Women rights are entitlements and rights claimed for girls and women of many societies all around the world. These rights are supported, institutionalized, in many areas these rights are even suppressed and ignored as well. Laws and legal system of every country around the world has legal and social rights of men and women (Rupp, Leila J., and Verta A. Taylor, 1999) and suggest that they should be treated as equally.
In some nations, women rights are broader and in some nations these are limited. In some areas these are practiced and enforced effectively, whereas most of the parts of world, only there are laws and regulations relating to women rights but these are not practiced fully in accordance of law. There are traditional biases in enforcement of laws relating women rights. Commonly accepted wisdom of women’s rights include, to bodily integrate and autonomy, to work, to hold public office, to vote, receive fair wages and equal pay, to get education, and own property , enter into legal contracts etc.
This paper will represent history of women rights in different counries, a brief overview of present situation and conroversies over women rights followed by a brief conclusion.
Women Rights in different Countries:
Women laws differ in some areas of world. Different women laws prevail in different countries.
Due to custom of foot binding, status of Women was low in China. Almost 45% of feet of women had been bounded in 19th century; it was almost 100% for upper class. Foot-binding of women was ceased in 1912. The behavior was very inhuman, foot-binding created difficulty of moving, and limitation of activities. It was a social custom in china that women should not be nearer to men, due to this custom, male doctors were reluctant to treat women in China, and this raised the need of female Doctors of western medicine in china. After realizing the need, first medical college was established in China.
In ancient Greece Status of women differ in its states and from city to city. At that time, there was no legal personhood of women in Greece, and women were supposed to be part of Oikos, headed by a male Kyrios. Women were kept under guardianship of their father or any male relative, and after marriage, their legal proceedings will also be conducted by their Kyrios. In Greece, Women had limited right to property, as citizenship and entitlement to political and civil rights was described in relation of means to life and property, hence women were not treated as full citizen. The exception was that women can get right of property through inheritance, dowry and gifts. But in this case also, their Kyrios had right to look after that property. In Greece, women could enter into a contract that’s value will be less than a barley of medimnos, that is a measure of grain, by this women could involve in little trading. Slave women were not treated as full citizens; they may become and treated as citizens if they are freed. Political and civil rights were gender biased. Women were excluded from citizen rights in practice and principle in democracy of Athenian.
Whereas in Spartan, women were relatively empowered, enjoyed a proper status and respect that was not found in traditional world. It was recognized by Plato that extending political and civil rights to women would be substantively altering the nature of state and household.
In ancient Rome, women lives were captured by much speculation and individual interpretation. In Roman history, almost all secondary resources are written by men about women. in spite of that there is some material written by women also, but it is not uncovered, it is not clear that what were hopes and dreams of Roman women, what were their political issues and they felt about these problems. Women o girls in Rome were married in early age, mostly in 12 years, it seems very controversial in present world, but there was different expectancy of life in that time, but when girls were married in earlier age, they usually die in childbirth, or become very weak due to rapid childbirths without enough gaps. Women did not have choice about how many children they would have, many female infants were exposed by their families because they could not carry on the family name and they also required a dowry at the time of their marriage. In Rome, mothers were encouraged to raise their children while teaching them Roman culture. Girls used to receive some formal education at home, and learn to read and write.
In modern times, status of women has improved a lot. Women of modern time have decided to get her free from old traditions’, feelings, beliefs, that are creating obstructions in their abilities and skills. It is sensible to consider that only males cannot claim of all competencies and skills. Society can prosper in a healthy way, if every individual in society work regardless of gender social class profession, ethnicity and put their maximum efforts for prosperity of society. Modernization has changed things a lot. (Rupp, Leila J., and Verta A. Taylor,1999 )Women are taking part in every field of life, they are making contributions in political system, economic and social matters etc. Women are getting higher education in different fields and making remarkable contributions. Women should continue to strive for excellence in their respective fields. Role of modern age women is considerably different from those of old age, modern women is more energetic and have aim to do something exceptional. She wants to earn for her family and support them. (Bunch, Charlotte,1990) But there are some expectations that are attached with women’s role forever, i.e. to enlarge the family, clean the house and carry out various other tasks. In this rapidly globalizing world, women have to be more competitive in her different traditional as well as wide range of her advanced roles.
However in modern world, constitutions and legal system of almost every country holds a portion (Bunch, Charlotte,1990) for women rights and introduces the enforcement the laws related to women rights. Modern system gives women equal rights of education, employment, social contribution etc. but there still exist some controversies over different rights of women.
Controversies over Women rights:
With the passage of time things has changed. People are free to express their views and opinions about any issue. Many things are discussed openly now. Issue of gender equality is also discussed a lot in many countries, as result of these discussions, many laws and revolutions have also passed, but this is not all about. In spite of those revolutionary changes has occurred in women role and their status in (society, Wetzel, Janice Wood,1993) women did not have political rights till 19th century. A law was passed in 1839 that in case of separation between husband and wife, children below seven year will remain with their mothers. Further in 1857, it was formally made a law that women can divorce her husband if he cruel to her or had left her. Till 1870, women had allowed to keep money they had earned. In 1891, another law was introduced that women cannot be forced to live with their husband if don’t wish so.
All these laws sounds very good and looks attractive and can bring a lot of empowerment for women and can make their lives better, but only in the case if these laws are practiced and implemented practically. (Rupp, Leila J., and Verta A. Taylor, 1999) These laws can advance the rights of women. But their implementation is very rare. For example, in Britain, the attitude of Victorian Britain was that women should look after the home and her house and stay at home, so they cannot live simply with her children. Women cannot own their earnings in most cases, they not devoted with right to divorce her husband. In most parts of the world, women cannot practice their political rights in spite of possessing them. They cannot possess their property rights in many cases. The situation is even worst in developing countries, in some parts of world they are treated as animals.
When we talk about political power of women, it is common all around the world that women are under- represented in decision making at all levels. Whether these decision are about household or public sphere. Moreover in many countries, women lacks rights as own and inherit property, obtain access to credit, attend and stay in school, earn income etc. in many countries.
These issues of inequality when addressed by law; it is way of formalizing the goal of gender equality. There is also a very long debate against home birthing, these debates focus on safety of women as well as on well being of infant.
Women in many developing countered lacks even their basic right. They are not allowed to get education, live an independent life, own property etc. in many cases, women are kept under strict conditions. They are not allowed to earn for their families, to contribute in economy, make decisions about their life etc. women are underestimated; they have limited choices in life. However facts and research shows amazing facts about women of modern era. These facts say that:
Women own only 1% land in the world, while perform 66% work of the world and own just 11% from this.
66% of world’s literates are made up by women.
From all college students, Women are 55%.
Women do not possess equal political power and economic opportunities.
Women are six million more than the men in the world.
Two-third of world’s children is girls who receive less than four years of school education.
From children not doing to school, 66% are girls.
Wars and conflicts affect civilians more especially children and women.
3 out of 4 fatalities in the war are women and children.
Thousands of women are subjected to rape cases.
Sexual violence is common against women.
Almost 75% of refugees and internally displaced are women.
All these refugees and displaced have lost their homes and families.
Gender based discrimination is common around the globe. Gender based violence causes death of one of three women.
More than a half million women die during pregnancy.
54 countries till 2003, have discriminatory rights against women.
Over 7$ trillion work of women goes unpaid.
Almost 1 billion women live on very low income.
Most of the time, question arises that how can the changing status of women can affect or improve the condition of human beings. The answer is obvious, as women are larger part of world’s population, empowering the women is one of key drivers of social evolution in past century. Till century, only countries give women right to vote, but now it has become universal suffrage. There is 19.2% ratio of women legislators around the globe. Over 20 countries in the world are headed by the women. Now movements toward gender equality are irreversible patriarchal structures are challenged. While women are 70% of global consumers they are affecting strongly market preferences. Analysis reveals that there is great interdependence between competitiveness index and gender gap index scores. Companies with gender balanced boards can outperform the other companies. But equity index 2010 shows that there is still lack of political empowerment and economic opportunities to women. Gender based stereotyping is common and continue of affect women around the world negatively. Efforts are being made to lessen the gender gap in terms of establishing national and global policies, but real improvement can be expected when conflicts among social laws, religious’ and customary laws and practices are eliminated. . An OECD survey found that women spend more time on unpaid work than men do worldwide, with the gap ranging from 1 hour per day in Denmark to 5 hours per day in India. Women account for over 40% of the world’s workforce, earn less than 25% of the wages, and represent about 70% of people living in poverty FAO estimates that giving women the same access as men to agricultural resources to women will reduce the hungry people in the world by 100 to 150 billion people.
Reducing gender gap in education will help in empowering women a lot. According to estimates of UNESCO, 66% of literary population with basic writing skills is made up of women.
There should be laws and regulations and their effective enforcement to stop genital mutilation of female, this phenomena causes to traumatize almost 3 million girls in Africa. Occurrence of this phenomenon in various parts of world, such as in Egypt, India, Guinea and Uganda including many other parts of world at over 90%.
Largest war today is violence against women as figures of death and casualties per year reveals. Women bear violence around their lifetime, it ranges from 12% to 59% proportion of women who are exposed to physical violence in their lives. (Joachim, Jutta, 1999) Most of cases of violence are remain unreported due to region, cultural and social practices in some areas of world. Helplessness of women rises during conflicts, when immoral practices are used as weapon. In advanced and challenging fields women got lesser chances to represent the total workforce. . (Joachim, Jutta, 1999) Traditional media also had been ineffective in manipulating gender stereotyping. Women make only one third of full-time workers in Journalism. But majority of women is active user of social electronic media.
Importance of women and their role in society has been recognized very lately. In earlier times women suffer a lot and were living without basic human rights. They were totally dependent on males for everything. Women were facing an extreme of gender based discrimination in laws as well. But with evolution of time, things changed a lot, women and their role was recognized, accepted and admired at national and international level. Laws and regulations were made and constitutional zed as well. But these laws and regulations remain in paper as statements only, and their enforcement is very rare even in today’s advanced era. Women still has to face gender based differences, inequalities; unequal rights etc. women do not possess enough political and social power. They are not free to decide even about their families and personal life. They are perceived as ineligible to take responsibility and make decisions. In many parts of world, women face very inhuman behavior and live very miserable life with excessive burden of responsibilities. The ultimate need now is just not to make laws for women and removing gender discrimination, but the need in fact is to introduce an effective framework for their practice and practical implementation. So women can hope for a better future.