Hillary Clinton memorably proclaimed at the United Nations conference in Beijing in 1995 that, “women’s rights are human rights.”
But around the world, this is a distant goal for millions of women and girls. In Saudi Arabia, women are banned from driving and many are forbidden from playing sports. In the Central African Republic and Afghanistan, it is not uncommon for childbirth to bring about a woman’s death. And in the United States, state governments fail to test essential DNA evidence collected from rape victims.
Released on International Women’s Day, The Unfinished Revolution: Voices from the Global Fight for Women’s Rights (Seven Stories Press), is an anthology that includes essays written by 34 experts from around the world– including leading women’s rights activists, top policymakers, and former victims, as well as experts from Human Rights Watch.
It brings fresh voices to the ongoing struggle for gender equality in the 21st century. It also maps out solutions, creating a timely roadmap to understanding how we can help end even centuries-old practices that abuse women.
Two Nobel Peace Prize laureates contributed to the anthology. Shirin Ebadi writes how Islamic law weighs on women while Jody Williams addresses the impact of armed conflict on women and girls.
Other chapters tackle religious dress or headscarves in Europe, uncertain access to birth control in Latin America, unequal property laws that oppress women in Africa, how in the United States, rapists remain free in part because DNA evidence from rapes is often not tested. The chapter on female genital mutilation touches on women’s right to health, while the chapter that details how certain groups, like the Taliban, fight to keep girls out of school highlights how women can be denied their right to education.
The anthology also addresses the uncertain prospects for women in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring.
Edited by Human Rights Watch’s Minky Worden, the book does more than spell out the problems women face. It also discusses creative ways that modern technology can be used to advance the cause of women’s rights. For example, it explains how using mobile phones can help combat fistula, a preventable childbirth injury which affects some two million women and girls worldwide.
Publishers Weekly calls the book, “a powerful overview of contemporary women’s issues … a cohesive and eminently readable document that is simultaneously an inspiration and a call-to-action.”
A six-part photo essay with hauntingly beautiful images shot by acclaimed photographers including Platon and Stephanie Sinclair vividly illustrates some of the topics discussed in the book, such as Egypt’s Arab Spring and high rates of maternal death in India.
As Christiane Amanpour writes in the book’s foreword, “It’s a time of change in the world, with dictators toppling and new opportunities rising, but any revolution that doesn’t create equality for women will be incomplete. The time has come to realize the full potential of half the world’s population.”