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Kumari Jayawardena (Sinhala: කුමාරි ජයවර්ධන; born 1931) is a leading feminist figure and academic in Sri Lanka. Her work is part of the canon of third-world feminism which conceptualizes feminist philosophies that are indigenous and unique to non-Western societies and nations rather than mere offshoots of Western feminism.
Jayawardena is the author of several books, including Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World, for which she was selected for the Feminist Fortnight award in the United Kingdom in 1986 and was cited by Ms. Magazine in 1992 as writing one of the "20 most important books of the feminist decades" (1970–1990). This text is widely used in Women's Studies programs around the world and still remains relevant in today's world.
In Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World, Jayawardena reconstructs the history of women's rights movements in Asia and the Middle East from the 19th century to the 1980s, focusing on Egypt, Turkey, Iran, India, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. Her research states that feminism was not a foreign ideology imposed on Third World countries, but instead, developed on its own in Asia and the Middle East as women struggled for equal rights and against the subordination of women in the home and in society in general.
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