Women have traditionally been keepers of the home - a position usually thought of as powerless.

However, at a recent conference on "Power" at the University of Rochester, a political scientist argued that the home can function as a center for economic activity, as a place of healing in times of sickness and as the place where procreation occurs."All of these things are central to human life and can therefore be seen as powerful," said Jean Elshtain of Vanderbilt University.

"It is only our society's values that have interpreted the home and women's role in it as a powerless position," she said.