Feminism, Liberation, and Education

  • Nelly P. Stromquist
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 22)

Unquestionably, feminism will be seen by historians as one of the strongest social movements of the twentieth century. Ideas that the rights of women should be included among the rights of all people existed as a coherent set since the late 1860s and culminated in women's right to vote in the early twentieth century, with New Zealand being the fi rst country to grant them that right. However, it was not until the 1960s that the feminist movement spread out to the corners of the globe. This effort, now called the “second wave” of feminism, endorsed the term “liberation” and sought to free women from economic oppression, cultural subordination, and political marginalization. The second wave documented the situation of men and women at all levels of society, from the household to the place of work and government, and concluded that it had to change to make both women and men benefi t from those social arrangements. Liberation, in other words, implied a political movement toward changing the social order, but in ways that meant not the replacement of men by women in the existing hierarchies but the creation of other kinds of social relations, less characterized by rigid and arbitrary hierarchies. The ultimate goal was not always stated but it often involved the reduction of social differences between men and women.

Feminist groups today comprise various kinds: those that fi ght patriarchy, those that engage in academic and cultural production, groups that are pro-human rights, and community-based organizations working on the satisfaction of basic needs of poor women. They have been unifi ed in the past by universalist approaches to human development and social justice. Many scholars recognize the family and the body as sites of the politics of power (Molyneux, 1985; Connell, 1987; Messner, 1992). Most recognize the issue of domestic and sexual violence as a deeply rooted feature of women's subordination and a growing set considers the recognition of sexual orientation — all issues linked to social change and national development (Subrahmanian, 2005).


Sexual Orientation Sexual Harassment Gender Issue Gender Equity Gender Perspective 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

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  • Nelly P. Stromquist

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