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Rural Women’s Health. Edited by Beverly D. Leipert, Belinda Leach, and Wilfreda E. Thurston. Toronto on: University of Toronto Press, 2012. x + 458 pp. Notes, references, tables. $80.00 cloth, $39.95 paper.

This anthology of articles from diverse perspectives collectively makes a substantive contribution to our understanding of the nature of rural women’s health. The purpose of the book is threefold: to present a Canadian perspective on rural women’s health through the use of an interdisciplinary, determinants-of-health and primary healthcare focus and a theoretical gender lens; to create a resource for senior undergraduate and graduate students, researchers, healthcare providers, and policymakers; and to provide a foundation for approaching future policy analysis and research involving issues of rural women’s health. Although the majority of the research is Canadian, chapters have been included with American, Australian, and British content that reveal the ways in which the rural experiences of Canadian women are often similar to those of women in other countries. The variety of methodologies and approaches to research demonstrates the need for and effectiveness of diversity, flexibility, and innovation in undertaking such work.

The volume’s 22 articles, each constituting a chapter, are organized into five sections. Part 1, “Research, Policy, and Action,” includes discussions of the history and current circumstances of rural women’s health research [End Page 103] and policy in Canada; rural women’s research and action on the prairies; the role and reduction in rural women’s organizations; and an overview of women’s health issues in the rural United States. Part 2, “Health and Environment,” encompasses chapters on farm work and risk of breast cancer; farm women’s food provisioning practices; the contributions and roles of farm women in on-farm and off-farm labor; and perspectives on the environmental risk of Mennonite women in relation to their religious beliefs, agricultural way of life, and the health of their families.

“Gender-Based Violence,” part 3, involves studies of Newfoundland and Labrador women’s experiences of their reproductive lives; intimate partner violence and the unique needs of women in rural and northern communities; posttraumatic stress disorder and tertiary traumatization related to the interconnectedness of Aboriginal communities; and rural women’s strategies for seeking mental health and housing services. “Population Health, Health Promotion, and Public Health,” part 4, contains discussions of rural expectations and practices of farm women as nurses in accordance with the restructuring of agriculture and rural healthcare delivery; barriers and strategies associated with enhancing the individual and collective resiliency of rural women; ways that African Nova Scotian women in rural and remote communities understand and manage health and care for self and others; the complexity of the experience of pregnancy and childbirth for northern women; and the integral connections of rural community identity with women’s leisure and health.

Part 5, “Theorizing Rurality and Gender,” incorporates embodied approaches to the study of rural women’s health; rurality related to space, identity, and the body; and volunteer caregiving of rural women as relational citizenship, with recommendations for the formal care system. In the final chapter, Deborah Thien suggests placing emotion in rural, gender, and health research to unmask variations and complexities and invite “wide-ranging and creative approaches to assessing, theorizing, and improving rural women’s health,” a fitting conclusion to a diverse collection of articles that effectively engage the reader and successfully contribute considerable new knowledge to the field of rural women’s health.

Frances E. Racher
Faculty of Health Studies
Brandon University
Brandon, Manitoba
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