Building peace in the minds of men and women

Women in the new Asia

Almost the whole world has seen revolutionary changes in the status of womenpolitically, legally, economically, educationally. What do these changes amount to in practice? What has been the effect of this newly-granted status upon day-to-day domestic living?

In an attempt to answer these questions, Unesco has recently published a collection of studies entitled Women in the New Asia: The Changing Roles of Men and Women in South and South-East Asia edited by Barbara Ward. Its purpose is to put before the ordinary reader material gathered for two years under the Unesco Major Project on Mutual Appreciation of Eastern and Western Cultural Values, and thus enable a more realistic appraisal to be made of the past, present and future of millions of women in Asia.

Mrs. Ward points out in her introductory essay that these studies "may help us to emerge a little from the cocoon of our preconceptions, including our own culturally derived sterotypes about what are truly 'masculine' and what 'feminine' social rolesand also about what are really 'Eastern' and what 'Western' patterns of living."

The book examines the impact of the new status of women upon the private domestic lives of both sexes of families, in fact in eleven countries: Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet-Nam and presents personal accounts by women from these countries. In the preface to "Women in the New Asia", Barbara Ward writes: "In this book Unesco is daring to ask for troublefor to study the relation between the roles of the two sexes is to do just that. Probably no other topic excites more argument and less agreement, and probably on no other topic is the argument more heated and the disagreement more profound. Nevertheless, we have endeavoured to set out facts and suggest conclusions for the common reader in the West, and also, we hope, in the East, to ponder upon. We hope our endeavour will provoke new argument perhaps less heated and more enlightened; we even dare to hope that it may produce some measure of agreement here and there."

The Unesco Courier is pleased to present selected passages from this stimulating new work contributed by authors from Ceylon, Burma, Thailand and Viet Nam.

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Septembre 1964