Blog Archives

A Needed Voice For Women

It’s Monday! Here’s this week’s post for our Get Educated, One Blog At A Time blog series! This week you can read about gender equality and women’s rights in the Middle East. Also, check out our past blog posts from the series, including: “A Historical Moment For Genocide”, “Two Sides To Invest”, “An Undefined Grasp Of Failure”, “A Necessary Priority”, “A Reform For The World”, “The Rural Challenge” and “Help Starts Young”

The issues of female rights and gender equality in the Middle East exist as challenges the UN, activists, citizens, and many others are currently trying to correct. Most Middle Eastern countries follow the Islamic religion, laying the foundation for what some have interpreted as female obedience and submission to men. These countries have expanded upon and even created rules for women that mimic religious fanaticism. As Middle Eastern/Arab countries such as Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq are now preoccupied with the issue of the Arab Springs and the political and social changes engulfing their country, women’s rights are being pushed to the backburner as insignificant worries. Nevertheless, gender equality remains an important issue that needs to be addressed.

The absence of gender equality in the Middle East is apparent in social restrictions, cultural regulations, politics, and lack of economic rights and opportunity that women experience in this region everyday. According to the laws of Islam, the separation of genders is necessary because women have the ability to tempt men through improper behavior. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women and men are not allowed to use/occupy the public library at the same time. Also, females are required to dress “modestly” in many of these countries so as to conceal their bodies for their husband and prevent temptation: women in both Saudi Arabia and the Kashmir region in India have been threatened, beaten, and unfairly treated for not wearing the burqa, a garment that covers the entire body and leaves little holes for the eyes. In terms of politics, women are restricted from roles of power and authority that are believed to belong to men. Laws protecting women from physical abuse and sexual abuse within a marriage are rare. Relating to Middle Eastern women’s inability to hold positions of power, economic opportunities such as entrepreneurship and leading a company are almost impossible dreams.

UN Documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) stand as milestones for the efforts international gender equality. Both documents have councils that are in charge of monitoring the progress of those countries that have ratified them with regards to gender equality. Ensuring that each individual country is making progressive strides towards female empowerment are the committees’ primary concerns. While the UDHR states rights as “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” and “everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law”, CEDAW is aimed at specifically ensuring female empowerment, equality, and opportunities worldwide. While gender inequality is still very much a reality of our world today, countries like Kuwait (gave women the right to vote and run for office in 2005) and Bahrain (now allows for the appointment of female judges) are making significant strides towards ending this injustice and promoting the equality we each deserve, gender aside.

-Amanda

Are you a human rights defender?

“When we work to secure human rights, we are working to protect the experiences that make life meaningful, to preserve each person’s ability to fulfill his or her God-given potential – the potential within every person to learn, discover and embrace the world around them.”

Today we celebrate Human Rights Day, which honors the United Nations General Assembly‘s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights.

This year’s theme recognizes the work of human rights defenders worldwide who act to end discrimination.

As Secretary General Ban Ki Moon says, “Laws to protect and promote human rights are indispensable. But quite often, progress comes down to people… courageous women and men… striving to protect their own rights and the rights of others… determined to make rights real in people’s lives.  It is these human rights defenders to whom we dedicate this year’s observance of Human Rights Day.”

You can watch the Secretary General’s message in its entirety here, as well as take a quiz to see how well you know your human rights defenders.

What will you do to protect and uphold human rights today?

If you’re in Boston, we invite you to join us today at Wheelock College for the Human Rights Day Luncheon to meet some inspiring human rights defenders!  This year’s luncheon is focused on how sports can be used to promote human rights and fight the impact of poverty and inequity on young people.

Dr. Auma Obama, CARE USA’s Sports for Social Change Initiative Technical Advisor, will be delivering the keynote address. Following Dr. Obama’s address there will be a panelist discussion that features the leading experts in sports and human rights development, including Eli Wolff, Sports and Human Rights Fellow at Brown University, Diana Cutaia, Wheelock Director of Athletics and Sports-Based Initiatives, and Pharlone Toussaint, SPARK The Truth Co-Founder.  The discussion will be followed by lunch and a networking reception.

We hope to see you today!  Find Directions Here.

-Alex