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House of Anansi Press

Power Shift

The Longest Revolution

Written by Sally Armstrong

Published September 17, 2019 | ISBN 9781487006792
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Feminism & Feminist Theory

Cover of Power Shift

Regular price $19.95 CAD

304 pages | 8 in × 5 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book

Power Shift

The Longest Revolution

Sally Armstrong

Bestselling author, journalist, and human rights activist Sally Armstrong argues that humankind requires the equal status of women and girls.

The facts are indisputable. When women get even a bit of education, the whole of society improves. When they get a bit of healthcare, everyone lives longer. In many ways, it has never been a better time to be a woman: a fundamental shift has been occurring. Yet from Toronto to Timbuktu the promise of equality still eludes half the world’s population.

In her 2019 CBC Massey Lectures, award-winning author, journalist, and human rights activist Sally Armstrong illustrates how the status of the female half of humanity is crucial to our collective surviving and thriving. Drawing on anthropology, social science, literature, politics, and economics, she examines the many beginnings of the role of women in society, and the evolutionary revisions over millennia in the realms of sex, religion, custom, culture, politics, and economics. What ultimately comes to light is that gender inequality comes at too high a cost to us all.


Chapter 1: In the Beginning(s) — the impact of agriculture, industrialization, and religion on the status of women

Chapter 2: Sex — from the pleasure principle to rape

Chapter 3: Religion, Culture, and Custom — the roles they’ve played over time

Chapter 4: Politics and Society — the power and the fury of changing world opinions

Chapter 5: The Economics and Energetics of Tomorrow — the future possibilities for girls and women

About the Author

Sally Armstrong

SALLY ARMSTRONG is an award-winning author, journalist, and human rights activist. She is the author of four bestselling books: Ascent of Women: A New Age Is Dawning for Every Mother’s Daughter, The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor, Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan, and Bitter Roots, Tender Shoots: The Uncertain Fate of Afghanistan’s Women. Armstrong was the first journalist to bring the story of the women of Afghanistan to the world. She has also covered stories in conflict zones from Bosnia and Somalia to Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, Jordan, and Israel. She is a four-time winner of the Amnesty International Canada media award, the recipient of ten honorary doctorate degrees, and an Officer of the Order of Canada. She was born and raised in Montreal, lives in Toronto, and spends the summer in New Brunswick.

Awards and Praise


“This is a far-reaching account of the plight of women and girls throughout history and across continents, often told via the moving personal stories of survivors who have endured sexism’s many atrocities … With her thorough research and undeniable gift for personal storytelling, Armstrong dispels faulty beliefs and damaging myths; lays bare horrific injustices; and illuminates a variety of economic, political, and cultural truths … An ambitious and thoroughly convincing undertaking.” — Quill & Quire



“For every tragic, no-hope-for-humanity-level injustice in Ascent of Women, there’s a corresponding story of triumph.” — Globe and Mail

“Armstrong writes that women in the Congo, in Senegal, in India, in Pakistan and other countries the world over are questioning their oppression and banding together to make positive change … Armstrong’s stories are difficult to hear, but do contain grains of hope.” — Vancouver Sun


“Sally Armstrong views Afghanistan through the eyes of its women. Her story [of Dr. Sima Samar] is one of hope and triumph, as are most of the tales in this straightforward, uplifting volume.” — Washington Post

“Veiled Threat’s strength lies in its empirical portrayal of the injustices and inhumanities visited upon the Afghan people, especially woman and girls … [and] is to be applauded for its emotionally gripping disclosure of suffering and injustice.” — Globe and Mail

“A brief but brilliant book about the hidden power of the women of Afghanistan … written in blazingly clear language, blessedly free of academic pretensions.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“Emotionally demanding reading … a passionate portrayal of recent events in Afghanistan from the perspective of a committed, feminist outsider.” — Hamilton Spectator

“A powerful book that shows how women can change the world.” — Toronto Sun