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Womankind: Faces of Change Around the World    by Donna Nebenzahl & Nance Ackerman order for
by Donna Nebenzahl
Order:  USA  Can
Raincoast, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In their Introduction the authors tell us they've been 'trying to get to the heart of why women care' enough to dedicate their lives to helping others. They share with us photographs and profiles of 45 women activists - 'ordinary people ... moved to do extraordinary things' - around the world. You've probably already heard of land-mines activist Jody Williams and feminist Robin Morgan, but most here will be new to you (as they were to me) and these are people we should know better.

The compelling cover photograph is of Anisia Achieng of the Sudanese Women's Voice for Peace, who tells us 'If all the girls were to go to school ... then the world would be in peace.' Leslie deBeauvais of the LA Theatre of Hope for Abused Women quotes a group member, 'There is no shit in this world. All the things that we experience, we compost and can use again.' Iraqi Zainab Salbi tells us that 'War can teach you so much about evil, and so much about good.'

Olayinka Koso-Thomas works against female genital mutilation, Siriporn Skrobanek against worldwide trafficking in women, Zodwa Mqadi for children abandoned by AIDS, while the Guerilla Girls fight discrimination in the arts around the world, and Anita Borg of California to 'empower women around technology'. There are Catholic and Buddhist activists, elders and healers, fighters against nuclear proliferation, environmental pollution, violence against women. The list goes on.

Womankind is a beautiful softcover coffee-table book, full of the wisdom of individuals trying to make a difference. And while they encapsulate a catalog of horrors, these women's stories are also infused with hope.

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