women's movements have been established, national organizations and local grassroots groups have worked together for the interests of women and girls. Varied, even conflicting, understandings of women's interests arise from differences in gender, race, class, cultural, religion, and sexuality, as well as from global divisions of wealth and power. Nevertheless, the pervasiveness of oppression against women has led to the establishment of international women's movements with common agendas, connected to struggles for autonomy, democracy, and secure livelihoods around the world.

The goals and structures of women's movements reflect the commonalities as well as the differences among women. For example, feminist movements tend to be associated with the aspirations, and the opportunities, of middle-class women. Feminist movements include women's rights movements focusing on the goals of equal rights under the law and equal access to education, careers, and political power; women's liberation movements that challenge cultural patterns of male domination in the family and personal life through strategies that raise the consciousness of women of their own oppression, often within the context of women-only groups; Black feminist movements that address racism along with sexism; and socialist feminist movements that see women's empowerment as tied to the role of government, labor, and civil society in securing the entitlements of all citizens to equity and social security. The activists Women's rights demonstrators in Cuzco, Paucartambo, Peru. JEREMY HORNER/CORBIS in feminine movements tend to be working-class women organizing to address problems of poverty and sexism and their devastating effects on the health and welfare of their families. Womanist, a term coined by the writer Alice Walker, refers to the confidence, strength, and wisdom of African-American women based in their cultures and long struggle to support their children and communities and to end racism and all forms of injustice.

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Social Issues