Gender Equality and Women’s Rights 100 Years On

by Paul I. Adujie

Women Rights Are Human Rights. This is so simple and self-evident, and yet, it is not what is practiced worldwide

Worldwide, women continue to suffer disproportionately from abuses and denials of basic human rights, sadly so.

Women suffer disproportionately more than the rest of the world’s population, whether at a time of peace or at time of war. In essence, women suffer, in peace time and at war times. Women suffer from physical-mental abuses and brutalities, horrors and displacements and dislocations at times of war and social upheavals, as well as denial and deprivations of economic and political powers and opportunities at times of peace. Even at earthquake aftermaths as well. Women disproportionately suffer worldwide, relatively and comparatively, women suffer more

Women are frequently denied the opportunities to be allocators and managers of resources. Women are too often denied opportunities to be facilitators and accelerators of human development. This is because, women worldwide have had the odds stacked against them in matters of access to political and economic power. Women have been perennially denied formal education and skills acquisition opportunities, compared to men worldwide.

The position and condition of women in the world is rather illogical and counter intuitive, given the super-majority of female versus male population worldwide. Any business entity or enterprise and corporation or firm which aspires for profitability, cannot and should not disregard the contribution through productivity and profits, the potentials of more than half its workforce.

Sadly however, the contributions through productivity and profits of women, which constitutes more than half the world population are frequently disregarded and discounted by a majority of governments on earth.

Since 1910 when women gathered in Copenhagen to hold a Conference on Women, in an effort to discuss the plight and predicament worldwide, there have been some incremental steps to elevate women and issues which affect women human rights more particularly, due to gender. And even now, gender equality is still aspirational.

Since the epochal events of 1910 and 1911, Women Day has been celebrated annually and this 2010 is the 100 years of attempts to bring focus and needful attention to human issues with particular impacts and effects on women worldwide. After these 100 years, the world is still far from gender-neutral or fair and balanced for women

The month of March is celebrated as Women Month every year in most countries and the March 8th 2010 will be marked by the United Nations in New York City as International Women Day.

The Secretary of State for the United States, Mrs. Hilary Rodham Clinton, has selected several foreign women for recognition and awards, for their efforts in advancing the rights of women in their home countries. The State Department under Mrs. Clinton as Secretary of State has been vehement in rejecting the oppression of women, discrimination against women and brutalities and horrors, including rapes, which are too frequently directed against women.

I commend Mrs. Clinton and her Department for these efforts. But, it is rather troubling to note that most of the women in Mrs. Clinton’s award list are from nations which the United States consider hostile or unfriendly, such as Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe etc. And without diminishing the accomplishments of the women on Mrs. Clinton’s list, the nations from which some of these women were selected, are just too conveniently on the front-burner of US criticisms!

This, even though, women face inequalities, oppressions, discrimination and gender motivated injustices in so many nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait etc nations with which the United States have excellent diplomatic and trade-business relationships, and yet, the US have not used such relationships to encourage, nudge or even pressure Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive cars, vote and be voted for at elections! Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait etc with very cozy-warm and fuzzy relationship with the US and yet, they have nothing near acceptable record on gender equality agenda or women human rights or any pretension to democracy! But the US continues to embrace them and do business with them. The emphasis being on “doing business” strange-bedfellows we will be right in describing these sorts of expediencies, shortsighted policies, US with Arabia Kuwait?

On the other hand, it is public knowledge or an open secret, the fact the US and Iran and North Korea have had unending debate and verbal diplomatic scuffle over right to nuclear energy and weapons which are apparently sought, pursued and being attained by Iran and North Korea, while the US remain stridently opposed to possession of nuclear capability by both Iran and North Korea.

It wondered aloud therefore, whether Mrs. Clinton is employing and co-opting women issues as a tool of pressure against the usual ‘suspects’? In essence, women issues and gender equality agenda, as lofty and commendable as they are, have become another weapon in the arsenals of pressures by the US against nations the US consider unfriendly and in pursuit of policies to which the US is vehemently opposed and wishes to upturn, subvert and defeat? Is Mrs. Clinton mixing gender equality agenda with current US foreign policy which target hostile actions directed at Iran and North Korea?

We may not compare “regime-change” to “gender equality agenda” but, one wonders why women issues in say, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe, receives more attention or singular attention, in comparison to the equally abysmal and dismal plights and predicaments of womenfolk in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait, just to name a few. Is the lot of women in Vietnam actually better than those of North Korean counterpart? Are the conditions and lives of women in Pakistan much better than the women neighbor counterparts in Afghanistan and China? I think not! Mrs. Clinton is acting with one hand, and I, in turn, must clap for her with one hand; and clearly, such will be ineffective on her part and mine, acts or claps with both hands are more effective, human.

Battles against gender inequalities and injustices must be engaged in by all and with both hands in view of the fact that gender inequalities, injustices and disparities occurs worldwide 24/7 hours-days and 365 366 days of the year. Ad-hoc, knee jerk and episodic or selective application of the rules will not do!

I take the view that the plights, predicaments and conditions of women worldwide are not acceptable and should and must change. There should be honest and universal standard, albeit, with minor variations in view of some peculiar local circumstances. The activism, the advocacy and vigorous pursuit of human rights for women, should not be beclouded by the very narrow and parochial expediencies of particular nations, in denigration to the interests of other nations, and for that matter, the very human rights for women which should be the front and center of gender equality agenda campaigns. The continuing precarious conditions of women worldwide, which is lopsided in comparison with the conditions of men worldwide, must be frontally addressed employing holistic approach and universal or global standard in defining and solving challenges which women worldwide still face.

Please Google other Gender Equality Agenda Essays by the same author are as follows:

1. What Is True Democracy In The World With Women Excluded?
July 2003

2. Infertility Is Always Women’s Fault?
November 30 2004

3. Gender Equality Agenda & Obasanjo’s Presidency
May 02 2006

4. Women Public Toilets and Gender Equality Agenda
August 2008

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