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Women's Rights Around The World

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Being a girl in a male dominated world can be very difficult. Growing up in a time period that is so heavily focused on fighting for equality and our rights has been very eye opening for me. I have attended multiple women’s marches, and i believe that it helped inspire my thirst for equality. I am grateful that I am getting to grow up in a world where I am mostly equal to men, but I believe that we still have a long way to go. There have been many instances in my life where I have had to deal with sexism and oppression. I have been the butt of many sexist and offensive jokes throughout my life. Over the summer, I was at a summer camp and I happened to be wearing socks that said “The Future is Female”. I didn’t think anything of it, but one of the boys attending this summer camp decided to read my socks and say “Oh no! Looks like we’ve got a feminist on our hands!”. I thought it was a very rude and unnecessary comment. It is actions like these that make feminism hard to take seriously for most people.

This essay will argue that women are not yet fully equal, and how their rights are different in different geographical regions. Feminism is the idea that women should be equal and have the same rights as men. Although women can now vote, women’s rights are very different in different regions of the world. Feminism can be perceived as wanting to be better than men, but that is not what it is. “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” 

Different cultures view women in many different ways, some religions can be constricting to women, and women’s rights vary from region to region. 

The women’s suffrage movement began in 1848 in New York. The women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, was one of the first conventions held in support of women. This is said to be the thing that launched the women’s suffrage movement. Over the course of the next 50 years, woman suffrage workers spent their time working to educate the public on the injustice that women were feeling in that period of time. The start of the 19th century was when women realized that if they were going to be taken seriously by men, they would need to have the right to vote. This is when the women’s suffrage movement blew up and became a real issue that everyone was talking about. After years of fighting, on August 18th, 1920, the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote, was ratified. This was considered the biggest victory for women of the progressive era. 

The 1960s and 70s was when the women’s rights movement really started to grow. The women’s suffrage movement was the first-wave feminism movement and focused more on political rights, while the second-wave feminist move was the women’s rights movement that focused more on women’s rights with work, family, sexuality, while also including politics (Burkett, 2019). In the 70s, women were branded as housewives. They were forced to take home economics classes, so they could cook and clean for their men. This was one of the things that sparked the movement of the 60s-70s. During these times, a big subject talked about was abortion. Many people disagreed with abortion, saying that it was morally wrong, but many women argued that they should have the right to have control over their bodies. Women had to fight hard for abortion, because it was actually more dangerous and killed more when it was illegal. Women would seek out illegal abortion clinics that would often end up killing not only the baby, but the woman too. In 1972, Florida passed a law making abortion legal. The right to an abortion is something women are still fighting for today

This movement also strongly contributed to the rate of divorce in the 70s. They successfully liberalized divorce laws to help women in unhappy or abusive relationships. Women were also recently allowed to work higher paying jobs, which gave them more financial stability. This also led to them divorcing their husbands and becoming more independent. They were finally allowed to work, have bank accounts, and own homes.

Recently, there has been more news and ideas about women’s rights. The #MeToo movement was popularized in 2017 to spread awareness of sexual and domestic abuse. That same year, there was a women’s march in Washington D.C. that was similar to a march in 1978. This movement helped so many young women speak out about their experiences with assault and abuse. It is a very difficult thing to speak up about, and the #MeToo movement was very useful with spreading awareness for everyone. It helped bring women together. 

Though we have come far, we still have a long way to go when it comes to gender equality. So, just how equal are women? Family law is a personal status law that can dictate everything about a woman’s life. It covers her status, right to own property, get married, divorced, etc. Family law has always favored men’s rights over women’s. In most parts of Europe and North America, laws like these have been liberalized, while in the Middle East, and parts of Asia, they have been reluctant to liberalize. With family law still in effect in some regions, we cannot be fully equal, as family law is catered to men.

Violence against women is one of the biggest problems that women are facing all over the world. Women of every race, class, religion, status, and sexuality face violence. The United Nations defines it as ‘Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.’ 

This can include domestic abuse, sexual abuse, rape, sexual assualt, forced marriages, emotional abuse, and more. It is a violation of the fundamental human rights. In countries where there is no law against this, women’s expected length of living is usually shorter than men’s. One in three women are said to experience violent acts against them at least once in their lifetime.

“Being a girl, being a woman, was the end.” (Fonda, 2018). Some people may say that the gender wage gap is not real, but it is real and it not only affects women, but women of color even more so. As a percentage of a white mans earnings, an Asian woman would make 90%, a white woman would make 79%, a black woman would make 62%, an American Indian woman would make 57%, and a Hispanic woman would make 54% (Vagins, 2018). The gender wage gap is still very real, and very much a problem. How can we achieve equality if women don’t even make the same amount as a man for doing the same work?

I conducted a survey asking about women’s rights and how equal women are to men, here are some things I discovered. When asked “Do you believe women should be equal to men?” 62 out of the 63 people that took the survey said yes. So according to some demographic questions asked on the survey, 98.4% of people aged 10-18 believe that women should be equal to me. 87.3% of those people believe that women are not yet equal to men in the US. When asked “In the US, do you believe that women currently are equal to men?” 87.3% said no. In the other 12.7%, 62.5% of those responses identified as female. This was surprising, I was expecting more males than females to say that women are currently equal. When asked “Do you believe that some religions constrict women’s rights?” 92.1% of people that took this survey said yes (Frederiksen, 2019). I was surprised because I assumed that people would defend religion, as it can play a very important role in some people’s lives, and they would not want to see it in a bad light. This survey was very useful, I enjoyed seeing how my peers feel about this large issue. 96.8% of people that took said survey believe that different cultures treat women differently. This brings us to the next topic.

Women all over the world experience things differently, for example; In South Korean women have been finding “Spy cams” in restrooms and changing rooms. The images taken with these pictures are usually very personal and are being posted on the internet by men. The government is not taking this as a serious issue, unless the victim is a man (which is a very rare occurrence). These Korean women also have to deal with the fact that abortion is only legal in cases of rape or insest. Even so, women still need heir husbands permission to go through with the abortion. That is another example of men taking power away from women in a time of need.

A study that was put out by the Korean Institution of Criminology of 2,000 Korean men shows that 79.7% of Korean men have admitted to emotionally or physically abusing a girlfriend at least once in their lives. 71% admitted to manipulating their girlfriends by controlling certain aspects of their lives. Restricting how they dress, who they talk to, how often they go out, and monitoring who they are friends with. The current fine for stalking is only $90 (Smith, 2018). This is not okay. Korean women deserve equality and should not have to take this abuse.

Most Asian countries are still filled with sexism and discrimination against women. Currently the Philippines is the only Southeast Asian country with more than 10% of women represented in politics. Women also still only earn 30% of what their male counterparts would earn. Women in Asian countries also expierence lots of workplace discrimination, specifically pregnant women. They also face a constant threat of domestic and sexual abuse. Marital rape is still not considered a crime, as mosrt Asian countries do not yet have all the laws needed to protect women.

Saudi Arabia has recently lifted its ban on women driving, followed by its ban on women traveling abroad. This may not seem like much, but it is actually a huge step for Saudi Arabian women! Saudi Arabia still has a very long way to go, as they still have guardianship laws that make women legal dependants of male relatives. 12 of the 15 states with the lowest working women rate are in the Middle East and North America, and most women are pressured into staying home all day. One of the biggest issues is that the law against child marriages is very weakly enforced, so many women are trapped in a marriage from a very young age, which is hard for them to get out of. Men are also legally allowed to leave their wives with no say from the women, leaving them all alone with no money, no place to go, and no dignity.

Women’s rights in the US are very different from women’s rights in other regions of the world. It seems that women have much more freedom in the US than in the Middle East or most Asian countries. The US was a lot faster with giving women the right to vote and own land than other countries, but women are still not fully equal yet. While women do have most of the same rights as men, they still face sexual harassment, sexism, and the gender wage gap.

Religion is a very large part of most cultures, so it can deeply affect how those cultures treat women. Christianity is the dominant religion in the United States, with 65% of adults identifying as Christian in 2019 (Newport, 2019). People have been manipulating the words of the Bible in a way that puts men at an advantage. Authority in Christianity is male-dominated, with only 9% of American pastors being women. The Roman Catholic Church has not yet allowed women to be ordained. Most churches chose to ignore the sexual assault and abuse that women face, they believe that if they ignore it, it will go awa. In the early ages of the church, adultery done by a woman was punishable by death, while adultery committed by men had no punishment. Catholicism and Christianity usually go together hand and hand, so here are some ways Catholicism oppress women. ‘The Catholic Church has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny,’ (McAleese, 2018). The Catholic church also tries to lessen women from men and separate them completely. The issue is that things written in the bible were appropriate for people back then when it was written, but now would be considered unfair and misogynistic. It contains many verses that say questionable things like ‘Let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.’ (Diedenderfer, 2018). People try to follow the Bible, but some things no longer apply and should no longer be followed.

Women living in the Middle East also have it very difficult due to religion. Islam is one of the main religions in the Middle East. According to Islamic beliefs, there is evil in the soul of women, so they are dangerous to men and should be controlled by men. In Islamic practicing countries, it is said that a woman earns God’s grace by obeying their husbands. This directly feeds the idea that men should demand and women obey. Women are said to only be used as pleasure for men and as reproduction. They are said to distract men from their work, so they must hide and suppress their sexuality for men. They are not allowed to have roles of authority in society other than mother or wife, which is still a small, easily dominated role. Another thing used in the Islamic religion is the hijab. It is used to cover up a woman, so she can not be any danger to a man. This is another way of oppressing women, taking away sexual freedom and making them seem like an object that men can just do what they want with. The strong need to control women can actually be traced back to a practice older than Islam itself. This practice was the honor ethic. Male relatives were meant to protect their female families virginity. If they failed to do so, it would bring great dishonor on their family, as keeping a woman chaste was very holy and important. This honor ethic allows a man to kill a female relative if she does not remain a virgin, even in the case of rape. It also allows a death sentence, this would bring honor back to the woman’s family if she had failed to stay a virgin. According to Islamic law, the legal age for a woman to get married is 9 (Kamguian, 2000). The first step towards Muslim women getting their freedom back is the much needed separation of state and government, that is how they can start to regain their own basic human rights. “I feel that the oppression of all women is rooted in religion.” (Budapest, 2018).

Now that we know how different cultures and religions, we can compare and contrast how different regions treat women based on these factors. The main regions that will be focused on are the United States of America, Asian countries, and countries in the Middle East. They all have very different views on women’s rights and how they should be treated. They are all at different stages on their journey towards true gender equality, hopefully, they will eventually all achieve this goal and everyone can be equal.

The main thing that all three regions have in common is that women are not yet fully equal and still have to experience sexism and oppression from men. The Asian countries are very similar to the Middle Eastern countries. In both regions there are still many laws preventing women from doing everything that men can do. In both the Middle East and some Asian countries, women can’t do things like be in positions of authority such as positions of high political power and jobs that are usually male dominated. They also both have very high standards as to what a woman should look and dress like. In the Middle East, women are required to cover themselves up for men. This is a way that men can control how women dress and act. It is very similar to the very high beauty standards for Korean women. They are conditioned from a very young age that if they do not look a certain way, men will not want them. This causes them to dedicate too much time and energy to getting plastic surgery and making themselves look so different so they can have a mans approval. These may seem different, but they are both ways that men can control what women wear and how they express themselves. These are both different forms of oppression. The idea that a woman needs to change herself for a mans approval is misogynistic, but it is how lots of women feel. They believe that a mans approval is what they need to be happy, but that is not true, and very sad. These two regions do not have much in common when it comes to religion, but the Middle East and the United States of America do have similar religious situations.

While Christianity is definitely not as intense as the Islamic religion, they do both play a role in women’s oppression. They both have similar beliefs in the way that they both have tendencies to imply that men are superior to women. They also both ignore women’s problems like sexual assault and domestic abuse. They may not all be exactly in the same spot at this point in time, but they will eventually get there.

They are all very different. The United States is more advanced in their fight for equality, while the Asian countries and the Middle Eastern countries still have quite a long way to go.

The United States of America probably has it the best currently. They are legally equal to men, they have to deal with misogyny, abuse, assault, and unfair treatment. While these are all still very large issues, women still do have equal rights to men, they can vote, have the same jobs as men, divorce their husbands, and get abortions. What they really are currently dealing with is the moral inequalities.

The place that has it the worst is definitely the Middle Eastern countries. women just recently got the right to even drive and travel abroad. They are still constantly being killed and raped by men. Men have so many more rights than women do and they have so much power over women that it is not okay.

While women in the Asian countries still are not fully equal, they do not have it as bad as the Middle East, but they are not as lucky as the United States. All three regions still have a long way to go and many things to deal with. Those are the reasons women are not yet fully equal to men. These also show the difference between multiple different regions and how they feel about women.

Women may be able to vote, but they are not yet equal. Religion, culture, and region can all affect how equal a woman is in her country. Religion, culture, and region can all impact the way a woman is viewed by society, it affects the way that women live their lives. These three things, culture, religion, and region, can all be traced back to why women were and currently are being oppressed.

In conclusion, women are oppressed and still have a long way to go to reach true equality because of religion, culture, and region.

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