Value Your Rights
Do not take your human rights and the need to know them lightly. In addition, don’t take the fight for gender equality as if it doesn’t concern you.
A very important fact we should understand clearly is that most of the rights and freedoms that we women in most parts of the world enjoy and take for granted today – such as voting, owning our own property or signing contracts by yourselves, for yourselves, going to school and many others were fought for by fellow women who refused to sit unconcerned about the plight of women in society at the time.
But the fight for bringing into reality the human rights of all women is very far from over, as too many women and girls continue to suffer poverty, discrimination and violence is society.
Despite the adoption of CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of all forms Discrimination Against Women) and other human rights instruments on women, the reality is that many women are still being trafficked into prostitution, enslaved in the name of culture, raped in the name of culture, declared witches and either killed or isolated, suffer sexual harassment at work, labeled prostitute if they dare to stand for political office and so on.
We should not be unconcerned about these challenges. Let’s try to do something to bring a change no matter how small.
We have a responsibility to do our part. No matter where we find ourselves, we have a responsibility to stand up for the rights of vulnerable and marginalized women and girls.
We have a responsibility to speak out against injustice, discrimination and abuse against other women and girls in our households, communities and the larger society.
We have a responsibility to fight and stop all forms of violence against women and girls at home, at work and in the community.
We have a responsibility to refrain from joining those who abuse or maltreat other women in the name of culture or religion.
To do the above, we all have a duty to educate and inform ourselves about women’s rights issues so that we are empowered and in a better position to defend ourselves and protect other women.
AREAS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN THE PAST
- Women were not allowed to vote Married
- Women were maltreated or even killed when their husbands died
- women were legally nonexistent in the eyes of the law
- Women had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation
- Married women had no property rights
- Husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity
- Divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women
- Women had to pay property taxes although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes
- Most occupations were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned
- Women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law
- Women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students
- With only a few exceptions, women were not allowed to participate in the affairs of the church
- Women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men