Women and Religion
Global Lives in Focus
by Susan M. Shaw, Editor
August 2021, 320pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7196-2
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7197-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Devadasi, literally “maidservant of the god,” refers to an ancient Hindu woman who served the gods through singing and dancing in the temples and was thought to be divinely ordained.

This volume offers students a broad examination of the impact of religion on the lives of women around the world, focusing on differences among women, indigenous religions, the impact of religion in colonization, and resistance to religious oppression.

Sexism, pervasive in religion, limits access to high leadership positions; dictates gender-related religious practices and roles; portrays women in limited ways in sacred texts; excludes or condemns them if they are lesbian, bisexual, or transgender; and makes them subject to violence by people of other faiths as well as their own.

This volume is organized into eight chapters, each focusing on a different region of the world—North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania. Chapters cover women’s status and experiences in the religions of each region, including indigenous religions and such major world religions as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Additionally, they cover issues of religion for women, such as women in religious leadership, women in sacred texts, LGBTQ issues in religion, the intersections of religion and politics for women, the legacy of Christian missionaries on the colonial project, religious violence against women, and women’s resistance to religious oppression.


  • Offers readers an overview of women's experiences in many religions across the various regions of the world
  • Highlights intersectionality and understanding how gender shapes and is shaped by race, sexuality, social class, age, ability, nation of origin, and religion within structures of institutional power
  • Analyzes key issues affecting women in religion around the world, ranging from religious leadership to religious violence and clergy sex abuse
  • Offers examples of how women resist sexist oppression in religion and find sources of liberation within religion
  • Presents sidebars throughout the text to provide insightful information that enhances the reader's experience
  • Features an at-a-glance chronological timeline of women and world religions throughout history, from ancient times to the present
Susan M. Shaw is professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at Oregon State University. She is general editor of Women's Lives around the World: A Global Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO); author of Reflective Faith: A Theological Toolbox for Women and God Speaks to Us, Too: Southern Baptist Women on Church, Home, and Society; and coauthor of Intersectional Theology: An Introductory Guide.


LJ Best Reference of 2021—Library Journal, March 1, 2022

2022 Choice Outstanding Academic Title—Choice, December 1, 2022


"Highly recommended for students working on research papers or projects. This work will also appeal to anyone interested in learning about the religious lives of women or to those interested in a more inclusive society."—Library Journal, November 1, 2021

"Clear, concise, and informative, 'Women and Religion' is an excellent resource for those just beginning their study of these issues, high school students included."—Choice, August 1, 2022

Women and Society around the World

Women make up half of the population of the world, yet their roles in society and the issues they face differ far greatly from those of their male counterparts. In some corners of the world, women are deemed unworthy of an education; in other areas, women scientists are pioneers in their fields. This series investigates key topics that are important to women’s lives around the world, from education and politics to violence and employment.

Each volume in the series encompasses a global view of contemporary women, with chapters designed to focus on each world region. Regions discussed include North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania. While chapters discuss each region in general, specific examples of key traditions and customs help to shed light on cultural nuances among countries within each region. High school and general readers will be able to make cross-cultural comparisons, learning how views of women differ from culture to culture, how and why women face issues that men do not, and steps that are being taken to combat these challenges. A chronology, bibliography, and sidebars highlighting key women round out these introductory chapter books.


  • Preface [+/-1,000 words]
  • Introduction [+/-3,000 words]
  • Chronology [+/-2,000 words]
  • Chapter 1: North America [+/- 10,000]
  • Chapter 2: Latin America and the Caribbean [+/- 10,000]
  • Chapter 3: Europe [+/- 10,000]
  • Chapter 4: North Africa and the Middle East [+/- 10,000]
  • Chapter 5: Sub-Saharan Africa [+/- 10,000]
  • Chapter 6: Central and East Asia [+/- 10,000]
  • Chapter 7: South and Southeast Asia [+/- 10,000]
  • Chapter 8: Oceania [+/- 10,000]
  • Bibliography [+/-2,000 words]
  • 20 Sidebars [+/-2,000 words]
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