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Arien Mack, Editor

This issue of Social Research is devoted to essays on the position of women in developing countries. It is by no means comprehensive, nor could it be given our space limitations. In my invitation to authors, I asked that they try to describe the current conditions of women’s lives in particular countries and regions and to comment on the role, if any, played by globalization, geopolitics, war, and of course history.

The article presents a conversation which is organized by the Women's Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace which discusses some issues related to the concept of human security. The international nongovernmental organization dedicated to empowering women living in the developing countries. The topic was chosen as the center of the discussion to identify the parameters and the limits of the traditional definition of human security, and to broaden it to encompass a wider spectrum of both human material and spiritual needs.

The article discusses the changes in the role of women in the Sri Lankan society. The education of women, their employment outside the home, their agitation for political rights, their assumption of political office, and others have been perceived as potential threats to women's traditional roles and status within such society at various moments in Sri Lankan history. The author has argued that the primary premise of such debates and discourses regarding the role of women have not changed. It was stated that women in this are also victims of domestic and outside violence such as war.

The article explores the ways in which the nature of the democratic transition in South Africa allowed feminists to articulate an agenda of equality that unseated nationalists formulations of women's political roles. The role of the African National Congress Women's League in the creation of the Women's National Coalition is discussed. The paper provided the details on the charter campaigns and multiparty negotiations of the Coalition. There was an assessment of the success of the inclusionary strategies used by the group.

The article examines the discrepancy between women's gains in Brazil and their underrepresentation in political office in the country. Several topics are discussed including the trends in the representation of women in political office and the advances in women's rights. The paper presents the reasons for women's underrepresentation in politics. The society is facing a challenge for the transformation of women's abstract rights into concrete rights in Brazil and the other Latin American countries.

The article argues that the practices that violate women's sexual rights in the Middle East and in North Africa are not the result of an Islamic vision of sexuality but a combination of political, economic, and social inequalities. Several issues are discussed including the contradictory construction of women's sexuality in the Qur'an and the early fiqh texts, the legal science of Islamic jurisprudence. The paper also touches on the impact of modernization on women's sexual lives and the rise of Islamic religious rights and its efforts to control women's sexuality.

The article examines the ways in which the relations between globalization and governance shape specific aspects of women's status in post-colonial Nigeria. Several issues are discussed including the consequences of global, national and local malgovernance for Nigerian women and the areas for women's struggles for human rights. The paper also discourses the limitations of women's rights. The critiques of the governance agenda of global financial institutions have ignored the fact that the erosion of democratic governance through trade liberalization has had devastating consequences for women.

The article examines the role of civil society, particularly women's organizations, in reshaping gender relations and influencing human rights language at the national and international agenda based on the experience of the Brazilian feminist movement. Several topics are discussed including the emergence of feminism in Brazil as a political actor and the human rights agenda of the Latin American politics. The paper also touches on the interrelationship between the national and international agenda for human rights.

The article examines whether the rise of satellite television and the Internet in Arab countries has contributed to a qualitative change in the treatment of women's status in the mass media in the region. Several issues are discussed including the developments in media and women's organizations in the region since 1990 and the use of the mass media by feminist groups. The paper also touches on how the legal changes that affect Egyptian women were covered by the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera and the Egyptian media.

The article examines the interplay between local and global factors in shaping the course of women's movements and feminism in Muslim societies, particularly in Iran and Azerbaijan. Several issues are discussed including the emergence of global feminism as an outgrowth of globalization and the social conditions of women in these regions. The paper also touches on the approaches used by Iranian women's movement to establish national and international connections and on the Islamic women's efforts to de-center West and de-essentialize Western feminism.

The article examines the shift on the status of Algerian women from active participants in the war for independence from France in 1954-1962 to passive victims of the civil war in the 1990's. Several issues are discussed including the trends on women's participation in the Algerian war and the social and political conditions of women after the Algerian war. The paper also touches details on how Algerian women responded to the legalization of the Islamic Salvation Front whose platforms include the curtailment of women's rights.


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