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From Motherhood to Citizenship

'From Motherhood to Citizenship' cover image

From Motherhood to Citizenship

Women's Rights and International Organizations

It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that many countries began granting women the right to participate in public institutions as individuals. Until then, women were incorporated into various domains of life mainly through their relational roles as mothers. In From Motherhood to Citizenship, Nitza Berkovitch argues that this trend is not confined to specific countries, but represents a worldwide phenomenon. Moreover, the forces that shape this transformation are embedded in the global cultural and political system.

Berkovitch offers the first detailed account of the critical role played by international organizations in the promotion of women's rights by individual nation-states. Demonstrating the importance of rhetoric in the framing of women's issues, the book traces the formation of the global agenda on women. From Motherhood to Citizenship begins in the 1870s, when the earliest international campaigns fought the "evils done to womankind," and continues through the interwar era in which the first official world bodies (the League of Nations and the International Labour Organization) promoted and expanded the concept of "women's protection." It concludes with the recent United Nations Decade for Women, which for the first time puts "women's rights" on the world agenda.