Feminism for the Americas

The Making of an International Human Rights Movement

By Katherine M. Marino

368 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 28 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4969-6
    Published: March 2019
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4970-2
    Published: February 2019
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6152-0
    Published: August 2020

Gender and American Culture

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Awards & distinctions

Ida Blom-Karen Offen Prize, International Federation for Research in Women's History

2020 Luciano Tomassini Book Award, Latin American Studies Association

2020 Barbara "Penny" Kanner Award, Western Association of Women Historians

Honorable Mention, 2020 Frances Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize, Western Association of Women Historians

Honorable Mention, 2020 Mary Nickliss Prize, Organization of American Historians

Finalist, 2021 Shapiro Book Prize, Shapiro Center for American History and Culture at The Huntington

Shortlisted, 2019 Juan E. Méndez Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America

This book chronicles the dawn of the global movement for women's rights in the first decades of the twentieth century. The founding mothers of this movement were not based primarily in the United States, however, or in Europe. Instead, Katherine M. Marino introduces readers to a cast of remarkable Latin American and Caribbean women whose deep friendships and intense rivalries forged global feminism out of an era of imperialism, racism, and fascism. Six dynamic activists form the heart of this story: from Brazil, Bertha Lutz; from Cuba, Ofelia Domíngez Navarro; from Uruguay, Paulina Luisi; from Panama, Clara González; from Chile, Marta Vergara; and from the United States, Doris Stevens. This Pan-American network drove a transnational movement that advocated women’s suffrage, equal pay for equal work, maternity rights, and broader self-determination. Their painstaking efforts led to the enshrinement of women's rights in the United Nations Charter and the development of a framework for international human rights. But their work also revealed deep divides, with Latin American activists overcoming U.S. presumptions to feminist superiority. As Marino shows, these early fractures continue to influence divisions among today’s activists along class, racial, and national lines.

Marino's multinational and multilingual research yields a new narrative for the creation of global feminism. The leading women introduced here were forerunners in understanding the power relations at the heart of international affairs. Their drive to enshrine fundamental rights for women, children, and all people of the world stands as a testament to what can be accomplished when global thinking meets local action.

About the Author

Katherine M. Marino is associate professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles.
For more information about Katherine M. Marino, visit the Author Page.

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Marino talks to Lilian Calles Barger for the New Books Network podcast. (6/24/2019, running time 54:22)