Many different female figures appear in the pages of this book, from toiling peasants and outworkers to the urban housewife astonished by her first indoor bathroom, from Catholic, Communist or Fascist organisers to feminists of many hues. There are women prepared to carry bombs to liberate their country, commit murder to save a daughter’s honour, risk their lives in backstreet abortion or even willing to die for Mussolini. There are women blazing the trail in employment, education or politics and many welfare activists, some doing ‘God’s work’ and others for whom welfare was imbued with deeply political, sometimes feminist or even national meanings. There are browbeaten daughters-in-law in sharecropping households, white widows, schoolgirls, migrant live-in carers, cabinet ministers and Fascist gymnasts.
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