Women and European Politics is a comprehensive country-by-country survey of the changing political and economic history of women in Eastern and Western Europe over the last two centuries. Joni Lovenduski first discusses the contributions of the "first wave" feminists who fought for women suffrage as well as for reforms in family life, wage work, and educational opportunities. A more economically independent group of "second wave" feminists were concerned primarily with women's political activism, reproductive rights, child care provision for wage-earning women, laws against rape and sexual harassment, and consciousness-raising about women's oppression.
Throughout her consideration of these issues, Lovenduski remains keenly aware of the unique situation for the women in each country discussed, as well as the divisions created among women due to differing social class and ethnic background. She is also skeptical of official press reports and accounts of women's political activity and aware of the interplay between professed government ideology and actual social and political practices as they affect women's daily lives.