by Anup Shah
Women’s rights around the world are an important indicator to understand global well-being.
A major global women’s rights treaty was ratified by the majority of the world’s nations a few decades ago.
Yet, despite many successes in empowering women, numerous issues still exist in all areas of life, ranging fromthe cultural, political to the economic. For example, women often work more than men, yet are paid less; gender discrimination affects girls and women throughout their lifetime; and women and girls are often are the ones that suffer the most poverty.
Many may think that women’s rights are only an issue in countries where religion is law, such as many Muslim countries. Or even worse, some maythink this is no longer an issue at all. But reading this report about the United Nation’s Women’s Treaty and how an increasing number of countries are lodging reservations, will show otherwise.
Gender equality furthers the cause of child survival and development for all of society, so the importance of women’s rights and gender equality should not be underestimated.
Progress: It isn’t easy tochange tradition overnight. However, small examples of successes include:
* The gains made in South Africa
* Childhood concerns in Latin America
* Poor women gaining greater access to savings and credit mechanisms worldwide, due to microcredit.
* A dwindling number of countries that do not allow women to vote including Bhutan (one vote per house), Lebanon (partial), Brunei (no-one canvote), Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (expected in 2010), and the Vatican City.
* Women gaining more positions in parliament throughout Africa. In many cases African countries have more women in parliament than some western ones.
* A protocol to protect women’s rights in Africa that came into effect in 2005(though many nations still need to sign up).
* An almost universalratification of the women’s rights treaty, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
Women Work More Than Men But Are Paid Less
The informal slogan of the Decade of Women became “Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production.”
— Richard H. Robbins, Global Problems and the Cultureof Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p. 354
Women cultivate, plough, and harvest more than half of all the food in the world.
According to Inter Press Service, “On a global scale, women cultivate more than half of all the food that is grown. In sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, they produce up to 80 percent of basic foodstuffs. In Asia, they account for around 50 percent of foodproduction. In Latin America, they are mainly engaged in subsistence farming, horticulture, poultry and raising small livestock.”
Yet women often get little recognition for that. In fact, many go unpaid. It is very difficult for these women to get the financial resources required to buy equipment etc, as many societies still do not accept, or realize, that there is a change in the “traditional” roles.-------------------------------------------------
UNICEF’s 2007 report on state of the world’s children focused on the discrimination and disempowerment women face throughout their lives and how that impacts children’s lives. In regards to work and pay, they noted the following:
Estimated earnings for women are substantially lower than for men |Estimated Earnings per year (in 1000s of % of men’s earnings US dollars at 2003 prices) |
| | |
Industrialized nations | 21
37 | 57% |
CEE/CIS | 4.6
8 | 59% |
Latin American and
Carribean | 4
10 | 40% |
East Asia and Pacific | 4
6.5 | 62% |
Middle East and North
Africa | 2
7 | 28% |
South Asia | 1