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Women's Rights in China
For many years, gender equality and women’s rights in China have been a problem, mainly for women. Various restrictions still take place, even today. Income discrepancies and traditional gender roles in the country aimed at placing and keeping women inferior as compared with their male counterparts.

For example, women who have children do not always receive support from their supervisors and often lose their pay when on maternity leave. From occupational rights to issues such as property rights, men in China have always (and unfairly) been the more supported gender for years. Unfortunately, this continues to this day.

Discrimination in the Workplace

Women of the past and present in China, have dealt with unfair employment practices. They have had to jump over unnecessary hurdles just to keep up with their male counterparts. The Chinese government claims to better prioritize the promotion of gender equality, and therefore women’s rights in China. Particularly — in the workplace, however, recent research says otherwise. Of the job listings in the Chinese Government’s civil service job list, 11% stated preferences for men. The percentage was higher in jobs preferring men from 2018 to 2019, at 19%.

This information was identified by the Human Rights Watch, which also discovered that fewer than 1% of these job postings offered offered support to women. This has caused many women to surrender to traditional gender roles. For example, staying at home, not working and being dependent on the male of the house. Notably, only 63% of the female workforce worked in 2017.

Patriarchal Oppression

China’s history has seen a higher focus on men being the core of not just their families but the country’s overall success and growth. Post Confucius era, society labeled men as the yang and women as the yin. In this same vein, society views Yang as active, smart and the dominant half. This, compared with Yin, which is soft, passive and submissive. These ideologies are not as prominent today but persist enough that there is a problem.

The tradition begins at birth with boys being the preferred children compared to girls in China. A consensus opinion in the country is that if one has a male child versus a female child, they believe the son will grow into a more successful member of the family. The sons are more likely favored because the issue of pregnancy is a non-factor and they can choose almost any job they desire. Of course, this is something that does not support efforts for gender equality nor women’s rights in China.

A survey done just last year found that  80% of generation Z mothers did not have jobs outside of the home. Importantly, most of those surveyed were from poorer cities. The same survey found that 45% of these stay-at-home mothers had no intention of going back to work. They simply accepted their role of caring for the house. Gender equality and women’s rights in China have shifted toward cutting into the history of patriarchal dominance within the country.

Women’s Rights Movement in China

Since the Chinese government is not completely behind gender equality in China for women, the feminist movement is still active and stronger than ever. In 2015, the day before International Women’s Day, five feminist activists were arrested and jailed for 37 days. They were just five of an even larger movement of activists fighting against the traditional gender role ideology that has placed females below males. These movements have begun to make great progress towards gender inequality within the country. From 2011 to 2015, a “12th Five Year Plan” had goals of reducing gender inequality in education and healthcare.

The plan also was to increase the senior and management positions and make them accessible for women to apply for said positions. Xi Jinping, the current President of the People’s Republic of China, has proclaimed that the country will donate $10 million to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. During the next five years and beyond, this support will help the women of China and other countries build 100 health projects for women and children. March 1, 2016, the Anti-domestic Violence Law of the People’s Republic of China took effect. This law resulted in the improvement in legislation for gender equality in China. In June of that year,  ¥279.453 billion was put forth toward loans to help women, overall.

Dorian Ducre
Photo: Flickr

female empowerment through U.N.
When Gaby Aghion founded the French fashion brand Chloé in 1952, she desired to give young women control of their destinies. While Aghion attached destiny to elegant clothing, Chloé’s recent partnership with UNICEF will expand her company’s mission. Chloé seeks to mobilize young women beyond the runway by endorsing UNICEF’s #GirlsForward campaign. All this, to increase female empowerment through U.N. partnership.

What is #GirlsForward?

The #GirlsForward campaign will optimize educational opportunities for 6.5 million girls. Chloé’s partnership with UNICEF will equip young women “with [the] digital and technology skills, entrepreneurial capacity, spirit and confidence” they need to succeed in the workforce. In March, UNICEF began implementing the #GirlsForward program in Bolivia, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Tajikistan.

Both UNICEF and Chloé recognize global gender disparities and will attempt to correct them through quality education. UNICEF claims that “one in three girls are not enrolled in secondary school” as “girls aged 10–14 tend to spend 50% of their time doing chores.” Their families do not prioritize their education but confine them to domestic spaces.

As girls mature and grow, they remain outside the educational system and do not receive equal employment opportunities. If they dare venture into the workforce, Chloé contends that women remain segregated from networks and capital, receiving only 77% of what men earn. Chloé’s efforts to remedy this disparity center in female empowerment through U.N. partnership (specifically, with UNICEF) — and seeking to amend these systemic barriers by making girls’ education a worldwide priority.

Voices of Youth Pushes for Girls’ Education

Chloé hints that “supporting girls education could help us all;” however, the organization Voices of Youth specifically outlines the potential benefits. Like Chloé and UNICEF, Voices of Youth believes girls’ education is a lifeline to their development. An affiliate of UNICEF, Voices of Youth argues that supporting girls’ education will:

  1. Decrease Both Infant and Maternal Mortality Rates: Educated women often seek proper medical care throughout their pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies.
  2. Decrease the Prevalence of Domestic Violence and Child Marriages: Voices of Youth claims, “On average, for every year a girl stays in school past fifth grade, her marriage is delayed a year.” Education enables women to marry later, giving them time to mature as they learn to care for themselves and their families.
  3. Improve Socioeconomic Growth: Educated women can escape poverty and live healthier, more productive lives. In turn, they can raise the standard of living for their families and communities. Patty Alleman, UNICEF’s Senior Gender and Development Advisor adds that girls’ education boosts economic growth by offering women resources to enhance or start businesses.

A Promising Future for All

The #GirlsForward campaign understands these benefits and yearns to educate every adolescent girl in the developing world. As Voices of Youth suggested, education will ultimately improve the lives of young girls and their communities. Chloé’s initiative to support young girls in the developing world pushes forward the agenda of female empowerment, through U.N. partnership. With UNICEF as a partner, Chloé’s mission stretches beyond fashion and will help transform young women into successful entrepreneurs, scientists and coders.

The three-year partnership began on International Women’s Day during the Paris Fashion Week — a fitting time for Chloé to expand its mission statement. Although its goals might be shifting from clothing to education, Chloé will hold fast to the teachings of its founder, helping young women around the world gain control of their destinies.

– Kyler Juarez
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ethiopian Airlines Promotes Women’s Empowerment in Africa

During the month of March, as the world observed Women’s History Month, advocates for women’s empowerment in Ethiopia held a celebration of their own. On March 8, Ethiopian Airlines sent an all-female flight crew from the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in observation of International Women’s Day.

This was a historical feat, as the group became the first all-female flight crew to fly from Ethiopia to the South American city. However, this event was not the first time Ethiopian Airlines made history by dispatching an all-female crew to another city.

As the premier airline of Africa, Ethiopian Airlines has the largest share of revenue in Africa’s airline industry and operates flights to 50 cities in Africa and 95 countries worldwide. The airline is also home to the continent’s largest aviation academy, which trains students from all over Africa to fulfill careers as pilots, cabin crew members, ground staff and maintenance technicians, among other positions. As of 2016, the airline’s academy enrolled 1,300 students in training and the number of enrolled students is expected to grow to 4,000 in the near future.

History in the Making

Ethiopian Airlines first made headlines in 2015 after it dispatched its first all-female flight crew from Addis Ababa to Bangkok, Thailand. Not only were the pilots and cabin crew members women, but so were the baggage handlers, ramp operators, ticket officers and air traffic controllers.

Furthermore, in 2017, the airline dispatched another all-female flight crew in a flight from Addis Ababa to Lagos, Nigeria, the first flight of its kind in Africa. President and CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde GebreMariam stated that the historical flights made to different cities are part of its efforts to promote women’s empowerment in Africa and that the historic flight on International Women’s Day reflects the airline’s values to mainstream gender into its business.

Educational Challenges for Women in Ethiopia

Due to cultural traditions in Ethiopia, women are not encouraged as much as men to pursue a secondary education of their choice and many have struggled to pursue professional careers. UNESCO reported that as of 2009, only 30 percent of Ethiopian women were enrolled in a secondary education program, compared to 39 percent of Ethiopian men. Furthermore, the literacy rate among Ethiopian adults was only 18 percent for women, compared to 42 percent for men.

A Time for Change in the Aviation Industry

This gesture by GebreMariam to promote women’s empowerment in Africa comes at a significant time, while the number of males to females in the aviation industry is still largely disproportionate. According to the Royal Aeronautical Society, “only 3 percent, or 4,000, of the world’s 130,000 pilots are women, and only 450 are captains.” GebreMariam is hoping to change this statistic by inspiring young girls in school to be optimistic about their futures with the opportunity to pursue a career in the aviation industry.

Besides establishing a platform to promote women’s empowerment in Africa, the historical flights are also helping bring attention to Africa’s aviation industry. GebreMariam stated that airlines in Africa only receive about a 20 percent share of the global airline market. He hopes that more efforts made to promote Africa’s airlines in distinct ways will help educate youth throughout Africa and, over time, create a greater market share for Africa in the airline industry.

– Lois Charm

Photo: Flickr

Women's empowerment in Kazakhstan
Since gaining independence in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has come to have a population of 17.8 million. Its president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been in power since independence. Not only is the country’s population large, but so is its geographic size, being no smaller than Western Europe. Though the country may face issues in some areas, the issue of women’s empowerment in Kazakhstan is better than it is in some other countries.

The percentage of women in the national parliament in Kazakhstan is equivalent to that of France, ranking Kazakhstan 47th in the world. This ranking is nearly 30 spots higher than the U.S., which is ranked 76th when it comes to the country’s percentage of women in national parliaments.

Similarly, 66 percent of entrepreneurs in Kazakhstan are women and in 2011, 34.4 percent of businesses in the country were either owned or partly-owned by women. Statistics like these are what contribute to Kazakhstan’s rank of 43 out of 142 countries when considering gender equality.

The country’s effort to support entrepreneurship among its female population is evident with its support of the UNDP Country Development Programme Document for 2016-2020, which aimed, among many other things, to provide more specialized support to female entrepreneurs. This document was created with the help of Kazakhstan’s government.

However, the country still faces problems when it comes to the issue of violence against women. In 2016, there were 2481 registered cases of violence against women and young girls, though this number does not account for undocumented violence. In the same year, 778 women died because of sexual assault, 742 of those being due to suicide.

Despite this setback, U.N. Women in Kazakhstan has funded a project that aims to provide survivors of this trauma with the help they need, which is a positive step regarding women’s empowerment in Kazakhstan.

The country views women as important contributors to its economic, political and social success and even recognizes International Women’s Day, March 8, as a national holiday.

Though Kazakhstan may still struggle with gender inequality and violence against women, the country has made significant efforts to remedy these issues, such as providing $56 million for the development of programs that will support women’s entrepreneurship. As with many other countries, women’s empowerment in Kazakhstan can improve, but improvement is hardly implausible with the number of resources Kazakhstan dedicates to improving gender equality.

– Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr

Uganda_woman_day_africa
For women in developing countries such as Uganda, there is an urgent need for the celebration of International Women’s Day. Women of Uganda face a wide range of challenges including discrimination, low social status, lack of economic self-sufficiency and greater risk of HIV/AIDS infection. These women deserve a day of praise at the very least, which is what March 8, the International Women’s day, can give to them.

According to the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD), in Uganda, as in many African countries, gender discrimination means that women must submit to an overall lower social status than men. For many women, this reduces their power to act independently, become educated, avoid poverty or escape reliance upon abusive men.

Research done by Let Them Help Themselves, an organization dedicated to fighting global poverty, found that women still do all the hard work for only 40p a week, which is less than what the ultra poor live off of. Also, there are no opportunities for rural women living in Uganda to acquire new skills.

However, women’s economic empowerment should not be limited to decent employment and income for women. Structural barriers that women face should be illuminated, and that is where the power of International Women’s Day, which is an official holiday in Uganda, comes into play.

International Women’s Day is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements, from the political to the social, while calling for gender equality. All around the world, women join together to provide a voice for women who have been silenced. The importance of March 8 is to support women of all backgrounds and unite them in the fight against gender inequality.

As demonstrated by the women working in Uganda, there is a gender pay gap that persists across the globe and women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Globally, figures measuring women’s education, women’s health and violence towards women are still worse than those of men.

Recognizing that gender inequality is still prevalent in contemporary society is one of the first steps towards bridging the gap between men and women. Women in Uganda have a fighting chance thanks to the celebration and praise that International Women’s day brings forth.

Megan Hadley

Sources: FSD International, Business Fights Poverty, Telegraph
Photo: Flickr

gender_equality
Countries around the world have been observing International Women’s Day for nearly a century now. Every year, on March 8, thousands of events are held globally to celebrate women’s achievements, but also to highlight the challenges women still face in attaining gender equality. This past weekend saw hundreds of activities in honor of International Women’s Day in the United States, which was the first country ever to observe Women’s Day.

Although great strides have been made in pursuit of gender equality, “the unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.”

In honor of International Women’s Day and the positive changes being made in reducing the gender divide, the following list will outline achievements in the top five countries that have made the most progress in bridging the gap. The countries are ranked based on the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Global Gender Gap Report, which assesses the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities in terms of four dimensions: health, education, economics and politics.

  1. Iceland: Iceland has held the top spot for a consecutive five years, holding the narrowest gender gap in the world. Improvements in economic participation and opportunity and the political empowerment dimensions increased its overall score for 2013.
  2. Finland: Finland has closed both its educational attainment and health and survival gender gaps.
  3. Norway: Norway holds one of the top three spots on the Women in ministerial positions indicator, with 53 percent of women in ministerial positions.
  4. Sweden: Sweden has the highest percentages of women in parliament globally, hailing at 44.7 percent.
  5. Philippines: The Philippines moved up three places on the index due to improvements made in the economic participation and opportunity dimensions. It is also “the only country in Asia and the Pacific that has fully closed the gender gap in both education and health.”

The report indicates that all of the Nordic countries (except Denmark) have closed “over 80 percent of the gender gap and thus serve as models and useful benchmarks for international comparison.” More interestingly, the study notes that because the economies of these countries have made it possible for parents to combine work and family, female employment is at an all-time high.

While the U.S.’s overall score improved in 2013, it fell to number 23 due to the stronger performance of other countries on the political empowerment dimension. The U.S. has, however, fully closed its gender gap in education and health.

– Rifk Ebeid

Sources: The Eastern Tribune, International Women’s Day, The Globalist, World Economic Forum
Photo: I, me, myself

International_Women's_Day
International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. Since then, women have made great progress, but there is still a long way to go. International Women’s Day celebrates the political, economic and social achievements of women.

Education

Ramatou Sambo, a 12-year-old girl in the West African country of Benin, escaped a forced marriage to continue her education and build her leadership skills. With the help of her friends, Ramatou said no to dropping out of school for marriage. The girls asked for help from the Students’ Mothers Association; Ramatou is currently enrolled in school and planning to continue her education. She has the blessing of her parents, who publicly renounced their plan to marry their daughter at such a young age.

Voice

A Yemeni woman, whose name was withheld to protect her identity, goes to great lengths to have a say in her government. She spends one night per week walking through mountainous terrain to make sure that her government does not neglect her opinions. In a country where women are only half as valued as men, it is extremely brave for women to take a stand to make sure their voices are heard.

Growth

From a young girl playing barefoot in an Ethiopian village to the first black Miss Israel, 21-year-old Yityish Aynaw has taken the world by storm. After losing both of her parents, Aynaw moved to Israel to live with her Ethiopian Jewish grandparents.

Aynaw had always wanted to model but it was her friend who signed her up for the Miss Israel competition. When she won, Aynaw was invited to dine with one of her role models, United States President Barack Obama. Aynaw herself is now a public role model to not only the 125,000 Ethiopian immigrants in Israel, but also to women everywhere.

Community

Another beauty queen is using her celebrity status to help underprivileged children and women in her birthplace, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC.) Noella Coursaris founded the Georges Malaika Foundation, which sponsors the education of young girls who have been abandoned or sexually abused. The Foundation financially supports the girls’ school, food, orphanages and uniforms.

Coursaris believes that educating DRC’s young girls will help the entire country progress. “We believe that showing the culture and the creativity of the Congolese orphans and girls through education they will know how to manage themselves — they will have an education, they will have work one day and they will be able to have a voice politically, economically, socially,” she says.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “equality for women is progress for all,” emphasizing the importance of gender equality, empowerment of women, human rights and the eradication of poverty. Women are powerful agents of change in today’s society; in some countries, International Women’s Day is celebrated similarly to Mother’s Day.

Haley Sklut

Sources: International Women’s Day, Care, United Nations, CNN, CNN, Care
Photo: CSMonitor

IWD-2013

In 1947, it was just a small council of 45 governmental representatives. By 1975,  it became a World Conference, hosting thousands of delegates and opening up the dialogue on gender equality. Now, in 2013,  International Women’s Day has become a full blown event, creating massive amounts of social media and political attention around the entire world.

International Women’s Day has brought awareness to issues such as equal pay and voting rights. Through press releases and meetings with country leaders they have established programs and laws that protect women in many different aspects. More recently, the UN has focused on eliminating violence against women in both developed and developing countries. In 2008, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign which sought to actively go into countries where violence against women was not a punishable crime, including eliminating FGM, or female genital mutilation.

This past year was marked by some of the most publicized attacks on young girls and women. Malala Yousufzai, the young Pakistani shot in the head outside her school, the death of the young Indian woman who was raped on a bus, and the suicide in January of a young girl in New Delhi who was silenced by shame over her rape. Why it has taken the world so long to recognize the reality of these happenings can no longer be lingered over. As Ban Ki-moon stated in his 2013 IWD’s message we must “convert outrage into action”.

The official UN observance of International Women’s Day 2013 will be held in New York at its Headquarters from 10am to 2pm EST and can be watched live here. The UN is also releasing a beautiful collaboration between 25 singers from 20 countries with the song “One Woman”. The song speaks of an underlying connection all women have with each other.

International Women’s Day is not about enforcing feminism or any related theory; its about men and women recognizing that there are unspoken atrocities occurring in their communities and in those unknown to them.

There are millions of women who require the encouragement and education to become influential parts of their local governments and economic circles. Reports have been endless on the importance of the presence of females as entrepreneurs and leaders. Their natural passion and ability to multitask has gone unnoticed if not punished in communities around the world.

Progress has been made however: with the Ayara women in Bolivia, where any physical, psychological, or sexual aggression towards women holding office is now a punishable crime, with that Abu Shouk IDP camp in North Darfur, Sudan, that provides much needed education to mothers. All these initiatives are helping women find their power and explore their abilities without the fear of humiliation or death.

International Women’s Day 2013 is branching itself out in every outlet possible to get the theme of this year’s observance across, “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”. Show your support for the strides being made and the continual efforts of the UN and other organizations and the many women they reach by tweeting #IWD2013 or re-posting the song.

Getting the world to understand that this is not just a female issue, but a human one, is the best way to bring an end to all cases of violence and inequality.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source:UN