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Gender Politics.

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Presentation on theme: "Gender Politics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender Politics


3 Women do two-thirds of the world’s work
but receive only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of land. Women in developing countries on average carry 20 litres of water per day over 6 km Women in many cases are the primary care givers, and balancing the challenges of work and family is complex. Globally there is still a gender pay gap, a lack of women parliamentarians, and women's health overall around the world is worse than that of men..

4 Gender politics is an approach to the study of politics which focuses on:
the social construction of gender - masculinity and femininity the role of gender in political and social life

5 Biological differences between human beings, such as sex and race, have traditionally been used as grounds for social and political inequality, discrimination, subjugation, and oppression The division of social roles between men and women in the family is historically the earliest form of division of labour It is also the earliest class division, which arises hand-in-hand with the establishment of the institution of private property Patriarchy (literally, “rule by the father”, now understood as the dominant role of men in society) is the oldest form of social inequality Perception of patriarchy as a “natural order”. How natural?

6 US President Nixon ( ) once said, in a conversation with aides: "I’m not for women in any job. I don’t want any of them around. Thank God we don’t have any in the cabinet ... I don’t think a woman should be in any government job whatever. I mean, I really don’t. The reason why I do is mainly because they are erratic. And emotional. Men are erratic and emotional, too, but the point is a woman is more likely to be.”

7 Women dominate Swiss politics:

8 Until recent times, women’s issues, interests and concerns had been excluded from the political arena, for two basic reasons: The division between private and public spheres The patriarchal assumptions of the language and practice of politics Women’s struggle for equality of rights has been one of the key components of the global struggle for democracy

9 Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), founder of modern feminism

10 From Mary Wollstonecraft’s book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792):
“If women be educated for dependence; that is, to act according to the will of another fallible being, and submit, right or wrong, to power, where are we to stop?” “The divine right of husbands, like the divine right of kings, may, it is hoped, in this enlightened age, be contested without danger.” “I do not wish (women) to have power over men, but over themselves.”

11 Historian Henry Noel Brailsford, in Shelley, Godwin, and Their Circle (1913), considered the Rights of Woman "perhaps the most original book of its century." "What was absolutely new in the world's history was that for the first time a woman dared to sit down to write a book which was not an echo of men's thinking, nor an attempt to do rather well what some man had done a little better, but a first exploration of the problems of society and morals from a standpoint which recognized humanity without ignoring sex."

12 Elizabeth Stanton (1815-1902), a founder of the women’s suffrage movement in the US

13 Elizabeth Stanton, Declaration of Sentiments, 1848:
"The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.“

14 The facts about gender discrimination, mid-19th century Europe:
Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law Women were not allowed to vote Women had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation Married women had no property rights Husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity Divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women Women had to pay property taxes although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes

15 Most occupations were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned Women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law Women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students With only a few exceptions, women were not allowed to participate in the affairs of the church Women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men

16 3 waves of the women’s liberation movement
1. 19th – early 20th century Main goal – political equality (right to vote) s – 1980s Main goal – social and cultural equality s – Continuing struggle for social equality

17 In the most basic sense, political (electoral) democracies began to appear in the world only with the extension of political rights to women – in the early 20th century Labour movements and socialist parties played a key role in the struggle for women’s rights “Every Socialist recognizes the dependence of the workman on the capitalist, and cannot understand that others, and especially the capitalists themselves, should fail to recognize it also; but the same Socialist often does not recognize the dependence of women on men because the question touches his own dear self more or less nearly.” August Bebel, Leader of German Social Democratic Party, in: Woman and Socialism, 1883

18 Clara Zetkin (1857-1933), a German socialist feminist

19 Women’s suffrage march, New York, May 1913

20 Suffrage (right to vote) in the USA
1776: landed (owning real estate) white men over 21 1920: women Women allowed to vote: UK – 1928 Canada – mid-1920s (in all provinces) In 20th century revolutions: Granting women the right to vote is a standard feature, reflecting economic needs and women’s demands

21 Petrograd, Russia, February 1917
Petrograd, Russia, February Women in line for groceries spark the Russian Revolution

22 Russia, March Women’s demonstration: “Voting rights are not universal if women don’t have them”

23 Larisa Reisner, Russian revolutionary and feminist leader (1895-1926)

24 Civil marriage registration, Russia, 1920s

25 Soviet poster, 1920s: “Down with kitchen slavery!”

26 Women mastering male professions, Russia, 1920s

27 World War II: Soviet women medics


29 Soviet women in the war: pilots

30 Inertia and resistance Continuing struggles for equality and justice
The fundamental economic, social, and cultural structures of patriarchy remain strong Inertia and resistance Continuing struggles for equality and justice Reproductive rights Domestic violence Maternity leave Equal pay Sexual harassment Sexual violence


32 The plight of girls in the Global South: http://childreninneed
When a boy is born in most developing countries, friends and relatives exclaim congratulations. A son means insurance. He will inherit his father's property and get a job to help support the family. When a girl is born, the reaction is very different. Some women weep when they find out their baby is a girl because, to them, a daughter is just another expense. Her place is in the home, not in the world of men. In some parts of India, it's traditional to greet a family with a newborn girl by saying, "The servant of your household has been born."

33 In developing countries, the birth of a girl causes great upheaval for poor families. When there is barely enough food to survive, any child puts a strain on a family's resources. But the monetary drain of a daughter feels even more severe, especially in regions where dowry is practised. A new bride is at the mercy of her in-laws should they decide her dowry is too small. UNICEF estimates that around 5,000 Indian women are killed in dowry-related incidents each year.

34 The developing world is full of poverty-stricken families who see their daughters as an economic predicament. That attitude has resulted in the widespread neglect of baby girls in Africa, Asia, and South America. In many communities, it's a regular practice to breastfeed girls for a shorter time than boys so that women can try to get pregnant again with a boy as soon as possible. As a result, girls miss out on life-giving nutrition during a crucial window of their development, which stunts their growth and weakens their resistance to disease.

35 Sex-selective abortions are even more common than infanticides in India. They are growing ever more frequent as technology makes it simple and cheap to determine a fetus' gender. In Jaipur, a Western Indian city of 2 million people, 3,500 sex-determined abortions are carried out every year. The gender ratio across India has dropped to an unnatural low of 927 females to 1,000 males due to infanticide and sex-based abortions.

36 China has its own long legacy of female infanticide
China has its own long legacy of female infanticide. In the last two decades, the government's infamous one-child policy has weakened the country's track record even more. By restricting household size to limit the population, the policy gives parents just one chance to produce a coveted son before being forced to pay heavy fines for additional children. In 1997, the World Health Organization declared, "…more than 50 million women were estimated to be 'missing' in China because of the institutionalized killing and neglect of girls due to Beijing's population control program."

37 Statistics show that the neglect continues as they grow up
Statistics show that the neglect continues as they grow up. Young girls receive less food, healthcare and fewer vaccinations overall than boys. Not much changes as they become women. Tradition calls for women to eat last, often reduced to picking over the leftovers from the men and boys.

38 Women in every society are vulnerable to abuse
Women in every society are vulnerable to abuse. But the threat is more severe for girls and women who live in societies where women's rights mean practically nothing. Mothers who lack their own rights have little protection to offer their daughters, much less themselves, from male relatives and other authority figures. The frequency of rape and violent attacks against women in the developing world is alarming. Forty-five percent of Ethiopian women say that they have been assaulted in their lifetimes. In 1998, 48 percent of Palestinian women admitted to being abused by an intimate partner within the past year.

39 In some cultures, the physical and psychological trauma of rape is compounded by an additional stigma. In cultures that maintain strict sexual codes for women, if a woman steps out of bounds —by choosing her own husband, flirting in public, or seeking divorce from an abusive partner—she has brought dishonor to her family and must be disciplined. Often, discipline means execution. Families commit "honor killings" to salvage their reputation tainted by disobedient women.

40 For the young girls who escape these pitfalls and grow up relatively safely, daily life is still incredibly hard. School might be an option for a few years, but most girls are pulled out at age 9 or 10 when they're useful enough to work all day at home. Nine million more girls than boys miss out on school every year, according to UNICEF. While their brothers continue to go to classes or pursue their hobbies and play, they join the women to do the bulk of the housework.

41 Housework in developing countries consists of continuous, difficult physical labor.
A girl is likely to work from before daybreak until the light drains away. She walks barefoot long distances several times a day carrying heavy buckets of water, most likely polluted, just to keep her family alive. She cleans, grinds corn, gathers fuel, tends to the fields, bathes her younger siblings, and prepares meals until she sits down to her own after all the men in the family have eaten. Most families can't afford modern appliances, so her tasks must be done by hand—crushing corn into meal with heavy rocks, scrubbing laundry against rough stones, kneading bread and cooking gruel over a blistering open fire. There is no time left in the day to learn to read and write or to play with friends. She collapses exhausted each night, ready to wake up the next morning to start another long workday.

42 Feminist Theory A summary by Professor Sandra Whitworth, York University

43 Even though the word ‘feminism’ implies a single monolithic approach, in fact feminists argue and disagree with one another quite strongly about the main sources of oppression and what to do about them

44 Liberal feminists: concerned with representation (and primarily, the under-representation) of women within the public spheres of modern life Why are women under-represented? How do we make that representation more equal?

45 Radical feminists: locate relations of inequality in patriarchy
Women and men are essentially different from one another They would agree with liberals that women need to be more represented in the public sphere, but not on equality rights grounds, but rather on the ground that women bring a different voice to politics They would also expand the ‘sites’ of politics: not simply the public sphere, but also the private sphere, the bedroom, the family, the body

46 Postmodern feminists agree that politics exist everywhere, but resist the radical feminist impulse to define women and men More interested in deconstructing the assumed naturalness of various political categories, including the category ‘woman’

47 Critical feminists agree with postmodernists that the prevailing discourses about femininity and masculinity are essential to understand how both women and men are oppressed, but argue for greater attention to the material conditions of people’s lives – i.e. their real lived condition, which will be affected by class, race, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and so on

48 Islamic feminism aims for the full equality of all Muslims, regardless of gender, in public and private life. advocates women’s rights, gender equality, and social justice grounded in an Islamic framework. Rooted in Islam, the movement's pioneers have also utilized secular and Western feminist discourses and recognize the role of Islamic feminism as part of an integrated global feminist movement. Advocates of the movement seek to highlight the deeply rooted teachings of equality in the Quran and encourage a questioning of the patriarchal interpretation of Islamic teaching through the Quran, hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad), and sharia (Islamic law) towards the creation of a more equal and just society.

49 Deepa Kumar: “Colonial feminism is based on the appropriation of women’s rights in the service of empire and has been widely utilised in justifying aggression in the Middle East… A ubiquitous, taken-for-granted ideological framework that has been developed over two centuries in the West. This framework, referred to by scholars as colonial feminism, is based on the appropriation of women’s rights in the service of empire. Birthed in the nineteenth century in the context of European colonialism, it rests on the construction of a barbaric, misogynistic “Muslim world” that must be civilized by a liberal, enlightened West; a rhetoric also known as gendered Orientalism.” – Deepa Kumar’s lecture:

50 Women’s rights and Islamophobia
Prof. Reza Aslan, U. of California, Riverside:

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