Empowering gender equality
“How important it is to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes.”
-- Maya Angelou
"…gender equality is critical to the development and peace of every nation."
-- Kofi Annan
The reason that we emphasize “women’s rights” within human rights goes beyond history. Traditionally, women have not enjoyed equal access to basic human rights, protections, resources, and services. Unfortunately, gender inequality is still present in every society and remains as a huge barrier for the world.
Unequal situations for women vary significantly by region, country, culture, society, community and etc. Also, there are various conditions and places where women are disadvantaged. The origin of the discrimination is sometimes religion, beliefs, cultural traditions or political interests. These excuses in some occasions encourage the unequal and discriminatory treatment of women, thus creating oppressed communities. Moreover, women’s categorization according to their race, sexual orientation, disabilities, economic status and some other factors triggers more and more discriminative actions in societies.
There are also two terms which explain different types of discrimination and give us courage to further push for women’s rights. First, sexism is a form of discrimination and stereotyping that oppresses women. Second, patriarchy is a system where males are dominant. It is so common in many societies and also within families. Consequently, some violence against women is seen mostly in these types of communities and families.
Recent acts of violence pertaining to women’s rights are: violence within family, rape, sexual abuse, torture, etc. Some of the other issues commonly asked to be recognized as part of women’s rights are: bodily integrity and autonomy, the right to vote (universal suffrage), hold public office, work, fair salary or equal pay, own property and to enter into legal contracts, education, serve in the military, to have marital, parental and religious rights.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE? AND BY WHO?
When we recall the gender movement, we remember the Feminist movement to defend gender equality in organized ways for hundreds of years since the mid-19th century. Western feminists fought for the recognition of women as "persons" entitled to vote in elections or to receive an advanced education; later, feminists fought for shared responsibility of unpaid housework and childrearing, for non-discrimination in the workplace and to earn equal pay for equal work, for women's autonomy and reproductive rights, proper health care, and an end to widespread violence against women. Furthermore, feminists are also working to end sexism and transform patriarchal institutions in various communities.
Today, many women’s rights organizations continue to do important work in these areas in many countries. Through international cooperation and borderless networks, women’s voices started to be heard more and their voice started to be more effective in different communities.
As a result, there have been major international efforts focused at eradicating these inequalities. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is the main international human rights treaty for women adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979. In The Convention CEDAW, it is often described as an international bill of rights for women. The detailed document defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for international action to end such discrimination.
POWER TO WOMEN, POWER TO ALL OF US!