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About women

2015-MAR until now: A sampling of
information about women's equality
in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
A partial list of women who were the
first to attain equal rights.

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In the United States:

Infoplease shoes the speech about "Equal Rights for Women" by Shirley Chisolm. She said:

"As a black person, I am no stranger to race prejudice. But the truth is that in the political world I have been far oftener discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black.

Prejudice against blacks is becoming unacceptable although it will take years to eliminate it. But it is doomed because, slowly, white America is beginning to admit that it exists. Prejudice against women is still acceptable. There is very little understanding yet of the immorality involved in double pay scales and the classification of most of the better jobs as "for men only."

 

United Nations activity:

Unfortunately, advances within the United Nations to promote the equality of women are inhibited by the structure of the UN itself, by limited funding, and by the sluggishness by which member nations are willing to change millennia of discrimination against women. Much of the necessary work to improve the status of women must be done by individual states. They, in turn, are opposed by the teachings by many of their religious groups and by their culture.

The 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, had hoped to attain equality for women by the year 2015. Although this did not happen, the United Nations has been able to accomplish some goals:

  • Widespread ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women (CEDAW) since it was proposed in 1979.
  • Passage of Resolution 1325 in the year 2000. This requires parties to armed conflict to protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence and include them in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction.
  • Prioritizing women's empowerment in the Millennium Development Declaration and goals MDGs No. 3 and No. 5, also in the year 2000.
  • Passage of Resolution #1820 during 2008, recognizing rape and other forms of sexual violence in conflict situations as a war crime and a crime against humanity.
  • Establishing UN Women as the secretariat for the Commission on the Status of Women during 2010, providing a main frame body exclusively dedicated to promoting gender equality.
  • Launching an awareness campaign, HeForShe, in 2014 to engage men and boys in challenging discriminatory attitudes toward women.

During 2015, the UN's Commission on the Status of Women launched a new 15-year development plan called "Planet 50:50 by 2030." It is an ambitious plan calling for:

  • Each of the member states of the UN to achieve measurable progress over the next few years in implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action within their country.

  • A commitment by every member state to end all gender inequality within the next 15 years. 1

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2015-FEB-09: Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women delivered speech on the status of women:

She said, in part:

"Twenty years ago in Beijing, countries met with enthusiasm, optimism, and the expectation that we would be able to achieve gender equality by 2005.

The resulting Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is a comprehensive global blueprint for gender equality and women’s empowerment. It is firmly anchored in a human rights framework.

The Platform for Action has a perfect pedigree – inspired by both Member States and civil society. It is part of a cohort of international instruments and declarations, including Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. And it has been sustained through three previous Women’s conferences, in Mexico, Copenhagen and Nairobi. ..."

"The emerging picture is highly complex.

Yes, much has been done, and much of it worthwhile.  However, what we chose to prioritize and act on has not led to irreversible and deep-rooted change.  

On a positive note, the undeniable legacy of the last 20 years is a changed normative landscape. Legislation has been passed in many countries to support all the critical areas of the Beijing Platform for Action. Constitutions have been amended in compliance with CEDAW.

 What has not been done, however, is to change the attitudes that perpetuate the culture of male superiority and the stereotypes that diminish women.  This unfortunately has subverted the gains that the good laws can bring. There remains an unresolved clash between the modern laws and customary laws that has robbed us of the benefits of these good laws.  If we do not address this, our progress will always be compromised.  This is what we have to deal with now, once and for all. ..."

"For the next 15 years, we will be working within the framework of a new development agenda. In order to achieve an integrated and universal agenda, we must ensure full coherence and data-informed linkages between social, economic and environmental policies. And we must pro-actively redress gender inequalities and achieve the empowerment of women and girls.  This is both a goal in itself, and a means of achieving all other goals. I thank you for your unwavering support for this stand-alone goal and the mainstreaming of gender equality in all other goals.

We must achieve substantial change within the first five years, and equality before 2030.  We must use the knowledge generated by our experiences to shape that future.

The reviews tell us unequivocally that we need urgent action and renewed, and much stronger political commitment." 2

We are limited by copyright law to showing only brief excerpts from this speech. We recommend that you read the full speech at: http://www.unwomen.org/

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"India's Daughter" documentary:

Leslee Udwin wrote, produced and directed a remarkable documentary about a young female physiotherapy student, Jyoti Singh, aged 23. On 2012-DEC-16, in South Delhi, India, she watched a movie, "Life of Pi" with a male friend, Awindra Pratap Pande. About 9 PM, they climbed on board a private bus that they believed was going in their direction. He was beaten by some of the occupants of the bus. She was gang-raped and ultimately died of her injuries two weeks later on DEC-29.

The summary of the plot by IMDb states:

"INDIA's DAUGHTER is the story of the short life, and brutal gang rape and murder in Delhi in December 2012 of an exceptional and inspiring young woman. The rape of the 23 year old medical student by 6 men on a moving bus, and her death, sparked unprecedented protests and riots throughout India and led to the first glimmers of a change of mind set. Interwoven into the story line are the lives, values and mind sets of the rapists whom the film makers have had exclusive and unprecedented access to interview before they hang. The film examines the society and values which spawn such violent acts, and makes an optimistic and impassioned plea for change. "

The event triggered a firestorm of protests against both the prevalent culture of India and the lack of protection of women in the country. Six males were accused as perpetrators:

  • One died in his prison cell. Beliefs differ about the cause of death -- whether it was a suicide or murder.

  • One was 17 years-of-age and was tried as a juvenile and given a three-year sentence in prison -- -- the maximum punishment that a juvenile can receive in India.

  • The remaining four were found guilty and given a death sentence.

The documentary was released on 2015-MAR-04 and was scheduled to be premiered on International Women's Day, 2015-MAR-08 on national TV in both India and the UK. However, the Government of India obtained a court order forbidding its broadcast in India.

Perhaps the most offensive scene in the movie involved Mukesh Singh who was one of the men found guilty of murder. During his interview on the film he said:

"When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy. ..."

"A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. ... A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. ... Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes."

In another scene, A. P. Singh, a defence lawyer in the case, said,

“If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight."

Webmaster's note:

One scene that brought home to me the culture's bias against women involved an interview of the victim's mother. She described her daughter's birth and how she and her husband had distributed small gifts to friends to celebrate. This is a custom in her culture, but only for the birth of male babies. People asked her why they were distributing gifts since the baby is a girl. In an interview, Jyoti Singh's parents urges everyone to watch the documentary.

Speaking on MAR-05, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said:

"I'm not going to comment on the unspeakable comments that were made by the person accused of raping this girl, but I think the secretary-general has spoken very clearly on the need to halt violence against women and on the need for men to get involved in halting violence against women and decrying it loud and clear every time it occurs."

Telecast of the movie remained banned in India. However, it was broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the UK and by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Canada during early March. 3,4,5

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Movement toward female equality around the world:

Some notable events:

  • 1872: Victoria Woodhull became the first female president candidate in 1872 for the Equal Rights party (a.k.a. People's Party, the Cosmo-Political Party and the National Radical Reformers.

  • 2016: Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, became the first female presidential candidate in the U.S. to have been nominated by a major political party. She won the popular vote but lost the election because votes in different states are treated differently.

  • 2018-JUN: The City of Amsterdam has had an elected mayor since the year 1343 CE. They elected Femke Halsema, 52, their first female mayor, on JUN-28.

We will augment this list as we run across new developments.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Some U.N. [sic] Gender Milesones since 1995," Women's Enews, 2015-MAR-11, at: http://womensenews.org/
  2. "UN Women Executive Director inaugurates first regular Executive Board session of 2015," UN Women, 2-15-FEB-09, at: http://www.unwomen.org/
  3. "India's Daughter," Wikipedia, as on 2015-MAR-11, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  4. Plot summary, India's Daughter," IMDb, 2014, at: http://www.imdb.com/
  5. You Tube has many videos related to the documentary: the trailer/promo, interviews, an appeal to the Prime Minister of India, etc. Search for "India's Daughter" at: https://www.youtube.com/
  6. Shirley Chisholm, "Equal Rights For Women," Infoplease," undated, at: https://www.infoplease.com/

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Site navigation:

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Home > Human rights > Status of Women > here

Originally posted: 2015-MAR-11
Last updated 2018-JUN-29
Author: B.A. Robinson
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