The Western Context: The second-wave feminise emerged in the west during the decade of seventies. In the United State, the fiminist organisations, especially the National organisation of women (NOW) became very active.
During the same time, there was a mushroom growth of the women’s organisation in the West European country. In many of these countries, there was the expansion of the middle class base of women’s organisation, which led to the intensity in the women’s movement.
In many of these movements, the middle-class women were joined by the working women. In most of the movements of the North America Europe, the two demands which were focused by the women’s groups were those related to women’s control over there bodies and the access to economic independence. The first demand in fact, aroused sufficient response in countries like USA, France, West Germany and Britain.
The National organisation of women in USA emphasised upon the demand for reproductive right. It was a demand for a right to safe land legal abortion. There was similarly an impassioned movement around the issues of abortion and contraception in France. The French women campaigned against the existing law that banned contraception and abortion.
They used a number of strategies to put forth their demand including legislative lobbying for the repeal of the law and the mass demonstrations. The West German women similarly organised around the issues of family planning and apportion. In a nation-wide campaign they demanded abolition of the existing abortion law. In Britain as well the movements of women were based upon the issues of body and representation of women.
The Non-Western Context:
Movements for the emancipation of women have continued to emerge in many countries beyond Europe and the US. What is notable about these movements is that these have not necessarily followed the pattern of the western movements but on the contrary, have located their struggles in their own social and economic perspectives. Hence, these movements are at variance with the Western feminism in terms of their demands and perspectives.
The difference in perspective is a result of the differing circumstances in which the women in the other countries, especially the women in the developing countries perceive themselves. While the key issues for the women’s organizations in the North America and the European countries have been focused around the reproductive rights, especially the rights to abortion and contraception, the women of the developing Southern countries have not responded to these issues very enthusiastically, for two reasons.
Firstly, there have been other issues, which they considered more important in the context of their poverty and underdevelopment. Secondly, the questions of the reproductive rights for women of the South have been linked with the family planning programmes.
The family planning programmes generally controlled by the state in some of the Southern countries have been pursued in such a manner that these have harmed the interest of women themselves. The women’s organizations therefore have not responded to the birth control programme in an unproblematic way. Hence, along with the right to control fertility, the issue of reproductive health has emerged as a very crucial issue for women of the South.
Here women’s organisations have been campaigning against hazardous contraceptives, irrational drugs and adverse impact of globalization on women’s health and have been emphasizing on the need to pay attention on the general health, education, economic advancement and raising of the level of awareness of women. Emphasis is also being placed on strengthening of traditional systems of knowledge including the knowledge of traditional medicine and indigenous health practices.