by Talha Ebraheem
Dubbed as the “Year of the Women” by The New York Times, 2012 saw the women rising up in different parts of the world to demand their rights. What originated as the Convention on Elimination of all forms of discrimination against Women (CEDAW) that later got molded up in a United Nations Women treaty, undertook a journey of more than 30 years eventually making the world realize that something is wrong with the way women are being treated. From roads to the parliament houses, women reigned supreme in terms of demanding the rights they were not allowed before. Despite the emergence of some very negative issues that victimized women in particular, concrete steps were taken to safeguard women interests.
The Convention defined discrimination against women as “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”
After an analysis of different women issues, the findings on some major ones are being reported here.
Not withstanding the setbacks previously, an increasing trend of educational awareness is prospering within the world. In a recent analysis, in which the records of both the developing and developed countries were compared, the percentage of women expected to enter a university program during their lifetimes increased from 60 percent in 2005 to around 70 percent in 2012 (compared to an increase from 48 to 55 percent for men). Women make up more than 50 percent of most of the universities “first degree” graduates.
In South Asian and Sub Saharan region, although the prospects of girls education are still dire, but the progression towards betterment can be observed. The failed attempt in assassination of Malala Yusuf Zai by Swati Taliban, has led the world to patronize her views about girls education.
According to Global Gender Report 2012, North America, Europe and Central Asia score highest in terms of women’s economic participation and opportunity. Empowering women economically makes the society more work balanced, as the experts profess. Saudi Arabia although economically very strong, but ranks 131 out of 135 countries in women empowerment. On the contrary, Bangladesh is much more balanced when it comes to women participation.
In the developing economies, women are more empowered particularly where sustenance methods are primarily agricultural. Positive developments have also been observed in countries where SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises) culture has fostered. This empowering phenomenon can also be attributed to increase in wages, as currently the women earn five percent more than their counterparts as compared to 2008.
Generally women tend to have higher medical expenses than men do, and insurance agencies often practice “gender rating” to charge women more than men for the health services. In the developing countries, the same high costs lead women to overlook their health issues. This issue was ranked as number fifth in the Millenium Development Goals by the international agencies.
Pregnancy related complications accounts to around 1% of the deaths in the developed countries. The focus on developing countries yields horrifying results particularly in the rural places of South Asia and Africa. The highest maternal mortality rate of 6.25 percent has been recorded in Africa. Ignorance of family planning and inadequate access to medical facilities have resulted in thousands of preventable deaths up till now.
Currently more than fifty translation organizations are working around the clock to cater women health issues. Ranging from big corporate organizations to youth voluntary groups, the NGO’s are scattered in all the continents. Particular emphasis on family planning knowledge in countries like Rwanda, safe and legal abortion methods in Mexico City have yielded positive results.
Progress it has been indeed, but still the society has yet to come a long way. The rape epidemic in India, the pro life – pro choice debates in the United States and the women trafficking problems are some out of the many problems that are yet to be solved. The collective demand of the women from East to the West in 2012 acted as a catalyst to the belief, “Change is Inevitable.”