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New Left Review I/158, July-August 1986


Eleni Stamiris

The Women’s Movement in Greece

Although feminism, like democracy or socialism, appeals to a universalistic solidarity—born, in this case, of resistance to common experiences of patriarchal and capitalist inequality—the character of particular women’s movements is still shaped by profoundly national contexts of history and socio-economic progress. The uneven trajectories of contemporary capitalist development, of under-development, have imparted to the national contingents of the international women’s movement similar yet different demands, priorities, structures and orientations. In most cases the form of the emergence of modern feminism has been directly influenced by changes in the role of women in the national productive system. Thus, to invoke a principal North-South differential, the nature of the women’s movements in the advanced industrial countries has been influenced by the increasing integration of women into the wage economy and by the partial socialization of reproduction to meet the demand for female labour-power. The immense productive capacity of the capitalist Centre to transform basic needs and to extend the sphere of commodity relations creates, in turn, the conditions for an expanded female working class to raise new demands for equality. In contrast, the economic position of women in many developing countries has greatly deteriorated over the recent period. The education gap between the sexes has widened, domestic activities have been devalued, and frequently women have become more marginalized within the wage economy.

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