Presentation on theme: "Women’s Rights Around the World By: York University."— Presentation transcript:
Women’s Rights Around the World By: York University
US President Nixon (1969-74) 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.”
Until recent times, women’s issues, interests and concerns had been excluded from the political arena, for two basic reasons: 1. The division between private and public spheres 2. 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
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, rape, 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
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
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), founder of modern feminism
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.”
Elizabeth Stanton (1815-1902), a founder of the women’s suffrage movement in the US
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.“
3 waves of the women’s liberation movement 1. 19 th – early 20 th century Main goal – political equality (right to vote) 2. 1960s – 1980s Main goal – social and cultural equality 3. 1990s – Continuing struggle for social equality
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
The plight of girls in the Global South (Julie Mullins, Gender Discrimination Children In Need Inc. )Children In Need Inc. 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.
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.
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."
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.
Girls who survive are often subjected to neglect and abuse, both physical and sexual. 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 and “sexually-impure” women.
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.
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.
Why is this important? As Americans, we believe in democracy and equal human rights for all As Americans, we are part of a world society As Americans, therefore, we need to educate ourselves on the plight of women around the world and do what we can to assist them in their fight for equality
Opportunities to help women around the world will be discussed next week as part of a final Civil Rights Unit project!
The Better Half: Helping Women Help the World, by Isobel Coleman, Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2010: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/art icles/65728/isobel-coleman/the- better-half