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Opinion

Women’s rights are human rights

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

March 8, 2021 was International Women’s Day. It’s a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The theme of this year’s celebration was, “Choose to Challenge”, which means to call out/challenge existing and remaining inequality between genders. Some media have been calling to make it an International Women’s Week, as there are still many places in the world where women are deliberately disadvantaged.

The March 8 Women’s Day celebration originated in the US and Russia in 1909/1910. Socialist and communist women in America and Russia were protesting against the working conditions of women. Clara Zetkin, a German feminist pushed it to be holiday in 2010. This eventually led to the now Women’s rights movements for voting rights, gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence against women protests and achievements. The Russian women were granted voting rights in 2017 while American women were finally granted the right to vote in all states in 1920, in the 19th amendment of the US Constitution. Filipino women were allowed to vote in 1937, one of the first Asian countries where women were allowed to vote.

Historically, women’s rights were just a little above slave rights because during the reign of emperors, kings, and other despotic rulers, women weren’t accorded formal rights. As consorts of emperors and kings, they were accorded titles of empress or queen and their powers depended on their influence on the male rulers. Once in a while, like Cleopatra and others, they achieve much power but through much wiles and efforts. As democratic ideas and developments progressed over many centuries, women’s role in the struggle for justice and freedom marched along, although slightly behind. So we now have many world leaders in government, business, and almost every field of human endeavor at the top of the heap.

At this time of the pandemic, women world leaders seem to be doing better than their male counterparts. The women presidents/prime ministers of Germany, New Zealand, Taiwan, Iceland, and many others are holding and managing better the health and economic crisis. Even in the thick of troubles and controversy, like Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Kamala Harris of the US, and Angela Merkel, women are doing respectably. While the woman who got women to drive in Saudi Arabia was punished, she did get the law passed. And the Indian woman who sued to get paid for her housework for the family for 40 years got the case elevated to court.

Much of the progress in women’s rights happened in the last 100 years and this in step with democratic progress in the same number of years. In the annual survey on the percentages of women in power positions in government and businesses, there is constant annual increase, but higher in countries with democratic institutions. Still, the progress of women’s rights in the Middle Eastern countries and in the communist countries are growing and irreversible. These augurs well for “democracy”, as all rights are human rights, and women’s rights are democratic rights.

To close here is a quote from writer William Golding. “I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men. They are far superior and always have been. Whatever you give a woman, she will make it greater. If you give her sperm, she will give you a baby. If you give her a house, she will give you a home. If you give her groceries, she will give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she will give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges whatever is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of (unprintable)”.

HUMAN RIGHTS
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