The Women, Gender & Development Reader

2nd Edition

Edited by Lynne Duggan, Laurie Nisonoff, Nalini Visvanathan and Nan Wiegersma  

Paperback $45.00

Third World women were long the undervalued and ignored actors in the development process but are now recognized as playing a critical role. This book is a comprehensive reader presenting the best of the now vast body of literature that has grown up alongside this acknowledgement.

Divided into five parts, this book incorporates readings from the leading experts and authorities in each field. The first part acts as an introduction to the field, examining the key theoretical debates and discourses surrounding women and development from a historical perspective, and outlining fundamental concepts such as class, ‘race’ and ethnicity, religion, reproduction, persistent inequalities, colonialism, modernization, economic exclusion and patriarchy.

Part two goes on to look at the household as a unit of analysis; exploring sexuality, single-parent families, agricultural production, and environmental relationships, while the third part locates women within the global economy, addressing issues such as industrialization, multi-national companies, free trade zones, the informal sector and the feminization of labour. Part four views the social transformation of women as a consequence of structural adjustment policies and intrusive state policies into women’s health, reproductive rights and sexuality. Next, the volume poses the fundamental questions around women and ideology: Do national liberation struggles contradict with feminist movements? What is the impact of religious fundamentalism? Are socialist development processes similar or dissimilar to capitalist processes? How has the transition to capitalism affected women? The final section of the book shows how women are organizing themselves for change.

Case studies drawn from all regions vividly illustrate the theoretical debates. A guide to further reading at the end of each chapter provides a foundation for any serious student of women in the development process.

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  • Part 1 Historical Introduction and Theoretical Debates (SEM Charleton, Lourdes Beneria, Gita Sen, Eva M Rathgeber, Irene Tinker, Rosi Braidotti, Ewa Charkiewicz, Sabine Häusler, Saskia Wieringa, C Mohanty, Aihwa Ong, Lourdes Beneria, Deniz Kandiyoti)
  • Part 2 Households and Families (Sylvia Chant, Gita Sen, Rita Gallin, Diane Wolf, Jeanne Koopman, Vandana Shiva, Bina Agarwal)
  • Part 3 Women in the Global Economy (Diane Elson, Ruth Pearson, Maria Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, Linda Y C Lim, Lourdes Arizpe, Aili Mari Tripp)
  • Part 4 International Women in Social Transformation (Carmen Deana Deere, Takyiwaa Manuh, Marlyn Dalsimer, Laurie Nisonoff, Betsy Hartmann, Claudia Garcia-Moreno, Wendy Lee, Delia Aguilar, Haleh Afshar, Homa Hoodfar, Lourdes Beneria, Muriel Nazzari, Mieke Meurs)
  • Part 5 Women Organizing Themselves for Change (Kate Young, Ida Susser, Seung-kyung Kim, Kalima Rose)


  • Lynne Duggan

    Lynn Duggan, professor of Labor Studies since 1997 and PhD economist, teaches at Indiana University Bloomington. She has written articles and book chapters on free trade and social policy, feminist comparative economic systems, family policy in East and West Germany, and reproductive rights in the Philippines.

  • Laurie Nisonoff

    Laurie Nisonoff, Professor of Economics, has taught economics, economic history and women’s studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA, since 1974. She is an editor of the Review of Radical Political Economics, and served as the co-ordinator of the RRPE 6th Special Issue on Women, ‘Women in the International Economy’. She has published alone and with Marilyn Dalsimer on women in China, and on the labour process.

  • Nalini Visvanathan

    Nalini Visvanathan is an independent researcher living in the Washington, DC area. A native of India, her research and publications cover women’s health in the population context, education and the empowerment of adolescent girls, women’s movements and community-based participatory research. Her doctorate is in interdisciplinary communication with an emphasis on development studies.

  • Nan Wiegersma

    Nan Wiegersma is Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at Fitchburg State College, Massachusetts. She has published numerous articles on land tenure, gender and development. Her article “Peasant Patriarchy and the Subversion of the Collective in Vietnam” was reprinted in the research anthology Gender and Development: Theoretical, Empirical and Practical Approaches, Volume I, Lourdes Beneria Ed. She is author of Vietnam: Peasant Land, Peasant Revolution and is coauthor (with Joseph Medley) of US Development Policies toward the Pacific Rim. She was the Women and Development Expert for the United Nations on a World Food Programme mission to Vietnam. She was also a coeditor of the first edition of The Women Gender and Development Reader.

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