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Politics and Mothers

  • By: Marsha V. Marotta
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

For much of history, the exclusion of women from the world of politics was based on legal, moral, and social beliefs about women's reproductive role—that is, on their motherhood or their potential motherhood. Although today, women may vote and run for political office in most countries in the world, they continue to be underrepresented in politics—a fact that may be traced to definitions of citizenship that focus on soldiers and workers. These definitions make it difficult or impossible for women, especially mothers, to enjoy full citizenship rights because these roles conflict with their caretaking responsibilities.

When women have become involved politically as voters, activists, or candidates for public office, they often have succeeded by calling attention to their connection to children and claiming this as a ...

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