Living in western societies in the 21st century, creates the illusion that, universally, women have finally broken free from male oppression. Even though women’s rights have greatly changed, many people tend to forget that a large amount of women across the globe are still oppressed by men. In western societies women may still be oppressed psychologically, by themselves or men, but in many countries in the world, women are still oppressed, both, by law, and in their homes and minds.
It is mostly the developing and non-democratic countries in which women are still experiencing injustices such as prohibition from education, violence, sex trafficking, and marginalisation, leading to poverty, dependence, and emotional insecurity. These injustices put the development of women into a dangerous vicious circle, leaving little chance for themselves and their children to make a change for themselves and the society.
In Saudi Arabia, for example, women can’t drive, aren’t allowed to work where men work, and need to strive for male approval for everything they do. In Iran, the situation is not any better in that women only inherit half of the amount that men do and have to cover their heads, and in Afghanistan the literacy rate of women is only one third of that of men.
According to UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women), women do two-third of the world’s work and only get 5% of the income. In addition to this it is obvious that only a small number of women represent democratic assemblies, being systematically excluded from international diplomacy and peace discussion in many developing countries such as Somalia. Women’s rights may be perpetuated in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but looking at women’s rights and power on a global level, clearly shows that in terms of global power, women can still be seen second class citizens.
The most important aspect of women’s rights is that those countries in which women are oppressed the most are the ones which are non-democratic, and are divided by fundamentalism and chaos. The injustices experienced by women are thus of utmost importance in an economic and geopolitical sense. In many developing countries, both, nationalistic and religious forces want to control women so that religious and ethnic purity can be sustained. This is especially dangerous for children brought up in these families since they are being taught the values of these forces and are thus very likely to continue the pattern.
The ever-increasing global governance we live in has a large impact on developing countries in terms of structural adjustment policies. It is this structural adjustment that neglects human rights and needs, and especially those of women because they have to make up for the services that are lost to families and communities. It is thus important to recognise that we need to look at the issue of women’s rights on a global level, since the oppression of women is greatly caused by destructive global governance. In order for oppressed women to be able to break free, we have to bring women’s experiences and expertise on a global level. In all the countries where it is possible, women should be encouraged to take part in democratic assemblies and be part of peace-making processes, in order to reduce structural adjustment.
A big problem is that the U.N. is represented largely by men, making it unable to create a global governance that respects women’s rights. Women’s experiences, and perspectives are often left out of policy contemplation, but since women represent half of the population, they are such an important global force to create fairer global governance and more human future.
This mean’s that the amount of power that women have will have a great impact on governance and its policies. In societies where women have equal power, they can become part in democratic seats and help implementing policies to improve women’s rights in developing countries, and this in turn will lead to women in developing countries gaining more power and being able to take part in politics, achieving further positive changes in the world.
Since women’s rights are a global problem, made worse by the current global governance, we need to recognise that it can only be solved globally. Oppressed women in developing and non-democratic countries will not be able to empower themselves since they are trapped in a vicious circle caused by nationalistic and religious forces. This means that we need to come together and co-operate, seeing through the eyes of these women. As a global grassroots co-operation, Simpol strongly encourages women’s power, and could change the position of many women in the world. Once Simpol policies are implemented globally, global governance would be put back into the hand of politicians and the people, reducing global problems such as economic crisis and social injustice. Increasing stability in developing countries will in turn give increasing power to women since they would no longer be at the receiving end of structural adjustment.
Women need to realise how big their potential is to have an impact on politics. If women in western societies were encouraged, or chose for themselves, to take part in politics, and if women in oppressed countries were finally to be freed and also took part in politics, imagine how powerful this would be. The world would be governed in a fair way, half by women, half by men, the way the population is scaled.