31. Many women face particular barriers because of various diverse factors in addition to their gender. Often these diverse factors isolate or marginalize such women. They are, inter alia, denied their human rights, they lack access or are denied access to education and vocational training, employment, housing and economic self-sufficiency and they are excluded from decision-making processes. Such women are often denied the opportunity to contribute to their communities as part of the mainstream.
32. The past decade has also witnessed a growing recognition of the distinct interests and concerns of indigenous women, whose identity, cultural traditions and forms of social organization enhance and strengthen the communities in which they live. Indigenous women often face barriers both as women and as members of indigenous communities.
Beijing Declaration (1995)
Paragraphs 31 and 32 of the Beijing Declaration speak to the number of barriers faced by women, and then often for their gender as well. It is interesting to note the statement about the “diverse factors” without a specific statement. But the message is taken in, as the effect comes through the marginalization and isolation of women who experience it.
In a number of listed domains, women are denied human rights. They are not seen as full human beings. For men, or women for that matter, who argue for this, they get negative feedback as this is simply verboten; although, the vast and overwhelming evidence is in support of the idea of women, as a general sociological principle, bearing the brunt of the negative facets and consequences of the society.
Women, for most of history where men had the access, have been denied access to education and vocational training. That is, from the primary, secondary, and tertiary educational levels, women were simply denied their fundamental right to education and, in turn, the ability to be equals with men, which stands in regression to the stated Sustainable Development Goal of “Gender Equality.”
Another is employment: in prior months, this has been a subject of coverage and probably will be covered in subsequent reportage on the issues facing women. The notion of a right to shelter or a house; something to make a home. It seems as if crucial and fundamental to the basic notion of a human being in the modern world akin to clothing. It amounts to a barrier and protective skin from the outside world.
Here, we sincerely have failed many women in some crucial ways. In so doing, we reduced the potential health and wealth of the nations. The evidence is clear. With the incorporation of programs, in general, for the improved equality of women with men in education, through democratic rights such as voting, with better access and opportunities in work, with equality in family life, reproductive choice in timing and number of children (if at all), and better representation in political and civic life, the health, wealth, and happiness of societies improve drastically over decades for the better on a number of social development indices.
To deny this, it seems akin to the issues of denialism seen on the socio-political “left” with false beliefs about vaccines causing autism, efficacy of alternative ‘medicines’ observed in allopathic or ayurvedic treatments, the health dangers of GMO foods, or – somewhat legitimate (given the Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima Daiichi disasters) but definitely hyperbolic – fears about nuclear energy; or the socio-political “right” with incorrect beliefs about evolution – especially Young Earth Creationism standing against mounds of biological, geological, and paleontological evidence, the non-reality of climate change or global warming, literalist interpretations of purported holy texts – to attempt to solve the most pressing scientific issues of the day, the efficacy of abstinence-only sexual education paradigms, and so on – for each of them.
Not only a smart move in terms of economics, the moral reasons match too. More people have their rights respected through real implementation. Paragraph 32 speaks to the continued inclusion of Indigenous women’s concerns too. This is particularly of note in much of the settler-colonial societies in which “identity, cultural traditions and forms of social organization” were things to be erased by conscious governmental policy.
It is in this context that we can see the need to emphasize the needs of Indigenous women and their family, and community, concerns too. These barriers for women become amplified for women of the world. It is the context of injustice and unfairness through simply not providing the formal mechanisms in the society for women to be seen as equals. These are the things that need to change and have altered with mass popular mobilization for other groups around the world for a brighter future. It is not pretty or pollyannish, but it is possible.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the Preamble, Article 16, and Article 25(2).
- Convention Against Discrimination in Education (1960) in Article 1.
- The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) in Article 3, Article 7, and Article 13.
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966).
- Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979).
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984).
- The Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (1993).
- Beijing Declaration(1995).
- United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000).
- Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (2000).
- The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa or the “Maputo Protocol” (2003).
- Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence or the Istanbul Convention (2011) Article 38 and Article 39.
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