What we're reading - Spring 2010

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Publication Date: 
Wed, 2010-03-31

Recommended resources from our library

Women and health: today’s evidence tomorrow’s agenda
World Health Organization (November 2009)

Despite considerable progress in the past decades, societies continue to fail to meet the health care needs of women at key moments of their lives, particularly in their adolescent years and in older age. These are the key findings of the WHO report Women and health: today’s evidence tomorrow’s agenda.

WHO calls for urgent action both within the health sector and beyond to improve the health and lives of girls and women around the world, from birth to older age.

The report provides the latest and most comprehensive evidence available to date on women’s specific needs and health challenges over their entire life-course. The report includes the latest global and regional figures on the health and leading causes of death in women from birth, through childhood, adolescence and adulthood, to older age.

Launching the report, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan called for urgent action both within the health sector and beyond to improve the health and lives of girls and women around the world, from birth to older age.

“If women are denied a chance to develop their full human potential, including their potential to lead healthier and at least somewhat happier lives, is society as a whole really healthy? What does this say about the state of social progress in the 21st century?” asked Dr Chan.

Prescribed Norms

Cheryl Krasnick Warsh (University of Toronto Press, March 2010)

In her meticulously researched history, Cheryl Krasnick Warsh challenges readers to rethink the norms of women’s health and treatment in Canada and the United States since 1800. Prescribed Norms details a disturbing socio-medical history that limits and discounts women’s own knowledge of their bodies and their health.

By comparing ritual practices of various cultures, Prescribed Norms demonstrates how looking at women’s health through a masculine lens has distorted current medical understandings of menstruation, menopause, and childbirth, and has often led to faulty medical conclusions. Warsh also illuminates how the shift from informal to more formal, institutionalized treatment impacts both women’s health care and women’s roles as health practitioners.

Always accessible and occasionally irreverent, Warsh’s narrative provides readers with multiple foundations for reconsidering women’s health and women’s health care.

Beyond Expectation

Jacquelyne Luce (University of Toronto Press, March 2010)

An in-depth study of lesbian, bi, and queer women’s experiences of thinking about and trying to become a parent. Beyond Expectations draws on 82 narrative interviews conducted during the late 1990s in British Columbia. Jacquelyne Luce chronicles these women’s experiences, which took place from 1980 to 2000, during a period that saw significant changes to the governance of assisted reproduction and the status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents and same-sex parents.

Bearing Witness: Living with Ovarian Cancer

Kathryn Carter and Laurie Elit (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, September 2009)

Bearing Witness is a collection of stories from women who went through the diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and treatment for it, only to find that the cancer recurred and any hope of recovery was gone. These women represent a spectrum of ages, ethnic backgrounds, marital circumstances, and professional experiences. From their stories we learn how each woman shapes the meaning of her life. Facing a life crisis can make one bitter and angry, but it can also provide the key to a thankful and generous spirit within. Kathryn Carter’s concluding essay places these stories in the context of contemporary discourses of illness and healing.

Babies for the Nation: The Medicalization of Motherhood in Quebec, 1910-1970

Denyse Baillargeon, translated by W. Donald Wilson (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009)

The province of Quebec in the early twentieth century recorded infant mortality rates, particularly among French-speaking Catholics, that were among the highest in the Western world. This “bleeding of the nation” gave birth to a vast movement for child welfare that paved the way for a medicalization of childbearing. Showing the variety of social actors involved in this process (doctors, nurses, women’s groups, members of the clergy, private enterprise, the state, and the mothers themselves), this study delineates the alliances and the conflicts that arose between them in a complex phenomenon that profoundly changed the nature of childbearing in Quebec.

Restoring the Balance: First Nations Women, Community and Culture

Gail Gurthie Valaskakis, Madeleine Dion Stout, and Eric Guimond (University of Manitoba Press, February 2009)

Restoring the Balance brings to light the work First Nations women have performed, and continue to perform, in cultural continuity and community development. It illustrates the challenges and successes they have had in the areas of law, politics, education, community healing, language, and art, while suggesting significant options for sustained improvement of individual, family, and community well-being.

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