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CUSTOMARY, TRADITIONAL AND RELIGIOUS PRACTICES DISCRIMINATE AGAINST WOMEN Customary, traditional and religious practices discriminate against women and undermine the full implementation of international and national legal human rights codes. (SIGI)

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Saturday, 24 April 2021 14:41


Human rights: Food for a prejudice-busting thought ‘Women’s rights’


Human Rights Reader 574


[TLDR (too long didn’t read): This Reader addresses avenues for action against the violation of the human rights of women. For a quick overview, just read the bolded text].


We need to see feminism, not only as addressing issues of gender, but rather as a methodological approach of understanding (and acting upon) the diverse ongoing struggles and issues (Angela Davis)


1. Societies that exploit male workers labor have no interest in the material/physical conditions workers live-in with their women and children. (Must women’s fate always be physical and not one to develop their minds?)* To the elites in these societies, unions are an affront to God. (In his infinite wisdom, God has given men the control of the property interests of their country…). So, if all union busting fails, the troops can always be called in…. These elites are the creatures of capitalism, the ethics of which is so totally corrupt and hypocritical that, for instance, women’s beauty is “no more than the beauty of gold --which is to say it is false and cold and useless”. One can furthermore wonder: Is injustice towards women workers not the opposite of civilization…? If women have to first clarify their own ideals, perhaps then, to be emancipated, women will have to learn about equity, human rights (HR) and women’s rights ideals. (Emma Goldman)

*: Are, by any chance, women thought to be stupid?  If women were stupid, would the world still go around? (adapted from V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River) [Do not forget: Illiterate women are very often numerate… (John Rohdie)].


2. The HR framework does not intrinsically/explicitly demand an end to capitalism, or specifically, to unfettered economic growth. It does though talk about women's empowerment being impossible without recognizing the need for male disempowerment. No surprise then that gender equality is considered incompatible with the basic tenets of the neoliberal credo. (J. Baudot, UNRISD) Since poverty has been feminized, a poverty-oriented policy is bound to be a gender-oriented policy. (Maria Noel Vaeza) [Keep in mind that70% of all those rendered poor are women so that also hunger has a woman’s face].


Laws and policies cannot be ‘neutral’ with regard to gender and women’s rights


3. Sometimes equality in women’s issues is understood narrowly as being only about equal treatment, or equality of opportunities (not of results): The idea is that, as long as everyone can, in theory, compete on a level-playing-field in an open competition, justice is served. But, of course, no playing field is level! Under international HR law, equality means substantive equality.** Women must be able to enjoy their rights equally with men in practice (de facto), not just on paper (de jure) --indeed taking into account the real circumstances and unequal power relations women face. A different treatment is necessary to achieve equality in practice --not forgetting that governments also have extra-territorial obligations; so, countries rendered rich should refrain from actions that impact negatively on women in countries rendered poor. (CESR, IWRAW)

**: It is states that have the obligation to accelerate substantive equality and redress women’s historical disadvantage. (Kate Donald et al, A Rights-Based Economy: Putting People and Planet First, CESR, 2020)


4. Equal pay for work of equal value has been a cornerstone of the human and labor rights regimes since their inception, but most countries still have a significant gender pay gap. This becomes even bigger when you take race and ethnicity into account and compare the wages of, for example, a black/brown woman with a white man --a disparity that holds true in almost every country. Wage workers are disproportionately women and people of color. Wage inequality is the largest determinant of overall income inequality in most countries. This needs to be reversed! It is further indispensable to enable women’s disproportionate burden of unpaid care work to be reduced and counted in national accounts. (Kate Donald et al, ibid)


Let’s face it: Patriarchy is a social construct with historical roots

-Gender innovations that ignore or reinforce interlocking forms of market, class, and ethnic dominance will only ever serve to preserve rather than undermine patriarchal power. (Marie Berry)


5. One can think that religions are ‘primitive’ if they preach patriarchy and the supremacy of men. But the major monotheist religions of our time are explicit in their patriarchalism. They see sexuality as a sin --but this is clearly a male construction associated to the idea of the weakness of women. “Correct sexuality ought to serve reproduction. The rest (the pleasure) is sin”. Hmmm…


6. If the roots of patriarchy are historic, should not/must not social constructs evolve, change, disappear accordingly? Yet patriarchy and the violation of women’s rights are still with us as a crude reality hitting women in the face --and this ideology is transmitted to all societies where the figure of the dominant macho still thrives making it appear as ‘normal’. Engaging in a frontal critique of the still dominant and ubiquitous machismo is indispensable --everywhere.


7. So, never forget patriarchy is a historical construct, an imposed ideology of masculine power. Actually, think about it, power, virility, force and supremacy have historically been masculine attributes (the representation of power has always been a phallic symbol…). Power is abusive, arbitrary; it does not allow discussion …and women are on the receiving end. Here we have a sociopolitical-ideological challenge for us all --both women and men. (Marcelo Colusi)


Bottom line


8. Gabriel García Márquez once said: “The only thing that could save humanity in the 21st century is that women take over the managing of world affairs. Humanity is doomed to disappear in the 21st century due to the degradation of the environment and of HR. Male power has shown not to be able to avoid it given its incapacity of overcoming its narrow interests. Conversely, for women, the preservation of their bodies and of mother earth is a genetic vocation. The reversal of the gender power situation is a fact of life or death”.


9. To end, ponder Mahatma Gandhi’s wisdom: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”  If those are the four stages of social change, the movement for the HR of women seems to have reached stage three; welcome! The time has come for stage four.


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

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-All through 2020, the pandemic was not politicized; rather, politics was infected! (Juan Torres López)

Politicizing any activity is usually understood like something negative. It figures, the term is defined in the dictionary as “giving a political orientation or content to actions and/or thoughts that usually do not have such”. Taken this way, politicizing implies denaturalizing that what is politicized. It happens though that the same term is often used, also in a negative connotation, when political orientation is given to actions or thoughts that indeed do have a political content. Take an example: Economics was born in 1615; by then it was called political economy. This gives us a clear idea that labor, agricultural, health, housing… economics are undisputable parts of the political economy. But there are still reluctant economists that tell us they are not talking about politics or about thing that have to do with politics --the same as Moliere’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme spoke in prose without knowing it… Not being conscious that economic problems cannot be solved with technical interventions, but need political solutions is yet another form of selective blindness. Economist must realize that their actions are indeed political. Political is everything that affects the collective interests. Another patent example is the COVID pandemic. Its resolution is a political and HR issue. Decisions about it are not neutral; they affect in a very unequal way not only health, but income, welfare and life in general, doing so differently for different social groups --not least the biggest group: Women! This is why we do have to politicize everything that has to do with its consequences. Politicizing the pandemic (primarily in HR terms) is not a negative act; it is the opposite: necessary and desirable. (J. Torres Lopez) …Too late? No! your social media marketing partner
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