Women’s Rights [Week 14]

Blog pic 1 Week 14
Market in the Street of Hoian, photo credit to Khánh Hmoong, used under Creative Commons

All across the world, women are instrumental in providing for the family. Not only to they arrange the activities of the household, but they also bear most of the responsibility for bearing and caring for children, feeding the household, and making necessary preparations for the future. However, despite these important roles, the rights that women have (or lack thereof) are not reflective of these perceived duties. Many nations, developed and developing, have taken steps to rectify this, but there is still progress to be made.

The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women was a major step in working towards policies that supported women’s rights. Many countries have signed and incorporated its principles into practice, and while some policies have substantially helped women, some have not.

Positive policies have been carried out in numerous country. In India, sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace, allowing women to work more effectively  without the fear for personal safety and security. This helps close the gap between men and women’s safety and assurance in the workplace, in which the question of safety may have kept many women from working. In Uganda, CEDAW creates a foundation for women who are fighting for equal rights to land ownership. In many countries, land or some other kind of tangible asset is needed to gain access to credit, to participate in community decisions, or to even  be seen as a contributing member of society. This is seen particularly in Uganda. Although not all countries have ratified CEDAW (including the United States!), the policies that it has helped support and implement are evidence of its success.

However, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to any women’s rights-oriented policy is putting them into practice. While countries can lay claim to CEDAW, making sure the principles that it set forth are being followed is another challenge

Justice Gavel, photo credit to Tori Rector, used under Creative Commons
Justice Gavel, photo credit to Tori Rector, used under Creative Commons

in and of itself. The UN’s YouTube video describes de facto and de jure discrimination against women, in which what is happening in reality differs from that which is set into law. I feel it is important to mention these concepts. At face value, many policies may seem to push for equality between men and women. But there are often hidden barriers for women, such as a lack of property ownership or a required experience only men can have, policies are rendered practically ineffective.

In order to create more sustainable gender equality, I think that specific policies need to be made in order to address this issue. At the moment, signing CEDAW requires that countries report their progress. I believe a policy that would enact random checks, rather than planned check-ins, would push countries towards more effective and rapid change. The policies are there in most countries, but the reports are only a representation of the reality.

The IMF determines that women contribute significantly to economy through unpaid tasks that they do. Women often have less time to devote to work, even if they are self-employed, and economic instability brings vulnerability as well. When women are economically unstable, they are more susceptible to falling into poverty, further emphasizing the feminization of poverty.

Women in the Mustard Fields..., photo credit to Nitin Bhardwaj, used under Creative Commons
Women in the Mustard Fields… ,photo credit to Nitin Bhardwaj, used under Creative Commons

As seen in the article The Women of ISIS, elaborate and well-structured organizations of women can be crafted that allow the women to work towards a general purpose. Women from Sri Lanka are mentioned here, and defend their militarism as a method to support and defend their values where traditional systems have never protected them. It is even take up as an alternative to the dangers that come with living in active war zones. Women are more than capable of coming together under a common cause, and this is an example of it.

When women are economically empowered, there are numerous benefits for not only them, but for the community as well. In the featured YouTube video, women in communities in Chad were supported by Africare in the pursuit of independent businesses. These businesses included harvesting and maintaining crops, running a restaurant, and raising goats. Not only did the women become more financially independent, but their ventures allowed them to put more resources into others.

The income they receive allows them to not only feed and educate their own children, but to take in others in the community as well. In many countries women are the planners and keepers for their households, and the money that they are earning allows them to put their own plans into action, rather than having to depend on a man to give them permission or the resources.

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