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The position of women in the United States, and in many other places in the West, has improved dramatically in the last 50 years, so that there are fewer and fewer limits on what we can do and how we can live. However, there are many other parts of the world where this is not the case. In some of these places, not only has the position of women not improved, it has significantly deteriorated . Thanks to the tireless work of women’s groups worldwide , a number of the most flagrant violations of women’s civil and human rights now make the front pages of our newspapers— grim publicity that may prevent the worst from happening. A recent instance of this is the case in Nigeria of Safiya Hussaini, who was accused of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning. In March 2002, her sentence was overturned on a technicality, and there is little doubt that the reversal was a consequence of the world watching and caring about what was happening. But as this issue goes to press, the fate of another Nigerian woman, Amina Lawal, similarly accused and sentenced, still hangs in the balance. This case too is drawing international attention, including an appeal on Lawal’s behalf from Mexican President Vicente Fox and possible cancellation of the Miss World contest that is scheduled to held in Lagos this November. This issue of Social Research is devoted to essays on the position of women in developing countries. It is by no means comprehensive , nor could it be, given our space limitations. In my invitation to authors, I asked that they try to describe the current conditions of women’s lives in particular countries and regions and to comment on the role, if any, played by globalization, geopolitics, war, and, of course, history. As a result, the papers have a different character than those that usually appear in these pages, reading more like reports than reflections on complex ideas. Each article informs the reader about the ways women live in a particular place at this particular time, and how and why their situations Editor’s Introduction may be changing. Together, these papers paint a picture of a continuing struggle abetted by the proliferating transnational groups linking women to each other and increasing the likelihood of change. While “feminism” in one location differs from what it is in another, universal threads do emerge in this picture, one of which is the complicated interplay between the global and the local. I would like to express my gratitude to Mahnaz Afkhami, president of Women’s Learning Partnership, who connected me to many of the women writing in this issue and who has been a continuing source of advice. Because of the pressure of her own schedule she found it impossible to write a paper for the issue, but instead organized and chaired the interesting and important discussion on human security that initiates the issue. Arien Mack Editor vi SOCIAL RESEARCH ...


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