Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa
The struggle for women’s rights has evolved from the early 19th century feminist movements. In a nutshell, women’s rights are rights that all women are entitled to enjoy, despite their gender. Women’s rights have come a long way since then, and there are still many areas of struggle, such as health care and the right to vote. But what exactly are women’s rights? And how do you go about claiming them?
In the United States, for example, the right to vote for a woman was originally an improbable idea. Yet, today, women’s rights are more widespread than ever. Women can vote in elections, participate in political life, and even obtain citizenship. This is a long way from the days when women were not allowed to vote for men. Besides suffrage, women are now equal to men. The movement grew and eventually spanned the world.
Internationally, there is an international bill of rights for women. The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) requires countries to stop gender discrimination and affirm their right to health care services. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted at the UN’s Fourth World Conference in 1995 aimed to include gender equality in all aspects of society. These landmark documents have led to significant changes and achievements in women’s rights.
Violence against women and girls is rampant, and femicide is a serious problem in the world today. Around one third of women experience some form of physical violence. In fact, nearly 58% of women murdered in 2017 were victims of their intimate partners, while the majority of women who were married before the age of 18 were victims of gender-based violence. And sadly, women are even more likely to become victims of honour crimes than men.
While women’s rights have improved globally in the past half century, the Middle East and North Africa region has made slow but steady progress. In the region, women’s WBL scores have increased by a whopping 70.2% since 1970, putting them ahead of Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the global rankings. In this period, women have become more empowered than ever and changed the role of men in society. It is important to remember that these improvements have also been made in the region, even though they were largely unnoticed at the time.
Equal rights for women are a necessity. In some parts of the world, women have no access to equal pay and land ownership. Others do not have equal political voice. Equal pay and access to education are among the rights that women must be granted. Women must also have equal leadership roles and a political voice, just like men. The change in this aspect of society can transform economies and countries, and lead to self-determination for all women. And it’s only a matter of time before this trend begins to reverse.
However, Democrats and Republicans disagree on the extent of progress towards gender equality. While both sides are claiming equal rights for women, Republicans and Democrats say they’ve gone too far. For example, women in Republican-controlled states are less likely to say that men and women have equal rights. The difference between the two parties is reflected in the differences in their views. And despite the differences in the gender gap, women in general are more likely to claim that their rights are equal than those of their male counterparts.