Women’s Rights & Gender Equality

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 [The following article is meant to illustrate the rights of women and the way that procedures by non-governmental organizations must be carried out for measured protocol and the protection of women. The following includes passages pertaining to standards compiled by ICRC in the document “Professional Standards For Protection Work”. ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) partnered with organizations such as Amnesty International, Danish Refugee Council, Global Protection Cluster, Handicap International, HRW, HPG, ICVA, InterAction, Medicines Sans Frontiers, OCHA, OXFAM, UNHR, and UNHCR to set standards. Here is an outline of current women’s rights global issues along with solutions to help with the progress of women’s rights. Moreover, laws, legal frameworks, movements and organizations are outlined. In addition, challenges confronting young girls and female orphans are recognized in the work of ONETrack International associated with the current issue.]

 

Serving People With Our High Quality Standards

There are professional standards that non-governmental organizations must adhere to in relation to protecting women and the disenfranchised. In terms of individuals who are a part of the NGO, they are there to be “protection actors” for the people they are to serve. The core of their work must pertain to serving humanity in a peacemaking manner. This means that in conducting the work of serving disenfranchised and underrepresented groups, non-discrimination is essential. They must make certain that there are no detrimental effects to their service; or any that would be counterproductive. A level of respect between protection actors and protected persons must be maintained. Thus, NGOs must rely on communication and collaboration with the people they are serving, in order to confirm and establish what is needed in their lives and communities. Only then can the determination of the served individuals and populations be obtained.

 

Detecting Risk Patterns and Working With Skilled Actors

Not only must protection actors work with individuals in a proper manner, but they should also be able to detect risks and follow up with direct action even after core work is seemingly completed. Protection must be thoroughly enhanced through collaboration. Evaluation and accountability are incredibly important factors to consider in NGO work. Strategies must be implemented. Before developing a response to help people of their concern, protection actors must develop an intense and intricate analysis of risk patterns. The people of the NGO must focus on areas of skill and gain information while sharing details with other skillful protection actors. Serving at-risk individuals must be the priority of people in the NGO and strategies must be established to address risk. If necessary, other key actors must be included in this process.

 

Protection Actors

Protection actors must act according to the roles and responsibilities of the UN peace operations and mandated military force and police service agreements. This ensures that civilians are protected. Moreover, protection actors must guarantee that whenever possible and feasible, they can install a safekeeping conversation with those who are weaponized non-State actors.

 

Having Desirable Goals and Objectives

In order to achieve a specific outcome, there are changes that must be made towards the objective. These changes must be measurable, achievable, relevant, and time specific. There must be a logic resulting in the outcome. The logic behind committing an action must be based upon a threat, vulnerability pertaining to that threat, a volume of achievement, and reachable benchmarks. These objectives could also pertain to the desire of changing attitudes, policies, routines, or behaviors of individuals. Those who are policymakers and stakeholders must also be either inspected or contacted for objectives to be understood and for changes to be made.

 

THE CORE OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS LAWS, HISTORY, AND THEORIES

Overall Theories and Observations

There are several further important observations to be made in regards to violence against women and women’s rights laws and standards. In terms of rape, the UN has reported that 250,000 cases of rape are reported globally. And still, with this strikingly large number, 91% of rape cases go unreported. Globally women are objectified and exploited without their initial consent. The bodily autonomy of women is rarely taken into consideration which is why cases of female genital mutilation and women’s reproductive rights go unchecked. Women’s rights towards clothing and religious garb are also dictated (in cases such as the niqab ban in France). Women’s rights in patriarchal systems are also at stake. Women’s rights towards gender transition (such as in the transgender community), sexual orientation, and gender ambiguity or androgyny are often compromised. Women’s rights towards an education and a career path, and maternal health care rights are also problems. In terms of economic issues, there is a pink tax of feminine products such as hygiene, makeup, and menstruation products. This means that despite earning less than their male counterparts women are being disenfranchised by paying more. Breaking the glass ceiling, women in a marital status and shared responsibilities, the ability to be both nurturing and breadwinning figures, and women’s rights in professional realms/oratorical realms with leadership positions are also essential to observe.

 

Natural Rights

Historically, in many cultures, there has been a conceptualization of women as inferior to men, which takes away from their natural right to be citizens and participate in self-autonomy and authority. The idea that men are the “superior gender” stems from years of association between gender and biology. Not only does this hinder female sexual preference but it also gives rise to practices such as female genital mutilation in which a woman’s genitalia is partially removed. This, in turn, results in negative health consequences, such as urinary pain and cysts. Due to some conceptions of women as the “inferior gender” (mentally, morally, and physically), women have been treated as subhuman and subjugated to many forms of violence and abuse.

 

Equal Employment

The right for women to get paid the same as men is still an issue in modern times. For women to break the glass ceiling and get higher positions, along with paid just as equally as men for the same work, has been a long and never-ending battle. In British colonized China, legislation for equal payment between genders was denied until the 1970s. Within the United States during both World Wars, American women took over positions such as being mechanical engineers, factory workers, stock workers and brokers when their husbands had left for war. However, they were forced to leave their positions to do house work. Moreover, many of those who had been full time workers could only do temporary work due to lack of benefits and pension plans. Several European and Oceanic countries in the 19th century had completely restricted the work of women due to the perceived importance of domestic work. Furthermore, domestic work is a laborious unpaid job with little to no economic benefits for most. Even paid maternity leave is of little existence in many nations. This is despite the fact that women suffer from childbirth pain among many other post and pre-birth complications. Overall, women have been financially stifled due to sexist and heteropatriarchal conceptions of economic scripture.

 

Suffrage

It was not until The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 by the United Nations that a majority of countries had eliminated voting discrimination against women. Although for several years only men had been allowed to vote, women had not. It was not until the 19th century that women had formerly been allowed to vote in an official nation state. Polynesian countries had been the first to give women suffrage. Nordic and Mediterranean countries had followed suit, and slowly other countries had as well. Now, not only are there countries where women can vote, but there are also countries where women can be leaders as well. Examples of such nations are Bangladesh (which has a female prime minister) and Pakistan which had a female prime minister named Benazir Bhutto. Suffrage for women has now been deemed a universal right.

 

Property and Marriage Rights

In several western countries, men would control the property and wealth of women after marriage, and women had no right over it. Marriage would bind women to be subservient towards their husbands. The Married Women’s Property Acts (in 1840s United States) inevitably would protect women’s properties from their husbands and husband’s creditors. Privy examinations had also been sanctioned so that in the court of law judges would be notified if women were forcibly being told to sell their property due to the husband’s wishes. In primogeniture, once practiced mainly in North America and Europe, the first born of the family would inherit property. However, in cases where girls were the first born, this inheritance would be invalid and passed down to the next male child in the lineage. Due to these laws in rural and poor areas, femicide would be a grave issue. Even today, several communities or individuals practice the routine of burying first born daughters due to the lack of economic benefit it would bring the family. In terms of property, many people believe that women can become the property of their male spouses after marriage. In countries such as Kyrgyzstan the kidnapping and forced marriage of brides is an intense issue and the government has created greater penalties against such acts. Moreover, there are many examples for which women are unable to get police protection, restraining orders, or a divorce from a husband or removal from the home despite domestic violence. Not only are women more prone to economic hardship, but also violence.

 

Freedom of Travel/Assembly

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1979 also brought to light the idea of freedom of movement. Without a few countries women were unable to travel afoot or through car without the company of a male relative, although this has recently changed. In Australia until the 1980’s women could not apply for a passport without the authorization of a male spouse. These are signs of heteropatriarchal assertion of men’s control over women’s bodies (including their functions). In terms of submission, even within China, foot binding had been a major component of culture. Women could not travel due to heavy clamping of their feet. Although the intent of such cultural components were to protect women from enemies and male aggressors, this was not removing the main problem; male violence. Overall, the right for women to travel is a human right.

 

Health and Reproductive Rights

The right to health for women is a struggle coinciding with reproductive rights, maternal care, and disease and lifestyle care. Women are more prone to illnesses such as depression, breast cancer, HIV/AIDs, female genital mutilation, and lack of vitamins (due to confinement in the home). These are some of many examples of which women are prone to illness. In terms of HIV/AIDs in many cultures, there is the idea that if men are to have sexual intercourse with virgins their disease will go away. One of the main ways HIV/AIDs is spread is through rape/non-consensual or unconscious sex. Due to lack of education, people have little knowledge on how to prevent such illnesses, prevent such violence against women, and how to treat such illnesses. Because mental health is stigmatized in many cultures (because it is not a physical ailment), many women go untreated and suicide becomes more difficult to prevent. FGM/C (female genital mutilation/cutting), which involves cutting part of or entire female genitalia, is extremely painful. Usually this is finished during adolescence, and many girls die under the procedure or have lifelong side effects of the mutilation. FGM/C is most practiced in sub-Sahara Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. Many of these illnesses have difficult-to-pay-for procedures (with cancer chemotherapy as an example), and because women are less likely to have a high independent income, their ability to pay is stifled. In terms of reproductive rights, in some areas abortion is completely illegal, while other places allow abortion only before the third trimester, typically. Some places may only allow abortion in the case of rape or incest. Moreover, a man’s signature or authorization may be needed to perform this although pregnancy directly affects only the woman’s body. Countries specifically mandate their own abortion laws, and no universal mandate has yet been assembled. Birth control for a while had not been implemented due to the idea that it harms cultural traditions against fornication. Currently, the World Health Organization is creating laws and standards to implement women’s health rights while organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Red Cross, and many more are allowing for health rights to be executed. Overall, although many women have to right to get treatment and preventative care, they lack resources due to cultural stigmas and economic barriers.

 

Education Rights

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and The Convention against Discrimination in Education have guaranteed women’s rights towards education to be universal. At a certain point in Iran and several other nations, women could not enter university. Within the United States, women had also been restricted from access to education. Moreover, young girls had been told to be nurturing figures at home instead of get an education due to lack of sufficient funds of a family to support their daughters. This is partially due to the idea that only boys can succeed in society. Now a growing number of women are not only getting an elementary and secondary education, but are also engaged in more Masters and PhD programs than ever. The future lies in the hands of women and must be inclusive of women.

 

International Humanitarian Law in War Zones

Non-government organizations are obligated to conform to international humanitarian law. In war zones, women may be more vulnerable to exploitation or victimization relating to violent crime. International Humanitarian Law serves as to establish protection for people who are victims of atrocities (not necessarily those directly partaking in warfare or combat). IHL conforms to relevant domestic and regional laws and practices. Efforts of the ICRC are recognized. Referring to relevant regional and domestic laws and other relevant standards. For an NGO, it is important for direct action to be related to serving as victims of oppressive regimes, and not beneficiaries. It is important for the NGO to practice neutrality, non-discrimination, independence, and dialogue.

International Human Law must practice allowing for disserviced groups to have freedom and individual property and territorial rights. This means that NGOs must make certain that states do not interfere with the natural rights of individuals, or feel threatened by armed groups. In the case of extreme public emergencies, NGOs must task themselves with supplying first responders or collaborating with humanitarian relief groups; with a set standard based on the law of the land.

 

THE MAJOR RISKS THAT WOMEN AND GIRLS FACE TODAY

The Foeticide and Infanticide

Gender disparity begins as early as during mother’s pregnancy, notably in developing countries where families prefer boys over girls. These countries exhibit a higher risk of female foeticide and infanticide. In Asia, male births and boys under five are exceptionally more than their female counterparts.Parents take son’s life more seriously than daughters. In developing countries like India, numerous parents skip insurance claim for the girls. When it comes to orphan girl children, the rate of claim is even lower.

 

Access to Education

During the middle years of childhood, access to education diverges distinctively between boys and girls. Girls are more likely to receive poorer education. Globally, girls face a 15 percent higher risk of dropping out of school than boys. In lights of attending secondary school, girls are even more disadvantaged. Only 43 percent of girls go to secondary school at an appropriate age. A World Bank report calculated the losses in lifetime productivity and earnings for girls that do not complete 12-year education all around the world at $15 trillion to $30 trillion dollars.

 

Child Marriage

Child marriage and premature parenthood also put women and girls at stake. 12 million girls are married before 18 each year, and over 650 million women alive today were child brides. Child marriage is a tradition, most prevailing in South Asia, that can be hardly abandoned in the areas where it is practiced. Parents may consent to such marriages due to economic shortage, or they consider child marriage a way to prevent their girls from sexual violence and pregnancy out of marriage. A major consequence of child marriage on girls is premature motherhood. Premature motherhood posts significant threats to women’s life and health. It is estimated that girls under 15 have five times more chance of dying during pregnancy and delivery than women in their twenties. The surviving rate of babies born to mothers under 18 is also lower than that of babies delivered by mothers over 19.

 

Sexual Violence

Sexual abuse, exploitation, and trafficking are the most critical problems among adolescent girls. The earlier a girl becomes sexually activated, the more likely for her to be engaged in sex without consent. In terms of human trafficking, the International Labor Organization estimates a total amount of victims at 40.3 million globally, and 75 percent of these victims are women and girls. Refugee and migrant children(76%), homeless youth(20%), and runaway youth(14%)are among the most vulnerable groups to be trafficked.These are children without protection from parents or any other guardians, recognizing homelessness a major risk factor of child prostitution.

 

Maternal Mortality

Maternal mortality also imposes danger on females, notably on adolescents. According to WHO, about 830 women die from preventable causes in relation to pregnancy and childbirth every day, with 99 percent of deaths occurring in developing countries. The maternal death ratio in developing countries in 2015 is 239 per 100,000 live births, significantly higher than 12 per 100,000 in developed countries. Adolescent girls under 15 are the most vulnerable to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, a leading cause of death among adolescent girls in developing areas. Nevertheless, most maternal deaths are preventable. It is necessary for women and girls to receive skilled care during pregnancy, childbirth, and the weeks after delivery, to lower the chance of maternal deaths. The death of a mother poses significant threats on a family. There is a high possibility among maternal orphans to be not raised by their fathers, in which case the children lose both parents. Even more devastating, in areas such as Sub-Saharan African, orphans are at a higher risk to become child labor or sex workers.

 

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Knowledge pertaining to sexual and reproductive health is also essential. Unprotected sexincreasesthe risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection such as HIV. Women are twice as likely as men to get infected, yet many of them lack knowledge about this. The high risk of HIV infection among women also threatens their children. In 2017, approximately 36.9 million people live with HIV/AIDS, and 1.8 million of these were children under 15. Studies show that maternal transmission accounts for a higher rate of HIV infection among orphans than non-orphans. From a perspective of reducing orphanhood, proper sex education and HIV preventions are needed for women and girls.

 

RISK FACTORS AND ACTIONS IN NEED

How To Measure Risks

In order to allow an organization to obtain desired outcomes, risks must be properly accessed. Firstly, risk factors must be tracked through indications. These indications include threats, vulnerabilities, and magnitudes of reach. In accordance with ONETrack International’s mission, any discrimination toward women affecting children and orphans should be taken into account.

 

Indicators of Risk Factors

In order to understand risk factors, there are several indicators and ways of measuring risk.

Violence against women and girls vary across races, cultures, politics, countries, and economic situations. Regional disparity could be an important risk factor. In general, women in developing countries are exposed to a higher level of risks of being aborted, involved in child marriage and prostitution,and lacking access to appropriate education. These are macro problems associated with economic and cultural situations of the countries, usually hard to be resolved. To close the gap between two genders, responsible international organizations and programs are vastly needed. In 2017, UNICEF supported 4.2 million girls to access education in emergencies, and prevented 2 million adolescent girls from child marriage.More agencies and actions are required for addressing the issues.

Women and girls also face a disproportionately higher rate of sexual violence crimes above other demographics. Knowing the number and ratio of police authorities who understand the severity of sexually violent crimes is one way to access the issue. Along with this, the number and ratio of police authorities who are aware of laws and policies in addressing situations pertaining to violent sexual crime is essential. The number of reportings of allegations received by the police is also important. Moreover, the number and ratio of incidents that police have investigated effectively, punctiliously, and indiscriminately should be evaluated as well. The number and ratio of women and girls reporting faith in the police for reporting mechanisms and measures taken should also be considered. What is also calculated is the number and ratio of women who feel as though they lack security or safety in relation to sexual violence with age, time, and place kept in mind. This allows for measures to be taken to abate the number of attacks occurring. Moreover, the number and ratio of women who report safety of everyday accessibility of resources and services (including therapy, guardianship and lawful police services) is conceived. Lastly, the number and ratio of responders and caretakers who allowed the issue of sexual violence and of the sex offenders involved in these instances is also examined.

In terms of maternal mortality, studies show that women with lower educational level or income and in developing countries face higher risk.Lack of antenatal care is recognized as a predictable risk factor. Hemorrhage(mostly after childbirth), infections(usually after childbirth), hypertensive disorders, complications from delivery, and unsafe abortion are the major complications that lead to maternal deaths. Data collected by the multi-national Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research Maternal and Neonatal Health Registry (MNHR) can be used to monitor the maternal mortality ratio (MMR)and help making public health strategies for relevant programs.

 

Indicators of Progression

In order to track the progress of achievements (and reduce risk factors for girls and women),within an NGO there are several steps that must be taken. Within a period of a couple of months,women and girls must implement measurements to ascertain what is needed in order to minimize exposure of violence and inequality. Moreover, an NGO must abide by finding resources for girls and women in various crises. These resources could be either tangible or intangible. Tangible resources include water, wood, blankets, clothing, and heat for homes. In terms of services, this could include clinics, educational institutions, or emergency hospitals and kiosks in the case of risk. UNHCR and several other organizations recommend that these changes be implemented within six months of identification by women and girls as safe. However, earlier on is better. To increase progress, there must also be community groups that can rely on regular contact and supervision of the police force to address issues and find solutions.

Authorities are also expected to patrol high risk areas regularly. Furthermore, they must ascertain and analyze ostensible incidents of sexual violence within a year’s time and at a quick rate. Because police corruption is a highly pervasive issue, there must be extensive police training and education sanctioned by regional authorities. Moreover, regular inspection of police complaints and the dialogue of girls and women must also be put into consideration. The police must always maintain record keeping practices that satisfy human rights standards and address the concerns of girls and women.

In relation to police, there are also significant lawmakers who must also play their roles. NGOs collectively agree that lawmakers must take measures within a two-year time frame to adopt new laws and regulations against sex offenders. Moreover, legislative, administrative, and more measures should be put into place to prevent new sexual offenses, and adhere to serving girls and women.

To address issues such as education and child marriage, substantial work across all sectors are required. The major work includes empowering girls, mobilizing families and communities, providing services, and establishing and implementing laws and policies. Interventions should be adapted to different contexts. Along with understanding the complex drivers behind the issues, an increasing body of targeted investments from donors and authorities around the world are needed.

 

Indicators of the Programs

There are certain insertions that must be implemented provided that programs wish for activities pertaining to reducing violence against women and girls as well as to empowering them are conducted. These insertions include community groups concerning women and girls to be implanted. There must also be an accurate collection of numbers of participants in such groups. Moreover, the frequency of group involvement and meetings must be accessed, especially when involving the police. Furthermore, with police there must be a methodology to knowing their involvement in understanding laws, policies, and responsibilities. Lastly, there should be a method of calculating how many public education events and public relations involvement have been settled. The number of people reached by awareness campaigns and media outlets must also be approximated.

 

 Efforts To Dissolve Women and Girls’ Rights Crises

For organizations that wish to support women and girls,there is a lot of work to be done. It is essential for such organizations to recognize traditional, social, religious, and cultural norms of communities and nations in order to dismantle violence and discrimination against women.

Across nations, women’s rights must be ensured with coexistence, coordination, cooperation, collaboration, and partnership. Furthermore, international actors must be utilized. Organizations must have data and accountability.

Now, organizations such as the International Council of Women, The National Organization for Women (which fought for the Equal Rights Amendment), Women for Women International, National Council of Women in Canada, Association for the Protection of Women’s Rights, and FEMEN have fought for women’s rights. Many of these organizations care for women’s property rights, reproductive and health rights, freedom of travel, marital rights, suffrage, equal employment, and natural rights. They also help with issues concerning sexual tourism, forced prostitution, entrepreneurship, violence, and domestic abuse. Organizations such as the Transition House of Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States works specifically to give shelter to women and children who are victims of domestic violence. UNICEF, along with some smaller NGOs, is working for better access to education among girls. The United Nations has also established a Commission on the Status of Women. Overall, there are organizations helping with women and girls’ rights (by setting laws and standards).Despite a declining rate of all inequality, much more progress can be made.

 

OTHER IMPORTANT ORGANIZATIONS AND COMMITTEES

The CEDAW Committee

The CEDAW Committee is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. This is a group of 23 experienced members from different states. They report details on women’s rights in their provinces. This was established in 1981 by the United Nations.

The Special Rapporteur On Violence Against Women

Other than CEDAW, the United Nations had employed an expert to reveal reports on the consequences and causes of violence against women in 1994. This rapporteur also provides and implements possible solutions to such violence.

The Working Group

Moreover, The Working Group in 2010 had been established by the Human Rights Council. It has been established to bring light to the issues of discrimination against women in law. This was necessary for promoting the elimination of laws in place that discriminate against women.

Global Establishments

Other notable establishments in international declarations and committees (recognized by the UN) include the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Millennium Development Goals and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The UN has also established several treaties pertaining to women’s rights. These include the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Person,The Right to Equality and Freedom from Discrimination, and The Right to Be Free from Torture.

UNICEF and Children Empowerment

In terms of young girls’ right, UNICEF has been playing a leading role.UNICEF spreads work across all issues concerning girls, including FGM and HIV prevention, education, and career development.International Planned Parenthood also puts gender equality at the core of their work.They help girls fight against FGM, child marriage, and other discrimination.Organizations such as Girls Not Brides specifically make efforts to reduce child marriage.

 

CONCLUSION

Overall, women’s rights must be ascertained for all women of all orientations and gender transitions. Moreover, there are international protocols and standards for assisting women with their bodily and cultural needs. Non-governmental organizations must conform to these many standards and also work with agents and actors to perform to the best of their ability to protect women. Women’s rights are human rights and women must be protected globally. ONETrack International delivers on the mission of defending orphans’ rights. Therefore, constant efforts to protect orphan girls would be made.

 

 

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