International Fellowship program for women’s in the field of Health
Job Description: The purpose of this program is to provide training for clinical OB/GYN physicians in global women’s health research and service provision. We will educate future leaders in the global health community who will develop educational initiatives, improve clinical services, and promote research in global women’s reproductive health. The program will complement existing clinical skills in Obstetrics and Gynecology with public health course work, international field experience, and mentorship. Fellows will be expected to utilize collaborations within the UIC community (School of Public Health, School of Nursing, Department of Anthropology) and develop relationships with international governmental and non-governmental organizations in order to perform effective global health work. The program will be a platform to build strong relationships in locations and situations that lack the infrastructure and/or organization to address reproductive health issues. There are limited opportunities for advanced training of this nature. Given the growing need for physician leadership in the international women’s health community, this program will provide experience, leadership, and opportunities in global women’s health research and clinical care.
The program strives to develop initiatives in women’s reproductive health, and provides mentorship and leadership opportunities to effectively administer such programs.
1. Comprehensive application of clinical reproductive health concepts and skills in global health.
2. Build a solid fund of knowledge about global reproductive health issues and the public health infrastructure around the world.
3. Understand and apply the concepts of sustainability and capacity building in global women’s health.
4. Develop the ability to perform a needs assessment of reproductive health care systems and identify pertinent health issues.
5. Develop an education and/or research project to address a reproductive health issues for a specific population.
6. Conduct clinical and field research based on solid scientific methods.
7. Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and quality of global reproductive health programs.
8. Establish network and skills for educational exchange, research, and funding.
9. Develop administrative skills to organize and implement international reproductive health programs abroad and integrate them into existing health systems.
The fellow will be given the opportunity to create a research program that matches her/his professional goals. Potential sites and topics include:
a. Nigeria, Ghana, India. collaborate with Stacie Geller, Maternal Health
b. Kenya, collaborate with Robert Bailey (school of public health), HIV/STI
c. Rural India, collaborate with Bryna Harwood, Family Planning
d. Tanzania, collaborate with Dr Betsy Abrams, Dept of Anthropology
e. Humanitarian aid and relief work, i.e. UIC efforts in Haiti
f. Medical mission trips, i.e. Bolivia
g. NGO, program directorships
h. Collaborative efforts with other fellowship programs
i. Self-directed programs in health education, health promotion, public health, medical education, etc.
Details on Fellowship structure
Training in the fellowship will allow the fellow to tailor their experience based on individual interest while providing a foundation for work in global women’s health. Areas of focus may include capacity building, educational programs, program implementation, outcomes research, and international public health. Fellows will meet with mentors every two weeks at the initial stages of the fellowship, and monthly and as-needed after the first 4 months.
Duration of fellowship
The fellowship is a two year program which incorporates the public health coursework, clinical obstetrics and gynecology responsibilities, and global health field work/research. A one year fellowship is possible for those that have already received their MPH degree at the discretion of the fellowship directors.
Interested candidates must be residency trained, board eligible/board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Candidates should have a strong desire to contribute to the field of international health.
Deadline for applications September 15, 2010. To apply, please send* a letter of interest (please include research interests, why you are applying for the fellowship, what you hope to gain from the fellowship, experience with global health/diverse patient populations, etc.), a brief personal statement, and a curriculum vitae to:
Sherry Nordstrom MD or Tracy Irwin, MD, MPH
Directors, Global Women’s Health Fellowship
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
820 S. Wood St. M/C 808
Chicago, IL 60612
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In early June 2005, upon opening my postbox for my Frascati, Italy apartment, a glossy, elegantly-designed brochure fell to the floor, revealing pink pictures of mothers and babies and sterile pictures of test-tubes. The brochure was a suspiciously-crafted campaign piece from the Committee of Science and Life, urging me not to vote in the upcoming Italian Referendum on Law 40, which was passed in 2004. Absent, however, were the voting dates and a clear explanation of the issues, upon which to vote. This was not an ordinary analog-spam that fell out of my postbox. Instead, what I held in my hands, was a graphic example of a collusion of the largest religious, philosophical and social structures in human history—church, politics, and culture—that surround humans' increasing power over nature.
In 2004 as a 'gift' to the Vatican, Berlusconi's coalition in the Parliament passed a series of assisted reproductive technology (ART) laws that are widely considered to be the most restrictive in the western countries. The law restricts assisted reproductive technologies to heterosexual couples who live together and are of childbearing age—therefore excluding single women—and bans the use of donated sperm or eggs, prohibits prenatal screening for abnormalities and prohibits doctors from freezing embryos or using them for scientific research. These laws passed quietly, too quietly, and, in an angry backlash, a group of people gathered the necessary half-million signatures in order to petition for a Referendum to overturn these laws. Such a petition must be approved by a constitutional court. The court rejected the petition “in whole”, but instead accepted a Referendum “in part” to overturn the most controversial parts of the ART laws. The Referendum then became a series of questions:
Do you vote Yes (to overturn) or No (to keep) the following laws:
The four laws were voted upon by the Italian citizens on June 12-13, 2005. In a shockingly low 25% turnout, and because the turnout didn't reach the necessary 50% voting-population minimum to be valid, the Referendum was extinguished. In the mother and family-oriented Italian culture, how could a set of draconian laws that marginalizes women and family choices, and was delivered by an extremely unpopular prime minister, be extinguished so easily? Simple, enter non-democratic governmental politics urging the citizens not to vote, and the richest per-capita country in the world, which funded the Committee of Science and Life, that is, the Vatican. Upon watching the talk-show discussions on Italian television afterwards, I came to the conclusion that the Vatican played with some very old human fears: the fear of technology, the fear of losing our human-ness, and the fear of the future.
Katherine Hayles, in her article: 'Wrestling with Transhumanism',1 astutely encapsulates these fears to focus her criticism on the area of reproduction, which she further refines as: reproduction of individuals through children, reproduction of the species through technology as well as biology, and reproduction of psychological, philosophical, social and economic institutions that facilitate and/or threaten the continued existence of humans as a species. However, as a literary scholar, she chose the context in which to criticize transhumanist reproductive views to be science fiction and speculative fiction, jointly signified by SF. Isn't such a SF timeline too distant and too speculative to be relevant to our daily lives? Indeed, transhumanist reproductive ideas are relevant now, as graphically illustrated by my glossy, pink brochure, that I held in my hands on that day in early June 2005. Moreover, transhumanists grapple with these issues in the socioeconomic climate of today, suggesting courageous solutions to what might normally be considered as insurmountable human limitations. Let's start with a look at the biological features of half of our human species.
A Woman's Reproductive Lifetime
An unborn human baby girl has already produced all of the oocytes, or unmature egg cells, that she will produce in her lifetime.2 Her ovaries, at the time between 16 and 20 weeks of her mother's pregnancy, contain 6 to 7 million ooctyes, but, by the time she is born, one-sixth of those will remain. Up to puberty, more oocytes will waste away, so that, in about 12 years, she will have
300,000 oocytes. However only a small percentage, about 400, will mature into eggs to be viable for reproduction in her entire lifetime. Until an egg is released, it remains dormant in its follicle-suspended state in the middle of cell division, and is thus one of the longest-lived cells in the human body. A dormant egg cannot perform the usual cellular repair processes, however, so damage increases as a woman ages. A chromosomal or genetic abnormality is thus more likely when a woman conceives a baby later in life. With a human girl's likely biology, her best time for reproduction is the twenty years between later puberty (say age 15) and age 35. Many women's reproductive years decline starting in their late-20s.
What are her choices for her future given those twenty years? Between age 15 and 35, she must build her career to a professional level, manage her time so that she can devote some of that to a social life, meet some interesting people, develop a partnership with one (or some), and hope that life smiles in such a way and that she gains enough wisdom so that not too many of her mistakes delay any of these pathways. Then, by the time she is in her early to middle 30s, she can be starting her family.
How many women do you know, who have established their professional careers by their early 30s? Educated women, like educated men, need time for that. In some fields, it is possible to be at a professional level by one's early 30s, however, if she chooses a career in a technical or scientific field, then she will have a much poorer chance to meet these goals, as those career endeavors, if one is to be successful, leave less time for a social life. So immediately there is a pressure to veer away from those time-consuming careers in the technological and scientific fields, towards more family-friendly environments.
Given that science and technology are the vehicles of human progress, and given that half of the human species is a significant number, our western societies have a pressing issue in the reproductive sciences, if our species is to advance with our full human resources. Presently for a woman to modify her biological reproductive capabilities, she has the following choices:
Birth Control Pills were a major societal breakthrough, allowing women to free themselves from their monthly biological imperative and begin to choose a life to include a career. After more than half a century from its introduction into western societies, it's considered for women a respectable modification of her biological reproductive functions.
IVF technology provides a remarkable method to conceive a human life outside of the womb. In use for more than twenty years, it was the first effective infertility treatment and gives women and couples a means to reproduce outside of societal norms and women's reproductive ages. Well over 3 million children worldwide have been conceived by IVF since 1978. Moreover, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is boosting the genetic lottery for genetic defects.3 What is less known, however, are that the methods are expensive and painful, the side effects are 1) the large uncertainty and lack of science associated with what is a viable embryo for implantation, 2) a propensity in the US to transfer too many embryos which leads to multiple pregnancies with the associated risks and major family life changes, 3) a lack of discussion by the fertility doctors to tell the patient of the health risks involved (see ovarian hyperstimulation, for example), and a glut of hundreds of thousands of embryos in cryopreservation due to the US government's ban on embryo research, and due to the uncertainty and moral confusion by their owners for how to dispense with them.4, 5 There are some hopeful signs for mitigating these risks, however. With the incoming US presidency, the ban on embryo research may be soon lifted6. therefore clearing the way to more embryonic scientific research and finding realistic uses for the embryos that are currently in cryopreservation and providing better science for determining the most likely embryos for implantation.
Egg freezing is a viable technology since 2002,7 however the societal progress for acceptance is extremely slow. Even though the egg extraction portion of egg freezing has been in practice in IVF for decades, egg freezing is considered by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, as late as late-2007, to still be an experimental procedure,8 despite the fact that vitrification, the process in which water is drawn out and anti-freeze chemicals added, is improving success rates to the same level as normal IVF treatment. Many doctors will freeze eggs for cancer patients, but will not offer the option to young, fertile women. Their perspective is that it is unethical to normalize a woman's waiting to bear children, and that the only interests served for such a service are unforgiving work cultures9 or aging mothers who've consciously chosen to have children later in life, with or without a partner. The doctors, therefore, don't view it as one of an array of choices that women and their partners would like to have in viewing their long-term lives. Costs for a young woman undergoing such a procedure is also prohibitive (USD
10 000) at that early point in her career life.
However, out of the three reproductive technologies listed here, egg freezing technology provides the most courageous and comprehensive assistance to women and has the potential to change society the most. Consider these points:
This leads to the idea of what support for a child and the family unit means. The coupling-for-family-support idea becomes more optional, if the woman does not depend on her partner's support for raising their child; she can better support herself/themselves. The couple might still do it because they want to, but they now both have more choices.
The best approach to inject this technology into existing societies would likely involve situations where young women work in hazardous occupations that might adversely affect her reproductive abilities, for example, jobs in the chemical industry or work in the military. Under such conditions, the employer has the responsibility to provide insurance for her, giving a natural reason for applying the egg freezing technology. Once the technology is practiced in a few industries, its acceptance (and market demand) will push it to others.
The large potential of this egg freezing technology to change our lives for the better, fits perfectly well with the agenda and ideas of today's transhumanist. In this reproductive arena, transhumanist ideas are meeting head-on and can provide viable solutions for, the reproduction of individuals through children, the reproduction of the species through technology as well as biology, and reproduction of psychological, philosophical, social and economic institutions that facilitate and/or threaten the continued existence of humans as a species. No far future timelines and little speculation are needed.
Support for these ideas is growing from quarters other than the transhumanists, as well. Carl Djerassi, one of the inventors of The Pill, believes that advances in egg freezing techniques would be greatly beneficial to the human race:
There are so many unwanted children in the world. This would be a way of helping to reduce the number of unwanted children. Every child born to a woman who has taken a conscious decision to have a child at that time would be wanted and loved and properly cared for. Is there not something to be said for wisdom, affection and maturity? Why shouldn't a woman have a child when she is older if the science is there to help her? Nowadays it is not thought peculiar if a man in his 50s or 60s has a child. So should it be different for a woman?12
Amnesty International goes on to breakdown those rights as the right to get access to sexual and reproductive health care, autonomy in making decisions over one's sexual and reproductive choices, this is a critical component of beings exercising freedom of choice. This essay discusses Zimbabwe's laws, policies and social stance in relation to sexual and reproductive rights and unpacks how they impact on human rights. The above mentioned aspects of sexual and reproductive health rights and other ephemeral sexual rights form the core focus of this paper. The banning of contrace.2. My Attitude on Female Health & Reproductive Rights
I felt especially strongly about the topics we read about and discussed dealing with female health and reproductive rights. My health and reproductive rights are extremely important to me and I feel like this topic was the most controversial in my own point of view. This issue influenced me and impacted my attitudes towards the female vs. male genders in ways I never thought possible.The topic of reproductive rights greatly influenced me, considering that I plan on having children after college. Women are being looked at in a much more positive light, and not being thrown out into the.3. My Attitude on Female Health & Reproductive Rights
I felt especially strongly about the topics we read about and discussed dealing with female health and reproductive rights. My health and reproductive rights are extremely important to me and I feel like this topic was the most controversial in my own point of view. This issue influenced me and impacted my attitudes towards the female vs. male genders in ways I never thought possible.The topic of reproductive rights greatly influenced me, considering that I plan on having children after college. Women are being looked at in a much more positive light, and not being thrown out into the.4. The Tulmultuous History of Women's Rights
Even though women have argued intensely to attain their privileges, they continue to labor for workplace equality, reproductive rights, and to overcome religious and cultural barriers. The conflict for women's rights persisted for many decades, even centuries. Due to the fact that reproductive rights are often influenced by religion and culture, it has experienced a more troubled record than suffrage or even the movement itself (Introduction 16). Furthermore, "recent attempts by some lawmakers and religious organizations to limit women's access to contraception and reprod.5. SC Representative Jim DeMint
The four special interest groups I have chosen to discuss are: the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the Family Research Council (FRC) (who both hold conservative views), the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (who hold more liberal viewpoints). Due to their strong Christian views they will find it hard to build support for their ideals outside of the "Bible BeltaE states, so they are willing to overlook some small issue disagreements in order to keep a republican in office.The National Abortion Reproducti.6. SC Representative Jim DeMint
The four special interest groups I have chosen to discuss are: the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the Family Research Council (FRC) (who both hold conservative views), the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (who hold more liberal viewpoints). Due to their strong Christian views they will find it hard to build support for their ideals outside of the "Bible BeltaE states, so they are willing to overlook some small issue disagreements in order to keep a republican in office.The National Abortion Reproducti.7. Men's Reproductive Rights
The first reason why fathers should have more reproductive rights is because it is unjust for a man to pay child support when he has no say over whether or not to keep the child. The court also agreed that Shane is to have no visiting rights and must pay the KDSRS the $7,000 dollars owing from aiding the child's mother through her court journey as well as monthly allowances for the child. In a web interview, Men Rights Activist Ed Montini had this to say about Olivas' case; "Under no circumstances should the victim of any crime be forced to pay the person who perpetrated the.8. Reproductive technology
CONTEMPORARY GYNECOLOGY AND OBSTETRICS DECONSTRUCTIONThroughout history, women have been struggling for their rights and for their freedom. Women had to fights for their rights such as voting, education, property, humanity and for a status in the human society. or are we still fighting for our rights. Although the degree to which women are subordinated varies greatly, there is no country in the world today that women have equal rights to men or the same access to power and resources. He talks about how women should use reproductive health programs(Beckmann, pages 107).9. Abortion: A Womans Right To Reproductive Freedom
Abortion:A woman"s Right to Reproductive Freedom"One of the things that makes humans different from other animals is that we are not completely governed by instincts, but have the freedom to make choicesaE (CCC 9). Women are being denied their constitutional rights. When a pro-choice activist supports abortion they are supporting the individual rights attributed to women. Not significantly whether abortion is a good idea or not, but that if it was outlawed it would limit the rights of women. Planned Parent Hood issued a warning that they would monitor president Bush"s agenda.10. whatch out
I support many of the issues that are considered to be women"s issues within our culture; reproductive rights, freedom of sexuality, and equality within the workplace. Being pro-choice, I am a strong supporter of reproductive rights.11. right to choose
This decision preserved not only a woman"s reproductive rights, but also held up the principles of the first, ninth, and fourteenth amendments. Based upon my personal experience and ability to refute opposing views, I believe every woman, no matter what race, marital status, or age, has the right to her own reproductive self-determination and privacy of the decisions she makes.Reproductive freedomaE"the fundamental right of every individual to decide freely and responsibly when and whether to have a childaE"is a reaffirmation of the principle of individual liberty cherished by most people wor.12. Equal Rights Amendment
We have lived under the United States Constitution for more than 200 years and women still struggle for equal rights. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced in 1923 by Alice Paul, three years after women won the right to vote, but it never passed congress. ERA works to ensure that employees are aware of legal protections from discrimination based on pregnancy and their rights to family and medical leave. The CEA includes the same principles of women rights, and it also includes reproductive rights and lesbian and gay rights as well. In conclusion, with time people become.13. Abortion
The most important part of reproductive rights is the principle that a woman has the right to decide whether and when to have a child. Governments are bound to respect this basic human right by ensuring that women have access to the full range of quality reproductive health services, including abortion. 62% of the world"s people live in the 64 countries where induced abortion is permitted for a wide range of reasons or without restriction as to the reason. With this pill avaliable for many, it is impossible to calculate how many abortions take place each year.Population growth or decli.14. Planned Parenthood Federation of America
In doing away with these beliefs, she, in turn, established the principles that a woman"s right to control her body is the foundation of her human rights, and that women are entitled to sexual pleasure and fulfillment just as men are. This was a model which later propelled the civil rights, womens, and AIDS-action movements. They preach that the right to sexual and reproductive self-determination is non-coercive, non-exploitive, and responsible. They will, in doing so, ensure access to reproductive and sexual health care for all. They work with local organizations to bring.15. Ethics Of Reproductive Technologies
With all these new forms of reproductive technologies growing highly popular among infertile couples, it is apparent that the "traditionalaE notion of science developing with a respect for human dignity and fundamental human rights is questionable. From the first moment of one"s existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person. Many children are born of IVF every year, and they are just like any other human being, holding the same rights as any other naturally born person. Surrogacy and Baby MWith the development of reproductive technology, childle.16. Civil Rights: Brown V. Board of Ed to failure of ERA
Since the Civil War, much of the concern over civil rights in the United States has focused on efforts to extend these rights fully to African Americans. Civil rights organizations began to spread word to other campuses. Sit-ins continued in some areas even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had declared segregation at lunch counters unlawful. It brought about new support for the Civil Rights Movement in America and in the world. Civil Rights organization involved included CORE and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).17. Goal Setting Theory
Those who oppose the abortion rights and call themselves pro-life claim the abortion as a criminal act. Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League says: "We never spend time on the moral responsibility in childbearingaE (Gorden). Today the abortion issue has become a conflict over whether the unborn should have the same rights as the born, or whether a woman"s rights to control her life and body include the right to end the unwanted pregnancy.18. Abortion
Those who oppose the abortion rights and call themselves pro-life claim the abortion as a criminal act. Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League says: "We never spend time on the moral responsibility in childbearingaE (Gorden). Today the abortion issue has become a conflict over whether the unborn should have the same rights as the born, or whether a woman"s rights to control her life and body include the right to end the unwanted pregnancy.19. Should The Surrogate Motherhood Arrangement Be Legalized??
IntroductionNowadays, the reproductive technologies have been advanced. She is called gestational surrogate motherThe new reproductive technologies raise complicated issues, including both law and morality. Our community and social structure guarantee these inalienable rights. People have rights to do anything with their bodies. But I think that the reproductive technology, which does not have the third party involvement, is desirable.20. Planned Parenthood Services
Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio is known as the leading reproductive health care provider, educator and advocate for Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky communities. The seven health centers provide a wide range of reproductive health care services to many men and women of all races and cultures without discrimination. Their mission is to provide access to high quality health care and education that empowers all people to make informed private decisions about their reproductive lives and sexual health. PPSWO believes their patients have CHOICES, RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES.21. Womens rights
This essay will be portraying the women's rights movement throughout history. In 1928, the Inter-American Commission of Women was created specifically fight for the civil and political rights of women. Then in the '30's doctors warned this 'high stress' could damage the reproductive system. Over the years, women have become involved in politics; they have been given the rights to vote. Hopefully, women's rights will continue to improve, but will they ever be treated as equals with men.22. Abortion - A Social Necessity
This paper reviews academic articles to demonstrate and compile the need for abortion as a social necessity to express women's right to control the reproductively and ensure their safety. These rights and freedoms relates to not only religion, politics, but also their everyday personal lives. That is to say; Abortion has become a social necessity to ensure the rights and freedom of the United States citizens. This study highlights the pressing need for an organized program for reproductive health education especially for the adolescents and unmarried who were most affected b.23. Ahead of Her Time
Her writing, A Vindication of Rights of Men (1790) is one of the most important documents in the history of women's rights. Wollstonecraft's views were primarily concerned with the individual woman and about rights. It connected women's rights directly to that powerful American symbol of liberty. She drafted an Equal Rights Amendment for the United States Constitution. To name a few:Women's reproductive rights--Whether or not women can terminate pregnancies is stillcontroversial twenty-five years after the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v.24. The Risksy Side of Abortion
He framed it as a human rights issue, but it is probable that he was acting more to address the health issues caused by illegal abortions performed under unsanitary and unsafe conditions during the havoc of the revolution and civil wars. It is known that abortion can damage a woman's reproductive health. The immediate consequence of abortion could be the risk of damage to a woman's reproductive organs and her future ability to have children. Abortion should be taken under strict governmental control, because it carries risk to a mother's reproductive health and her life.25. Suffrage
Reproductive Rights was another rights that didn"t even have a control to their reproductive decisions. Women didn"t have the right to control their reproductive choices. Margarat Singer was the women who decided to help women control their reproductive right, she demanded legal contraceptives. It turned womens rights into doctor rights. It was seen as a good thing because women can control their reproductive rights, although it was bad because women were still being controlled by male doctors.Under Republicanism, married women did had some sort of Property Rights under the Proper.
Women’s rights around the world is 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 from the 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.
Reading this report about the United Nation’s Women’s Treaty and how a variety of countries have lodged reservations to various parts of it shows we still have a long way to go to achieve universal gender equality.
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.
This article explores these issues further.
This web page has the following sub-sections:Progress
It isn’t easy to change tradition overnight. However, a small example of successes include:
Ban Ki-moon also described the treaty as “one of the most successful human rights treaties ever”, according to IPS.Lack of Progress
Thirty years after the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), many girls and women still do not have equal opportunities to realize rights recognized by law. In many countries, women are not entitled to own property or inherit land. Social exclusion, “honor” killings, female genital mutilation, trafficking, restricted mobility and early marriage among others, deny the right to health to women and girls and increase illness and death throughout the life-course.
We will not see sustainable progress unless we fix failures in health systems and society so that girls and women enjoy equal access to health information and services, education, employment and political positions.
— Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization, Equal rights and opportunities for women and girls essential for better health. International Women’s Day, March 8, 2010
You would think that as time goes on, there would be more equality between men and women. Unfortunately, trends are moving in the other direction .
Inter Press Service notes that progress is mixed:
When it comes to female education rates, progress has been made around the world, and in many countries girls and young women have outnumbered and outperformed boys and men at all levels of schooling for decades. Nevertheless, these advances have yet to translate into greater equity in employment, politics and social relations.
A report from Human Rights Watch also describes how women’s rights have not been observed in some countries as much as expected ; in some places claims are made that women’s rights will be respected more, yet policies are sometimes not changed enough—or at all—thus still undermining the rights of women.
In some patriarchal societies, religion or tradition can be used as a barrier for equal rights. For example, as Inter Press Service reported, the Bangladesh government tried to hide behind laws to deny women equal rights. In Pakistan for example, honor killings directed at women have been carried for even the slightest reasons.
As Amnesty International also points out, “Governments are not living up to their promises under the Women’s Convention to protect women from discrimination and violence such as rape and female genital mutilation.” There are many governments who have also not ratified the Convention, including the U.S. Many countries that have ratified it do so with many reservations.
Despite the almost universal ratification of the Convention (second only to the Convention on the Rights of the Child), a number of countries have still not signed or ratified it. The handful of remaining countries are: USA (signed, but not ratified), Iran, Qatar, Cook Islands (a Non-member state of the United Nations), Nauru, Palau, Tonga, Somalia, and Sudan.
To see the US on this list may seem surprising to most, and Human Rights Watch is critical of the delay in getting a ratification, noting that this treaty has been in limbo in the U.S. Senate for decades . It was sent it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a vote in 1980. The first hearing on it was 10 years later. After a vote mostly in favor for it by the Foreign Relations Committee in 1994, some conservative senators blocked a US Senate vote on it. In 2002 the Foreign Relations Committee again voted that the treaty should be ratified, but the 107th Congress ended, so it requires a vote again in favor of sending the treaty to the full Senate for ratification!
Some opponents of the treaty have raised fears that it would undermine US law, but Amnesty International USA shows that such fears of the treaty are based on myths .
The US of course has a decent record when it comes to women’s rights, so this may not seem a concern immediately. However, as Amnesty International USA further argues not only would ratification for the US be straight forward (for US laws in this area are already consistent with the CEDAW treaty), but it would also help to increase their credibility when raising these issues worldwide .
(There are different types of problems all over the world that women face, from the wealthiest countries to the poorest, and it isn’t the scope or ability of this site to be able to document them all here, but just provide some examples. Links to other sites on this page document more thoroughly the actual instances, cases and situations around the world.)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 Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p. 354
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 food production. 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 US dollars at 2003 prices)
Percentage of men’s earnings
Estimated earnings are defined as gross domestic product per capita (measured in US dollars at 2003 prices adjusted for purchasing power parity) adjusted for wage disparities between men and women. Some numbers rounded for display purposes.
Reasons for such disparity include the fact that women are generally underpaid and because they often perform low-status jobs, compared to men. UNICEF notes that the data isn’t always perfect, and that generalizations such as the above can hide wider fluctuations. “In Brazil, for example, women under the age of 25 earn a higher average hourly wage than their male counterparts.” (p.39)
UNICEF’s main summary of equality in employment (chapter 3) included the following points:
For many women, unpaid work in and for the household takes up the majority of their working hours, with much less time spent in remunerative employment. Even when they participate in the labour market for paid employment, women still undertake the majority of the housework.
When women work outside the household, they earn, on average, far less than men. They are also more likely to work in more precarious forms of employment with low earnings, little financial security and few or no social benefits.
Women not only earn less than men but also tend to own fewer assets. Smaller salaries and less control over household income constrain their ability to accumulate capital. Gender biases in property and inheritance laws and in other channels of acquiring assets also leave women and children at greater risk of poverty.
Paid employment for women does not automatically lead to better outcomes for children. Factors such as the amount of time women spend working outside the household, the conditions under which they are employed and who controls the income they generate determine how the work undertaken by women in the labour market affects their own well-being and that of children.Gender discrimination throughout a lifetime
The above-mentioned 2007 report on state of the world’s had an informative section (see pages 4–5) on how women are discriminated against at various stages through life, summarized here:
Foeticide and infanticide UNICEF notes that “Where there is a clear economic or cultural preference for sons, the misuse of [pregnancy diagnostic tools] can facilitate female foeticide.” The middle years “A principal focus of the middle years of childhood and adolescence is ensuring access to, and completion of, quality primary and secondary education. With a few exceptions, it is mostly girls who suffer from educational disadvantage.” Adolescence “Among the greatest threats to adolescent development are abuse, exploitation and violence, and the lack of vital knowledge about sexual and reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS.” Specific areas that UNICEF highlighted were female genital mutilation/cutting; child marriage and premature parenthood; sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking; sexual and reproductive health; and HIV/AIDS. Motherhood and old age These are “two key periods in many women’s lives when the pernicious effects of both poverty and inequality can combine.” Shockingly, “It is estimated that each year more than half a million women—roughly one woman every minute—die as a result of pregnancy complications and childbirth,” 99% of which occur in developing countries. Yet “many of these women’s lives could be saved if they had access to basic health care services.” In addition, elderly women may face double discrimination on the basis of both gender and age. Many older women are plunged into poverty at a time of life when they are very vulnerable. However, “children’s rights are advanced when programmes that seek to benefit children and families also include elderly women.”Feminization of Poverty
The “feminization of poverty ” is a phenomenon that is unfortunately on the increase. Basically, women are increasingly the ones who suffer the most poverty.
Professor of anthropology, Richard Robbins also notes that
At the same time that women produce 75 to 90 percent of food crops in the world, they are responsible for the running of households. According to the United Nations, in no country in the world do men come anywhere close to women in the amount of time spent in housework. Furthermore, despite the efforts of feminist movements, women in the core [wealthiest, Western countries] still suffer disproportionately, leading to what sociologist refer to as the “feminization of poverty,” where two out of every three poor adults are women. 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 Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p. 354
This then also affects children, which makes the dire situation even worse. For example, even in the richest country in the world, the USA, the poorest are women caring for children .
The lending strategies to developing countries by institutions such as the IMF and World Bank have affected many women in those countries.
Poverty, trade and economic issues are very much related to women’s rights issues due to the impacts they can have. Tackling these issues as well also helps to tackle women’s rights issues. And, tackling gender issues helps tackle poverty-related issues. See also the Asia Pacific online network of women web site for more about issues relating to globalization and its impacts on women.
For more about these aspects, refer to this site’s section on trade and poverty related issues .Women, Reproductive Rights and Population Issues
As seen in the population section of this web site, tackling many population related causes involves tackling many women’s issues such as increased knowledge and access to better health care, family planning and education for women. The beneficial results of these get passed along to the children and eventually the society. In fact, as PANOS shows in a report, providing women reproductive rights is part of their human rights .
And as Amnesty International shows, when basic health care infrastructure is lacking, the poorest suffer the most. For example, in the case of pregnant women giving birth comes with the real risk of death, which affects the rest of the family and community too:Women and children: the double dividend of gender equality
The above title comes from UNICEF’s 2007 report on state of the world’s children where they focus on the discrimination and disempowerment women face throughout their lives and how that impacts children’s lives.
The key messages that came out from the report were as follows:
Gender equality and the well-being of children go hand in hand Gender equality furthers the cause of child survival and development. Gender equality produces a double dividend: It benefits both women and children Healthy, educated and empowered women have healthy, educated and confident daughters and sons. Gender equality will not only empower women to overcome poverty and live full and productive lives, but will better the lives of children, families and countries as well. Women’s equal rights and influence in the key decisions that shape their lives and those of children must be enhanced in three distinct arenas: the household, the workplace and the political sphere A change for the better in any one of these realms influences women’s equality in the others, and has a profound and positive impact on child’s well-being and development. Gender equality is not only morally right, it is pivotal to human progress and sustainable development Achieving Millennium Development Goal Number 3—promoting gender equality and empowering women—will also contribute to achieving all the other goals, from reducing poverty and hunger to saving children’s lives, improving maternal health, ensuring universal education, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and ensuring environmental sustainability.
This short video from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs also hints at the benefits of investing in women; that they will tend to invest in things that improve conditions for much of society:
A short video from the International Herald Tribune also gives a few examples of lives of different women around the world and how they can bring benefits to wider society:
The Female Factor. International Herald Tribune, March 11, 2010Women and Climate Change
Many of the above factors also combine to make women more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) explains:
Women—particularly those in poor countries—will be affected differently than men. They are among the most vulnerable to climate change, partly because in many countries they make up the larger share of the agricultural work force and partly because they tend to have access to fewer income-earning opportunities. Women manage households and care for family members, which often limits their mobility and increases their vulnerability to sudden weather-related natural disasters. Drought and erratic rainfall force women to work harder to secure food, water and energy for their homes. Girls drop out of school to help their mothers with these tasks. This cycle of deprivation, poverty and inequality undermines the social capital needed to deal effectively with climate change.
The UNFPA also captures this in some videos that accompanied their 2009 report.
The first one is the above-described effects occurring in rural areas of Bolivia. The second one is on the impact on women in Vietnam.Women and the Media
Even media attention on women who help and fight for certain causes is distorted. For example, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) analyzed U.S. media reporting during the British Princess Diana’s funeral, and noted that the U.S. media typically concentrate only on a few people like the late Diana and Mother Teresa who had some sort of celebrity type status, and rarely reported on the thousands of others doing similar work.
In other cases, the roles of women presented in the media, from talk shows, to entertainment shows as well as news reporting can often end up reinforcing the status quo and the cultural stereotypes, which influence other women to follow suit. This happens in all nations, from the wealthiest to the poorest (and happens with men as well as children). It can have positive aspects, such as providing guidance and sharing issues etc. but it can also have a negative effect of continuing inherent prejudices etc.
(For more on this perspective, see this collection of articles from MediaChannel.org on Women’s Media )Beijing +5 Special Session
From June 5 to June 9 2000, there was a conference at the United Nations, New York, continuing on 5 years from a similar conference in Beijing, 1995. (The formal name of the conference was “Women: 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century.”)
In 1985 there was a conference in Nairobi, Kenya, to formulate strategies for advancing women’s rights. This was followed by a “plan of action ” defined in 1995, in Beijing.
It has been recognized and agreed for a while that successful development also involves gender equality. The goals of this conference then was to reflect on the promised provisions of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere.
Leading up to, and during the conference, many organizations had numerous issues to bring to the fore, including:
According to a UN report, the international community had fallen far short of its commitments to empower women and achieve gender equality and that only eight out of 188 member states had certain global agreements for this.
It was also pointed out at this UN session that Women continued to be deprived of basic and fundamental rights because of measures imposed in certain countries.
In fact, some were even opposed to moving forward on such important issues, such as Holy See (the Vatican), Nicaragua, Sudan and Libya and sometimes Iraq and various other nations on particular issues such as reproductive rights, even freedom of expression (Libya and the Vatican opposed this). The Vatican, Iran and some other delegations even wanted to delete references to sexual and reproductive rights and health in the Current Challenges section of the review document.
Regarding the Vatican (the Holy See), there was growing concern at their role as permanent observer, where they are considered to be more than a non-governmental organization (NGO), but less than a nation. They therefore have some influence and have been criticized at the way they have affected some UN decisions regarding gender-related issues to be more effectively pushed forward. As part of some of the criticisms, there is the suggestion to challenge the Holy See’s power by demanding that the Vatican should be classified as an NGO instead .
Some NGOs and organizations from the third world trying to fight for women’s rights also felt they were left out of the conference.
For more in-depth discussion of the issues you can also look atBeijing +15 Special Session
15 years on from the 1995 Beijing conference, and a decade after the conference described above, there was a 2-week meeting on women’s rights progress once again. Technically, this was the 54th session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to report on global efforts toward democracy and human development through the empowerment of women.
Inter Press Service (IPS) reported on the conference suggesting mixed feelings on the outcome; while there was improved understanding on some issues, there were still a number of political uncertainties on questions such as whether or not there would be any
It is often argued—and accepted—that women, being the “gentler sex”, and typically being the main care givers in society, are less aggressive than men. Feminists often argue that women, if given appropriate and full rights, could counter-balance a male-dominated world which is characterized by aggression in attitudes, thoughts, society and, ultimately, war.
In May 2004, the Occupation/Coalition forces in Iraq were shown around the world to be committing torture and other grotesque acts on Iraqi captives. For feminists and others, what was also shocking was that some of these acts were being perpetrated by women in the U.S. military.
Feminist activist Barbara Ehrenreich captures some of the thoughts and reactions quite well:
Secretly, I hoped that the presence of women [in the U.S. army] would over time change the military, making it more respectful of other people and cultures, more capable of genuine peacekeeping. That’s what I thought, but I don’t think that anymore.
A certain kind of feminism, or perhaps I should say a certain kind of feminist naivete, died in Abu Ghraib [the prison facility from where most of the torture pictures and footage originated]. It was a feminism that saw men as the perpetual perpetrators, women as the perpetual victims and male sexual violence against women as the root of all injustice. Rape has repeatedly been an instrument of war and, to some feminists, it was beginning to look as if war was an extension of rape. There seemed to be at least some evidence that male sexual sadism was connected to our species' tragic propensity for violence. That was before we had seen female sexual sadism in action.
… But the assumption [within feminism] of [women’s] superiority [over men], or at least a lesser inclination toward cruelty and violence, was more or less beyond debate. After all, women do most of the caring work in our culture, and in polls are consistently less inclined toward war than men.
… If that assumption had been accurate, then all we would have had to do to make the world a better place—kinder, less violent, more just—would have been to assimilate into what had been, for so many centuries, the world of men.
… What we need is a tough new kind of feminism with no illusions. Women do not change institutions simply by assimilating into them, only by consciously deciding to fight for change. We need a feminism that teaches a woman to say no—not just to the date rapist or overly insistent boyfriend but, when necessary, to the military or corporate hierarchy within which she finds herself.
— Barbara Ehrenreich, What Abu Ghraib Taught Me. Alternet, May 20, 2004
Towards the end of the article, Ehrenreich notes that gender equality often appears to be limited to allowing women to have equality in a male-dominated world, meaning women struggle to have rights to do what men do. But, if what men are doing is generally seen as negative, then gender equality in that context is not enough. As she ends:
To cite an old, and far from naive, feminist saying: “If you think equality is the goal, your standards are too low.” It is not enough to be equal to men, when the men are acting like beasts. It is not enough to assimilate. We need to create a world worth assimilating into.
— Barbara Ehrenreich, What Abu Ghraib Taught Me. Alternet, May 20, 2004More Information
For more information on women’s rights in general, see