Women's Rights: Where? When?

Posted on: 22/12/2016

A lot of rubbish is written about women's "rights".

There are 195 countries in the world and in very few of them do women have the same rights as men.

Of course, there are many countries where the majority of the population have few rights. Typically, these are countries where government and the economy are both under the control of small minorities, who allow their fellow citizens little wealth and no part to play in the institutions which control society.

However, even in countries with pretensions of offering women equal rights, for example, in relation to voting in government elections, often those rights are nominal. Social, cultural and religious factors can render women impotent.

Just one example of the problems facing women is the fact that millions of girls in India give up formal education when their periods start. Those girls often have no access to basic feminine hygiene products, so are kept at home. In 2016, that is a disgrace that shames all of us.

Lack of feminine hygiene products can be seen as part of a historic conspiracy to make women embarrassed and, indeed, fearful about every aspect of  sex and sexuality.

Around the world, women are kept hidden in various ways, to supposedly protect them from either men or themselves or sometimes both. Religion is sometimes the excuse but long-established cultural norms are often cited as justification for this disgraceful treatment of women.

One thing is certain. The "rules" designed to keep women in their place, whether religious or cultural, have almost always been devised by male-dominated organisations.

Even in Europe, women's rights are not full or properly safeguarded.

A hundred years on from World War 1, which gave massive numbers of women the first real opportunity to take jobs previously only available to men, equal pay for the sexes is still nowhere near being delivered in most employment sectors.

With or without equal pay, there is no doubt that the ability of women to work and to earn their own income has resulted in them gaining freedoms unavailable to their sex a century ago

Women in the UK and elsewhere in Europe are in the main no longer in the position that they have to marry young to safeguard their economic future. Jobs and money allow many the opportunity to chose different paths.

However, many is not all and the percentage may not even be increasing. Also, religious and cultural factors rob women of their rights and sometimes their lives, even in the UK.


Nearly 200,000 women in the UK have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation. Yet not one person has been successfully prosecuted for this disgraceful crime. Were it happening to men, it is certain thousands of perpetrators would now be serving long prison sentences.

Then there are the so-called " Honour Killings", which arise when women pick partners their of whom their families do not approve. Barbarically, this sometimes leads to women being murdered by their own kin. Though this may not happen often, fear of such reprisals must deter many women from standing up for rights that should be available to all who live in our country.

So women's rights continue to be a major issue, in almost every one of those 195 countries I mentioned earlier.

Improvements are tortuously slow.

There is still hope but not much and not for many.

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