Week 13: Women’s Issues Parts A&B

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According to the Women and Their Environments article assigned for this week, “a recent World Bank study (2002) found that gender equality is essential for countries’ economies…sustainable development is not possible without equity,” (11). If that’s the reality, why is gender equality such a looming issue for most of the world? Box 8 of that article points out that only seven developed countries have achieved high levels of gender equality according to MDG 3 indicators. Argentina, Costa Rica and South Africa are the highest, yet those countries have gender-related issues. For example, in Argentina, human sex-trafficking is a tremendous issue. If sex slavery is an issue in a country that is supposed to have one of the highest levels of gender equality, that is a giant red flag that the world must pay more attention to.

In 1945, the United Nations Charter reaffirmed the equal rights of women and men in its preamble (20). Fast forward to 2003, and the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development makes gender equality a cross-cutting issue in all forthcoming work up until 2015 (24). It’s 2014, and we know that equality has not been met. What more is it going to take? How much longer are women going to have to wait until we are equal to men?

Key points to equality include access to work, knowledge systems and education and access to and control over resources and their benefits. “Status, power and culture determine whether a person can realize her or his capabilities,” (25). Those rights are limited, or restricted, in too many places in the world.

The Women’s Rights article we read says that “a major global women’s rights treaty was ratified by the majority of the world’s nations a few decades ago.” It lists several bullet points of successes made for gender equality due to the treaty.

A few examples include:

  • Morocco gave women greater equality and protection of their human rights within marriage and divorce by passing a new family code in 2004
  • India has accepted legal obligations to eliminate discrimination against women and outlawed sexual harassment in the workplace
  • In Cameroon, the Convention is applied in local courts and groundbreaking decisions on gender equality are being made by the country’s high courts
  • Mexico passed a law in 2007 toughening its laws on violence against women

Despite of this, the article’s section about lack of progress made for gender inequality is noticeably longer than the success section.

“As Amnesty International also points out, “Governments are not living up to their promises under the Women’s Convention to protect women from discrimination and violence such as rape and female genital mutilation.” There are many governments who have also not ratified the Convention, including the U.S. Many countries that have ratified it do so with many reservations.”

Issues vary from place to place for women. I think rather than the U.N. having to implement policies, each country should have to look at their own data and issues, create laws protecting women accordingly, and pass those onto the U.N. for approval to the U.N. can see that those specific laws are implemented. “Women’s rights” is too big of an umbrella, containing so many issues, to not be further specified.

The video starts out by saying “a women has the same value as a man.” In Chad, it is one of the most difficult places in the world to be a woman due to lack of rights. Africare is helping women in Chad to create various economic initiatives geared toward women. Africare gave the women flour mills and helped them start a restaurant for economic independence. This has helped women in Chad become entrepreneurs. Extra income allows them to invest into their families, or even buying goats to buy and sell and have more food for their families. One woman discusses that she has been able to take in 5 orphans be cause of her extra income.

Women, Work and the Economy talks about benefits that can be achieved by societies where women have realized full economic viability. For example, it talks about how the equal-employment of women would allow companies to make use of the available talent pool and raise productivity of female-owned companies.

Africare also established literacy centers for women, open to any woman who wants to learn how to read and write. Education gives women more power. This can also help them develop their full economic potential. Literacy rates, as a whole, are still lower for women than men, especially in South Asia and East/North Africa.

*All sources used for this post were mentioned, and from readings on Blackboard*

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