Tag Archives: People

10 Examples of Gender Inequality Around the World

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Originally posted 05/30/2013 By Molly Edmonds

1: Education Attainment

Of the children that aren’t in school right now, the majority of them are girls. Women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults. When it comes to education, girls worldwide get the short end of the stick. Girls may be kept out of school to help with household chores, they may be pulled from school if their father deems it’s time for them to marry, or there may only be enough money to educate one child from the family — and the boy assumes the responsibility.

This gap in educational attainment becomes particularly maddening when you consider the numerous studies that have been done which show that educating girls is a key factor in eliminating poverty and aiding development. Girls who complete school are less likely to marry young, more likely to have smaller families and exhibit better health outcomes in relation to maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS. These women also go on to earn higher salaries, which they then invest in their own families, thus ensuring that future generations of girls get to go on to school. Indeed, it’s addressing the inequalities in education that may solve many of the other problems on this list.

2: Political Participation
Analysts often posit that many of the issues on this list could be solved if women had higher levels of political participation. Despite making up half the global population, women hold only 15.6 percent of elected parliamentary seats in the world. They’re missing from all levels of government — local, regional and national. Why is it important that women take part in politics? A study that examined women in leadership in Bolivia, Cameroon and Malaysia found that when women could take part in shaping spending priorities, they were more likely to invest in family and community resources, health, education and the eradication of poverty than the men, who were more likely to invest in the military. Some countries have experimented with quota systems to increase female participation, though these systems are often criticized for getting women involved simply because they are women, as opposed to their qualifications.

3: Freedom to Marry and Divorce

In the United States, love (and the lack of it) is a subject for romantic comedies and conversation over cocktails. In other countries, love may not enter the discussion at all when it comes to marriage. In many countries, young girls are forced to marry men two or three times their age. According to UNICEF, more than one-third of women aged 20 to 24 were married before they turned 18, which is considered the minimum legal age of marriage in most countries. Child brides give birth at early ages, which increases the chance of complications in childbirth and the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.

When a woman wants out of a loveless marriage, her options are limited in many countries. In some places, courts automatically grant custody of children to the husband, and women often have no chance of receiving any measure of financial support. In other places, such as Egypt, women don’t even have access to a court. While men are allowed a divorce after an oral renunciation registered with the court, women face years of obstacles to get in front of a judge. For this reason, many women around the world are trapped in abusive marriages.

4: Access to Health Care

In many countries, a pregnant woman in labor can head to any hospital, confident that she will receive assistance in delivery. That seems like a luxury to women in developing countries, however. According to the World Health Organization, one woman dies in childbirth every minute of every day. That’s more than 500,000 deaths every year, many of which could have been prevented if the woman had been allowed to leave her home to receive treatment, or if she’d had a skilled attendant by her side. Childbirth is but one example of how women receive unequal access to health care services. Another example is the growing number of women infected with HIV/AIDS. For many years, men comprised the bulk of new infections, but in Sub-Saharan Africa, women now form half of the infected persons. One reason for this growth may be laws that force women to stay married, even when their husbands are adulterous and engaging in extramarital sexual activity that could bring the virus into the marriage.

5: Feminization of Poverty

As we mentioned on the previous page, women in some countries have no right to own the land on which they live or work. Not only can such a state trap women in abusive marriages, it also contributes to a phenomenon that economists have deemed the “feminization of poverty.” More than 1.5 billion people in the world live on less than one dollar a day, and the majority of those people are women. The United Nations often cites the statistic that 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

Women can be left destitute if they’re denied access to land, as we discussed on the previous page, but inability to claim land also perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Let’s consider the case of a woman who is essentially managing a farm due to an absentee husband. Land is a major factor for securing credit from financial associations or co-ops, which means that a woman can’t apply for loans that would allow her family to expand its business. Without financial support, the woman can’t upgrade her equipment, expand her production or keep up with competing farmers. Many female entrepreneurs have been foiled and left to dwell in poverty because of restricted access to basic legal rights.

6. Restricted Land Ownership

In some countries, such as Chile and Lesotho, women lack the right to own land. All deeds must include the name of a man, be it the woman’s husband or father. If one of those men were to die, the woman has no legal claim to land that she may have lived on or worked all her life. Often, widows are left homeless because the deceased man’s family will throw them out of their homes. And some women remain in abusive marriages so that they won’t lose a place to live. Such restricted rights can be particularly frustrating in rural areas where agriculture is dominant. Women may spend their entire lives cultivating and harvesting foodstuffs for no pay, only to lack a safety net when the father or husband leaves or dies. The inability to hold land is a factor in the next item on our list.

7: Feticide and Infanticide
You’ll often hear expectant parents say that they don’t care if they have a boy or a girl, as long as the baby is healthy. In some countries, such as China and India, a male child is more valuable than a female child, and this gender bias causes parents to care very much if they have a boy or a girl. Thanks to advances in genetic testing, parents can find out if they’re having a boy or a girl, and they may elect to end a pregnancy that would yield a female child. And if the parents don’t receive advance notice, they may kill the child after its birth. As a result, the gender ratio in some countries is skewed; in India, for example, there were 927 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001. The female fetuses and infants who are killed are sometimes referred to as the world’s “missing women.”China’s one child policy may have led to many sex-selective abortions.

8: Violence

In 2008, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported that one in every three women is likely “to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime”. In both the developed and the developing world, violence against women in the form of rape, spousal abuse, child abuse or spousal killing is such routine behavior that it rarely even makes the news anymore. In conflict zones, rape of women and children is increasingly used as a weapon of war. In other countries, marital rape is condoned, and some countries have laws that require a certain number of male witnesses to testify before a court will acknowledge that a rape has occurred. Even in developed countries, women are often blamed and questioned about actions if they become the victims of rape or physical abuse, while their attackers may not face such questioning. Because of the stigma of reporting any form of abuse, we may never know the true extent of this problem.

9: Limited Mobility

Saudi Arabia provides the most extreme example of limited mobility for women: In that country, women are not allowed to drive a car or ride a bicycle on public roads. The strict Islamic law in the country prohibits women from leaving the home without a man’s permission, and if they do leave the home, they can’t drive a car. Doing so would require removal of their veils, which is forbidden, and it could potentially bring them in contact with strange men, another forbidden practice. While Saudi Arabia is the only country that prohibits women from driving a car, other countries restrict women’s overseas travels by limiting their access to passports, and even women in developed countries may complain of limited mobility. While these women may have the legal right to drive cars and ride planes, they may elect not to go out by themselves at night due to the threat of rape or attack. We’ll discuss such violence against women on the next page of this article. Women in Saudi Arabia inspect a new car. The women are allowed to own cars, but they are not allowed to drive them.

10: Professional Obstacles

Women fought for decades to take their place in the workplace alongside men, but that fight isn’t over yet. According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Census, women earn just 77 percent of what men earn for the same amount of work. In addition to this gender wage gap, women often face a glass ceiling when it comes to promotions, which is evident when you survey the lack of women in leadership positions at major companies. Women who have children often find themselves penalized for taking time off; if they’re not dismissed, they may face discrimination and outdated ideas of what a woman can accomplish if she’s pregnant or a mother. Also, jobs that are considered traditional women’s work, such as nursing and teaching, are often some of the lowest-paying fields.

Still, women in the workplace have one right that women in other countries lack — the right to leave their own homes.

THREE WIVES AND A SCORE OF CHILDREN THE AFRICAN WAY

In a culture where infant mortality is outrageously high and the average woman has fifteen children, most of whom do not survive, polygamy has been practiced to not only show a mans wealth, but also to assure the continuation of the mans family. It is also considered a strong indicator of a mans virility and need for sexual satisfaction.

Men can also accumulate wives as a result of inheritance. If a mans brother dies, he would take over the family of his brother, including his wives. These women would be distributed among the surviving brothers, based on the preferences of the men and the widows of their brother. It is also common for a man to take the youngest wife of his father upon his death, and a father will take the wife of his son upon the death of his child. This keeps the extended family together and guarantees that the children of the family are raised within the fathers family.

In the common African community, life is hard and women have long seen the advantages of having co-wives to help share the burden. This allowed a division of labor, in which there were more women to build the family home, which is considered a female responsibility, and other work. It also eased the burden of child bearing, as each wife was not carrying the burden of the family procreation alone. Few women wanted to be a lone wife in a marriage, given the multiple burdens society and tradition would require of her.

Women, also being in the position of being held responsible for the sex of their children, risked being returned to their parents for not producing children of the sex desired by their husband. Therefore, women were far more secure in a polygamous marriage where there was less attention on a single woman and the sex of her children. Being returned in disgrace to ones family not only was an embarrassment to her and her parents, but it was also a hardship as the bride price paid to her family had to be repaid.

Women are also responsible for weeding the family food garden, and due to the large size of these gardens, it was not a job for one wife. By tradition, the husband will invite friends and clan members to assist with this chore, so women do not only have help weeding their family garden, but are also obligated to help the women who help them. As this family chore is considered “womans work,” there is no thought of hiring outside labor to accomplish this task.

Despite the dependence of the wifes on each other to accomplish the burden of work and child bearing, there is always unavoidable conflict. A man showing preference for one woman over another, showing more love or favoring her children, would result in jealousies, although actual fighting is very rare. Fighting could result in the demand of the bride price being returned from the offenders family, which could be devastating to her family as the cost to them could be as much as 20 head of cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens. Because the bride price received for a young woman would enable her brothers to pay a bride price for his own wife, it could be very difficult to repay the price paid. This often results in the women finding a way to stay in the marriage without altercations.

In order to reduce conflict, the man often will rotate his nights among his wives, sleeping in each ones house in turn. When purchasing clothes, the same quality and style would be purchased for each, as would be done for their children. Unfortunately, this does not prevent the wives from instigating problems among the children.

Fortunately, this way of traditional marriage is declining, and victims of this in-fighting among the children of polygamous marriage are fewer. But although they share a father, the children always stay with their mother, in their mothers home. Fights and hatred fueled by their mothers is common. If a wife dies, her children are often taken in by the wife she was the closest to, regardless of any prior antimosity.

My father has three wives. I am the oldest child of his first wife. Unfortunately, my father developed a preference for his second wife, which resulted in preferential treatment for her and her children. My birth mother is very close with my fathers third wife, although we, her children, are closer to his second wifes children as we grew up together during a time in which our mother was away from the family.

Education, an important commodity, is also often unevenly distributed. In rare cases, when a man is wealthy enough to provide equally for all of his children, this is not an issue. But usually, the children of a favored wife are given more educational opportunities than the rest.

It is difficult to live in the polygamous family. Grievances are never forgotten, and there are deaths of parents and children resulting from poisoning and witchcraft that overshadow what could be a wonderful experience for a large family. Wives will practice witchcraft in order to eliminate the other wives and gain favor for themselves and their children. And, even worse, some children will kill their father, in order to inherit his wealth and afford more benefits for their mother and siblilings.

Wives practicing witchcraft  to eliminate one another and charm their husband to win over his heart for their to themselves and their children. Children in many occasions kill their father to assume heir of the family so they can have a big share of the family cake with their mother.

Although this form of marriage has benefits to both the men and women involved, it is often hardest on the children, who often end up the pawns of manipulative parents. Being a child of a polygamous marriage myself was difficult, and I feel the opportunities for the potential of a wonderful supportive experience was wasted through petty jealousy and unequal educations for us. I was fortunate to find a sponsor to continue my education, but many of my siblings have not been so fortunate.

Article by Peter Wadri 
Journalist

I dream of Africa

I dream of  Africa as my mind manifests  over  all its greatness that matters. I hear of stories  imagined and true; from far away empires  and palaces.Are things as they are,? Kingdoms  spread  all over domination, across deserts and thick forest lands. Mothers   telling stories under moon light Coconut  compounds.

So i asked myself, why  the infighting,? from the North to the South, from the Eastern sea shores to the western trade zones. Wars, famine and unrest, caused by  greed, selfishness and hatred.

Where are the noble men and wise women of generations past?, have your daughters gone to the hill tops to fetch water from the spring crops.?Are your young men still waging battles among their brothers? for if you trade your  resources for your gun sources; in the morning you will find  out  you have no life force.

My Africa, your lands have no men to harvest your grains crops; yet the harvest is due and  the young and old cry out  for food.So  I kept my dream of Africa alive, “pregnant with patience” until her Sons  and Daughters return and spend time close to their father and Mother, their towns kins men and women.Then tears will stop for then all Will understand that their hearts have  come to stay  and engage.

~ K. Okojie

Florida.USA

 

Women Empowered To Achieve The Impossible

PRESS RELEASE

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A NEW & TRAILBLAZING WOMEN EMPOWERMENT ORGANIZATION EMERGES AS MAJOR FORCE IN THE MARKET PLACE!

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margaret@wetati.com or

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