by Laura Parisi
Women in developing and post-communist countries have often been marginalized in world politics. Their invisibility as international political actors is highlighted by the fact that there exist very few websites that are a compilation of links focused solely on women in developing and/or transitional countries. In this review I will examine one site focused on broader issues facing women in developing and former Soviet Bloc countries, as well as sites that are more regionally specific.
The Mining Company's Guide to Women's Issues in the Third World
Maintained by: Cecil Marie Cancel
Reviewed: July 8, 1998
[Note: In October, 2001, Cecil Marie Cancel closed this site and opened Global Women's Rights: http://www.globalwomensrights.net ]
This site is good place to start for those interested in exploring current issues facing women in developing countries. The site is regularly updated with thought- provoking topics/articles that serve as the focal point for discussion in the chat room and the bulletin board (however, these featured articles do not always credit their source, so it is difficult to know how reliable some of the information is). The best feature of this website is the many links it provides to different issues ranging from politics to religion. Although uneven in its coverage of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, the site provides a useful starting point for those who may feel overwhelmed by searching for information about women in specific developing countries and regions.
For statistical information, a good list of development-related organizations, and other information across a range of nations, see: Women In Development (WIDNET) (http://www.focusintl.com/widnet.htm). Several other websites contain news articles about women in developing and transitional countries (but not exclusively):
One World Gender News ( http://www.oneworld.org/news/by_theme/index.html then click on "gender"; and Women's International Net (WIN): ( http://www.geocities.com/Wellesley/3321/), an online magazine. Articles are written by women from all over the world.
Russian Feminism Resources
Maintained by: Elena Leonoff
Last Updated: June 7, 1998
Reviewed: July 8, 1998
This site is an excellent source of information on both Russian and Eastern European women, despite the name of the page. Links in both Russian and English are coded so viewers know which sites are in which languages. What I really like about this site are the links to Russian women's magazines, organizations, and personal homepages because these shed needed light on the views of Russian and Eastern European women. There are links to the Arts, Life/Work, Health, Politics, Activism, and Academic topics. All of these links have well-documented sources from magazines, newspapers, and academic papers and syllabi, and provide a wealth of information. The only drawback is that within the subject categories' links there is sometimes little organization. Finally, given the vast amount of information on the site, a "search" function would make it easier to find more specific topics in the categories.
For more on Russian and Eastern European Women, see also the Network of East-West Women (URL: http://www.neww.org), which links together many women's movements and organizations from Central and Eastern Europe [CEE] and Former Soviet Union (FSU).
SAWNET: South Asian Women's Network
Maintained by: Susan Chacko and Jyothy Reddy
Last Updated: July 9, 1998
Reviewed: July 9, 1998
This website provides a wealth of materials by and on women from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Topics range from legal issues to health to cinema and books. There is also a special "News About South Asian Women" link that has newspaper articles, etc. grouped in categories such as "Government and Politics" and "Business." However, there were very few articles for 1998, which is disappointing considering what a tumultuous year it has been in Asia so far. One nice feature of this site is the search option. The page also provides links for each individual country to YAHOO's country search sites. For two interesting websites on Chinese women, see ASIAPAC's 100 Celebrated Chinese Women (http://www.span.com.au/100women/) and very informative documents by the Public Information Committee of the China Organizing Committee of the 4th World Conference on Women on IHEP (http://sun.ihep.ac.cn/women/cwomen.html.) For detailed (though dated) information on reproductive rights in China and India, see Women of the World (http://www.echonyc.com/~jmkm/wotw/).
Columbia University Middle East Studies: Women in the Middle East Page
Maintained by: Frank Unlandherm, Middle East Studies Librarian
Last Updated: July 2, 1998
Reviewed: July 9, 1998
This is the only website I found that seems to compile links solely related to the study of women and the Middle East. However, many of the links are outdated or no longer exist. Also, there appears to be only cursory organization of the page - the links are arranged by country (but not all Middle Eastern countries are represented) then alphabetically by individual topic. My experience with searching for a broad "Women in the Middle East" website leads me to conclude that using one of the many search engines for the Middle East more generally, or by a specific country, is a better way to go.
For a selection of more academic works, see the Association for Middle East Women's Studies (http://humanitas.ucsb.edu/~gallaghe/amews.html), which is also linked at the top of the Columbia site. This page, unfortunately, does not have links to related Women in the Middle East websites, and primarily carries articles from the AMEWS Review.
Finally, for an informative link on Women and Islam, visit Huma Ahmad's Muslim Sisters Homepage (http://www.albany.edu/~ha4934/sisters.html).
Latin America Network Information Center (LANIC) at the University of Texas: Women
and Gender Studies Page
Maintained by: The University of Texas
Last Updated: June 26, 1998
Reviwed: July 9, 1998
With links on a variety of topics in both English and Spanish, this page is divided into sections: General Latin American resources on women, Country Resources (including a section on U.S. Chicana and Latina Issues), and International Resources. While the website offers numerous resources, it is hindered by lack of a search option. Also, the links are not annotated and it would be helpful to know whether some of the Spanish-language sites have an English-language option and vice-versa. The page appears to be updated often, and the general LANIC website offers a tremendous amount of information as well.
For an informative overall assessment: Social Watch: Latin American Women at the End of the Century: Family and Work, by Irma Arriagada (http://www.chasque.apc.org/socwatch/latamw.htm).
Maintained by: Stanford University Libraries/Academic Information Resources
Last updated: October 23, 1998
A lengthy listing of links to all sorts of collections, articles, and agencies with information on African women is pulled together on this Web page - from the African Policy Information Center's reports on African women's rights to a brief biography on Sudanese doctor/activist Zahir Khalda.
Another page, though somewhat disappointing, is African Women Global Network (URL: http://www. osu.edu/org/awognet/) as there is actually little information about African women. Only a few links are directly related to African women; most connect to more general sites on Africa.
For news articles from 1994-1998 about African women, try the Mail & Guardian, a South African newspaper in English (http://www.mg.co.za/) and search their archives. For an excellent source on women in South Africa see the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Natal (http://www.unp.ac.za/UNPDepartments/politics/gender/genlinks.htm)
After spending a lot of time on the Web looking for good sources about women from developing and transitional countries, I have concluded that more effort is required in promoting the visibility of women in these countries. More websites like SAWNET's are needed to centralize information about women and gender issues.
(Laura Parisi is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Arizona and a visiting instructor in the Departments of Women's Studies and Political Science at Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia.)
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