Welcome to the 2017 updated volume of Women’s Lives: A
Global Encyclopedia. Since the 2003 edition of The Green-
wood Encyclopedia of Women’s Issues Worldwide, women’s
and girls’ lives have transformed in many ways. Organized
into four volumes by broad geographic regions—the Mid-
dle East and Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and
Europe—this edition captures how women and girls have
reached new heights in gender equality, while sometimes
also facing new challenges. Each volume presents an over-
view of women’s lives by country, an approach that fosters
a country-by-country comparison, and offers specific dis-
cussion of the local issues within a larger global context.
The encyclopedia cannot cover every country in the world,
but it does provide a glimpse into 150 nations and territo-
ries. The concept of nation is itself contested, and so the
editors have made thoughtful decisions that reflect fem-
inist and liberatory perspectives in the identification of
entities covered by separate entries.
In addition to the longer essays about individual coun-
tries and territories, we have included sidebars, women’s
voices, and primary source documents. The sidebars pro-
vide information about specific events, organizations, and
ideas to supplement the country essays. While overviewing
the status of women in each chapter, we also want to keep
in mind that behind the numbers are real women who
are resisting multiple forms of oppression and making a
positive difference in their nations and in the world. These
women’s voices offer a look into the lived experiences of
an individual or a group of women. These glimpses into
women’s lives give color and specificity to the ideas and
statistics in the longer essays. Primary source documents
let readers discover for themselves what nations and or-
ganizations have said about women and gender within
specific local contexts. Many of these documents come
from the United Nations. Others come from the consti-
tutions of various nations or statements by different or-
ganizations. Sometimes, we see great support for women.
Other times, we see inconsistencies between what various
authorities and leaders say and what they do. All together,
these supplementary items help to complete the story of
each nation by reminding us of women’s commonalities
and differences, their nations’ viewpoints, and the places
of their struggles.
In these four volumes, we rely on intersectional, trans-
national feminist frameworks, drawing attention to the
ways gender intersects with race, ethnicity, class and caste,
religion, sexual orientation, age, ability, nation, and cul-
ture, among other categories of identity and power. We
recognize the ways in which understandings of and ap-
proaches to gender, womanhood, and femininity (as well
as manhood and masculinity) are socially and culturally
constructed, taking on different meanings in various con-
texts. We reject any formation of women’s universal expe-
rience. In each of the entries, we strive to be attentive to
global contexts, geopolitics, histories of colonialism, mil-
itarism, and war and relations between nation-states as
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