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This collection of essays addresses the broadening array of issues on the agenda of the women's health movements of the 1980s and 1990s, just as a previous collection, Women and Health: The Politics of Sex in Medicine , gathered contributions from the earlier wave of the women's health movement in the 1970s. The papers in both volumes are selected from the International Journal of Health Services, edited by Vicente Navarro. The essays in this volume were originally published in the 1980s and early 1990s. Together, they present a framework for understanding the struggles over women's health that have occurred in this time period, and provide specific analyses of women's health in relation to race/ethnicity and class, the work of health care, the health of women workers, international reproductive health, sexuality, AIDS, and public health policy.
The essays in this volume are contributions to a fast-growing literature on women, gender, and health. They represent efforts to analyze women's health issues within a political and social context, rather than simply as technical, biological, or clinical concerns. As such, they form part of an interdisciplinary and collective project that draws upon social history, anthropology, history of science, women's studies, and political economy.
As this burgeoning literature suggests, as the essays in this book argue, and as the more critical segments of the women's health movement urge, the answers to women's health concerns will not be found simply in an expansion of biomedical research along traditional lines. The current demand for more research is necessary, but not sufficient. Activists lobbying for increased funding for women's health research must ask for the appropriation of new money; otherwise, the budgets for other health programs will be raided.
Even more critical, however, is the need to support new kinds of research. The biomedical research enterprise has long worked to unravel the specific mechanisms of disease processes by tracing the biomedical pathways and pathological mechanisms of the body; in addition to this narrowly-focused research effort, we need socially-oriented research that seeks to understand both the social production and construction of health and ill-health. This will require delineating the reasons for differences and similarities in health between women and men and also—and just as important—the reasons for social inequalities in health among women.
Women's Health, Politics, and Power will contribute to an emerging synthesis on the social analysis of gender and health, help frame some of the issues that still need to be addressed, provide useful suggestions for future work, and eventually help lead to more appropriate public health policies.
This book contains black-and-white illustrations.