Women: A World Report


This indispensable reference--published to coincide with the UN-sponsored world conference marking the end of the Decade for Women--combines essays by leading women writers with comprehensive, up-to-date statistics. The UN Decade for Women (1975-85) was an unprecedented international effort to collect information about the position of women a decade after the start of the women's movement. The results of this effort, augmented by research carried out by Oxford University's Centre for Cross-Cultural Research on ...
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This indispensable reference--published to coincide with the UN-sponsored world conference marking the end of the Decade for Women--combines essays by leading women writers with comprehensive, up-to-date statistics. The UN Decade for Women (1975-85) was an unprecedented international effort to collect information about the position of women a decade after the start of the women's movement. The results of this effort, augmented by research carried out by Oxford University's Centre for Cross-Cultural Research on Women, are reported here in summary form and in tables, graphs, and charts.
In addition, the book includes essays by ten leading writers--five women from the Third World reporting on conditions in wealthier countries, and five women from industrialized nations writing about developing countries, resulting in a fascinating series of cross-cultural viewpoints. Authoritative both in its research and its range of contributors, Women: A World Report stands as the definitive work on the state of the world's women.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195050646
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/1/1987
  • Pages: 388
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Debbie Taylor

About the Authors:
The New Internationalist is a cooperative specializing in social justice and world development issues. In addition to publishing its own magazine, it collaborates with the UN and other organizations to produce press, television, and educational materials.


An advocate for women around the world, author Debbie Taylor has always found her experiences as a journalist informing her writing. But her first career as a psychologist must have certainly influenced her creative writing as well. After all, her first novel, never finished, was about a woman with a frontal lobe tumor. The "very bad first draft of a novel" as she calls it, was written in Africa on the edge of the Kalahari Desert.

The writer, born in Cardiff, Wales, on March 5, 1969, had given up her burgeoning career as a psychologist after earning her Ph.D. in neuropsychology at University College in London, England. She had been a research fellow investigating frontal lobe deficits in brain-damaged patients. But when she was offered a permanent position, she had to decide between writing and psychology. By resigning and going to Africa, she chose writing.

Taylor's time in Botswana was the start of adventures that would not only yield reports for the United Nations, but would lead to books of fiction -- most notably, The Fourth Queen -- published in December, 2004, to critical acclaim.

Although the novel about the woman with the brain tumor was never finished, Taylor worked in such jobs as counseling Zimbabwean refugees. She was even initiated into the local Batlokwa tribe following a month-long women's initiation process.

After returning to the United Kingdom, she wrote about the initiation for The Guardian newspaper and began working full-time as an editor at New Internationalist, an award-winning monthly magazine about social issues.

During her six-year stint, she was commissioned to write State of the World reports for such United Nations organizations as UNICEF and WHO. One of these -- The State of the World's Women -- was published as a book of essays called Women: A World Report (1987).

When commissioned to write factual reports about Zimbabwe and Thailand for the WHO, Taylor wrote a novel, The Children who Sleep by the River (1989), and a book of short stories, A Tale of Two Villages .

In The Children who Sleep by the River, Taylor captures the tenor of modern Zimbabwe. The novel chronicles four generations of women, of whom one is dead and another has not yet been born.

By now Taylor was using her journalism fees to subsidize more fiction writing. In short intense periods, she wrote the early chapters of The Fourth Queen, based on the true story of a Scottish girl who was captured by Moroccan pirates in the 18th Century and ended up in the Emperor's harem.

During this time, Taylor also raised funds to write a non-fiction book about single mothers. The research took her to seven countries, where she lived for a week beside seven single mothers. The book she wrote, My Children, My Gold (1984), was short listed for the Fawcett Prize for women's writing.

When Taylor's daughter was born, she wasn't able to travel freely, so her career as a development journalist came to an end. She was living in Newcastle, and was invited to co-edit Writing Women, the long-running women's literary magazine which she developed into an annual anthology published as the Virago Book of Writing Women until 2000.

Her journalism continued to become more literary. She joined two writing workshops and started working again on her fiction. A nearly $4000 grant at this point re-ignited her stalled work on The Fourth Queen, and she completed a first draft.

In parallel with this she began planning and fundraising for a new quarterly magazine for women writers, Mslexia, which was launched in March 1999 and has now developed into an influential publication.

During these productive years, The Fourth Queen, remained untouched. Finally, in the autumn of 2001, she took out a bank loan, hired a Guest Editor and took a three-month leave-of-absence. Finally, she completed the book.

The novel is set in 1769, when, according to Islamic law, a man may have up to four wives. The emperor of Morocco has a harem of a thousand women, and is looking for a fourth wife. His chief eunuch, the dwarf Microphilus, buys Helen Gloag, a young Scottish woman, from the slave markets of Tangiers. Helen had been traveling to the American colonies on a ship that was taken captive by Barbary pirates.

It is not long before the emperor is enamored of Helen and chooses her to be his fourth wife. But with this great honor comes intense jealousy and grave danger. One of the other queens has mysteriously fallen ill and poison is suspected. Microphilus fears Helen will be the next victim and puts his own life in danger to find the villain.

Currently, Taylor is working on Hungry Ghosts, a contemporary novel about an infertile woman, Sylvia, who quits her job as a hospital pathologist to live on a Greek island. She is trying to purify her body so that she can conceive a baby. On the island Sylvia meets Martin, a secretive young vagrant builder, with whom she has a love affair and become obsessed with finding out about Martin's past.

In an article she wrote on creativity for Mslexia, she talks about "how vital it is to keep challenging your normal perceptions." She said that when her daughter received her first pair of shoes -- turquoise jellies -- she was so besotted with them that she slept with them. "If the child's job is to understand the world for the first time, the writer's job is to help us see the world with fresh eyes."

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Taylor:

"I live in a converted 18th century lighthouse overlooking the mouth of the River Tyne with the poet W.N. Herbert who I met at a martial arts class."

"My daughter, now aged ten, was conceived following two failed IVF attempts and traditional fertility treatments by witchdoctors and shamans in China, Uganda, India and Brazil."

"My first novel was written while living in a mud hut on the edge of the Okavango Desert, where I underwent a month-long initiation into the local Batlokwa tribe."

"When traveling in Africa I usually lived in the villages I was writing about. In Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe the local woman gave me a name in their language. On each occasion, when I asked what the names meant, I was told they meant ‘honey bee'. The first time this happened was strange enough. When it happened in three different countries in three different languages, it was more than strange. My real name, Deborah, is Hebrew for ‘bee'. If you have read and loved Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy, it will be obvious what shape my daemon must have taken."

"I love gardening, walking, swimming. I'm a very energetic driven person and these activities are my equivalent of meditation. I hate tight clothes. My natural blondeish hair has been dyed red for 20 years. When I'm 70 I plan to crop it short and go white overnight."

"I'm addicted to goats' cheese and rocket leaves. I never get drunk, but rarely go a day without a glass of wine."

"In a previous life I was a Greek peasant. With the help of the money from The Fourth Queen we bought a derelict mountain house on the Greek island of Crete, where my next book is set. (I related some of the nightmarish experiences involved in renovating it in Heat and Dust, a column I wrote in the Sunday Times newspaper here in 2003 and 2004). In twenty years' time I plan to retire to Crete with my husband and live on olive oil and tomatoes, and ride sidesaddle on a donkey."

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    1. Hometown:
      Newcastle, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 5, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cardiff, Wales, England
    1. Education:
      B.Sc. in Psychology, University College, London; Ph.D. in Neuropsychology, University College, London

Table of Contents

Debbie Taylor, Anita Desai, Toril Brekke, Manny Shirazi, Marilyn French, Buchi Emecheta, Jill Tweedie, Nawal el Saadawi, Germaine Greer, Elena Poniatowska, Angela Davis

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