Women’s Activism brings together twelve innovative contributions from feminist historians from around the world to look at how women have always found ways to challenge or fight inequalities and hierarchies as individuals, in international women’s organizations, as political leaders, and in global forums such as the United Nations.

The book is divided into three parts. Part one, brings together four essays about organized women’s activism across borders. The chapters in part two focus on the variety of women’s activism and explore women’s activism in different national and political contexts. And part three explores the changing relationships and inequalities among women.

This book addresses women’s internationalism and struggle for their rights in the international arena; it deals with racism and colonialism in Australia, India and Europe; women’s movements and political activism in South Africa, Eastern Bengal (Bangladesh), the United Kingdom, Japan and France. Essential reading for anyone interested in women’s history and the history of activism more generally

chapter |12 pages


ByFrancisca de Haan, Margaret Allen, June Purvis, Krassimira Daskalova

part I|61 pages

Transnational women's activism

chapter 1|13 pages

Overcoming hierarchies through internationalism

May Wright Sewall's engagement with the International Council of Women (1888–1904)
ByKaren Offen

chapter 2|16 pages

Transnational mentoring

The impact of Sarojini Naidu's 1924 visit to South Africa on Cissie Gool and women's leadership 1
ByPatricia van der Spuy, Lindsay Clowes

chapter 3|15 pages

‘Spectacular feminism’

The international history of women, world citizenship and human rights 1
ByGlenda Sluga

chapter 4|15 pages

Cold War internationalisms, nationalisms and the Yugoslav-Soviet split

The Union of Italian Women and the Antifascist Women's Front of Yugoslavia
ByChiara Bonfiglioli

part II|75 pages

Varieties of women's activism

chapter 5|13 pages

‘We are equal to men in ability to do anything!’

African Jamaican women and citizenship in the interwar years
ByHenrice Altink

chapter 6|16 pages

The trials and tribulations of a black woman leader

Lilian Ngoyi and the South African liberation struggle
ByBarbara Caine

chapter 7|15 pages

East Bengal women's education, literature and journalism

From the late nineteenth century through the 1960s
ByShirin Akhtar

chapter 8|15 pages

Fighting the double moral standard in Edwardian Britain

Suffragette militancy, sexuality and the nation in the writings of the early twentieth-century British feminist Christabel Pankhurst
ByJune Purvis

chapter 9|14 pages

Housewives-Lib and Co-op in Japan (1970s–1990s)

ByKiyoko Yamaguchi

part III|47 pages

Changing relationships between ‘unequal sisters’

chapter 10|15 pages

‘Plenty European ladies told me you should give me fair place same as everybody’

Gender, race and Aboriginal domestic service
ByVictoria Haskins

chapter 11|15 pages

‘A Breach of confidence by their greatly beloved principal’

A furore at Women's Christian College, Chennai, India, 1940 1
ByMargaret Allen

chapter 12|15 pages

Confronting ‘race’

French feminism's struggle to become global
ByJennifer S. Duncan