Posted by: bklunk | December 14, 2006

If I Hadn’t Said It Myself, I Couldn’t Say It Better Myself

I really didn’t pay Suhaila for this post:

Where’s the Girl Power?

    In class on Wednesday we discussed the top priorities of the New Millenium Development Goals and Professor Klunk informed us that gender equality for women is perhaps the most significant. This is because, studies have proven that the more educated women are the more likely it is that they will have less children, participate in the politics and issues of the community, and it holds key to the development of the whole community. Unfortunately in many countries, gender equality for women is the last priority for the government.
     For example, in a recent article by BBC, “Abused woman braves Tanzania’s media” Agnes Mbuyamajuu a native Tanzanian tells her story to world and brings to light just how corrupt the government really is. Agnes discusses how she has been a victim to years of abuse from her husband, nearly facing death and reporting every single incident to the local police. As a response, the police told her that they would not take any action unless she paid them. She responds, “I had just been beaten and run away in my night clothes, where would I get even one cent to give to the police?” Agnes is one of thousands of women that are abused and ignored by the government, who promise a fair trial, yet like Agnes wait patiently for years and years, until one day it may be too late. So what is to be done? Is the trend of failed states and devoloping nations not apparent? Think of every failed state and developing nation versus developed nations; when women are equal, then they can obtain power and prosperity, a direct correlation to the growth of the nation. 

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  1. From my understanding, we were prioritizing goals in respect to the amount of time we have left before the MDG deadline. Sure, equality between men and women will yield great results but it will take a long time. This requires changes in communities and cultures that treat women as they do, a subjective process that will require what steps to achieve? Besides that, shouldn’t basic human needs be met before we can move on to something involving policy and social change? What about children who will die before the age of five due to poverty and disease? I respect gender equality as your priority but we must target basic necessities first and at the same time try changing the roots of problems (your point).

  2. Hate to be a downer here, but correlation does not equal causation; who’s not to say growth and prosperity don’t lead to greater gender equality?

  3. While it is true that poverty and disease are critical priorities for development, one needs to realize that poverty and disease do not just come out of no where. Although it is pretty to sad to say, poverty and disease have been factors of society, plaguing nations throughout time. For example, currently Sub-Saharan Africa lies at the top of the list for desperate need of development, which is also where women have the least rights. Previously, Japan and South Korea were in the list of absolutely poor and needy, yet after women were given the right to work and help with the building of these nations then they boomed and now they are extremely wealth nations. Shouldn’t this example be strong enough to demonstrate the direct relationship between the role of women and the growth of the nation. If education is not distributed first, then the pattern of oppression and exclusion of women will continue. Is it not common sense that when a women is educated or has equality then she will be able to work and provide for her children. And isn’t true that if she is educated then she will know how to properly take care of herself and her family to prevent disease, or most importantly to prevent getting AIDS. Basically, one has to admit that the actions of women in today’s society contributes and holds key to success of development. A real example of this can be seen through the microfinancing organzation that is now based on our campus: Katalysis. They give small loans to women in Central and South America. These women then take that money, start a small business, such as selling chicken or making and selling clothes. They then pay the loan back with interest and use their profits to feed and send their children to school. This creates a continual system of prosperity. All these women needed was a chance, which was given to them, and now they could run their businesses successfully and even use their profits to help build the rest of their community. So, once again I agree with the idea that poverty and disease are the most crucial in development, yet obviously focusing on these things has not helped. So what is wrong with focusing on gender equality, when it has clear results of success?

  4. If we could just get over prioritizing the MDGs, we would all probably agree with Suhaila. In our society, many feel that since the women’s liberation movement was strongest in the 60s, gender equality is no longer an issue, and we stop recognizing the actual differences between men and women. People of both genders try to erase the gender line, but that is detrimental to our ability to recognize the role that gender plays in society. Women, as Suhaila states very convincingly, do hold a key to development. Women birth babies; we can’t deny that. They go through months of pregnancy during which they are not physically able to contribute to their household as much as men. They then take on the responsibility of raising the children, for the most part. This may be less true in industrial societies, but in developing societies it is very unlikely that a man will stay home to raise the children. Therefore, the woman has the power to shape the development of their children by educating them (or not) and providing them with important skills they will need to make smart decisions in their lives (or not). How could anyone not recognize the extreme importance of this task?
    It is very masculine of us all to want to prioritize essential tasks, as if one of them is less essential than the other. The eradication of poverty is essential, as is establishing fair procedures for international trade and sound education systems. Why, then, do we place so much emphasis on ranking things as if one problem will ever be looked at as independently from another?

  5. You can’t just say, “Look at Japan, women were put on more equal footing and look how big they got.” It’s a far more complex issue than that. I could just as easily say, “Women’s lib made breakthroughs in the US in the 1960s, but look at the economic downturn of the 70s and 80s.” I’m not saying gender equality isn’t important, but gender equality is not necessarily the cause of economic development. Education, in my opinion, is probably the most critical of the MDGs, because from solid education will flow improvement in the other areas (for example, uneducated people who have no idea how their governmental system works have no good options for seeking redress and advancement, and they often fall prey to diseases of which they know neither the name, the cause, or the treatment), assuming a government doesn’t actively work against development.

  6. I forget which psychologist it is that ranked the basic needs of human beings but accoding to his pyramid, individuals can’t move up the pyramid (thereby focusing on more important issues regarding their psychological, physical, cultural, and social needs) until after they satisfy the needs listed before those needs/priorities. And he mentions that Hunger is the most basic need an individual needs to fulfill in order to focus on any other needs that they might have. Without fulfilling that need to eat, a person is unable to concentrate and focus on fulfilling any other need. The priority then is to eat, and to feed loved ones. A task, best defended by Suhaila and Sarah, to be performed and taken care of by women around the world. I think for the most part, all three points are interconnected and equally important. With the education of women, the population overall has better health, because they teach their kids and other families about such issues. Taking care of poverty is important, and when given the chance, women have proven to be more worthy of financial help, such as microfinancing, and is then better able to provide for their families and atleast decrease poverty and nights of sleeping with empty stomachs for the family as a whole. And women wouldn’t want to participate in such activities to help themselves and their families if they aren’t empowered and given the respect and treatment of equality. All three factors are important to achieving such MDG’s.

    In this sense, I don’t really think the issue of disagreement in these comments isn’t in the importance of the MDG’s. I believe we all think that each goal is important in their own respect, but the issue’s in the timeframe we’ve alloted ourselves in order to achieve these goals. The timing makes us prioritize on a timeframe, because we’re constantly trying to hit a deadline; while crossing our fingers and praying we make it on time. I don’t think that this should be the method we use in achieving these goals. There just has to be a better way.

  7. It bothers me that women are traditionally the sex held responsible for keeping community and maintaining family. If there are any family or relationship problems, most of the time the women is who is accountable. Creating and preserving strong relationships are much more than one gender or persons fault. I believe this is where the problem starts.

    As a female college student I believe both genders should have equal opportunity to an education and both should strive for it. Also, they should take an active role in their community. I never really thought about it, but I agree that developing countries are the areas where women have been able to, and have spoke out for themselves to gain equality among men. However, I disagree that educated women do not show interest in politics or community. I feel it’s the complete opposite. When anyone for that matter is educated and understands more, they tend to take more of an interest in what is going on around them and want to be a part of it.

    The US is one of the well developed, thriving nations where women have gained a lot of power and fought for equality. Still many women have been able to maintain families and they have taken interest in their communities and government. A strong example I found is Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the ’08 election. She is a woman who has gained a lot of power and status in government and has maintained a family.

  8. I agree that womens education is a very important goal. One very importatn reason, which has alrady been stated, is that women who have received an education tend to have fewer children. This is not the only benefit of educating women but also that women tend to spend and invest more of the money that they make on the family. Education creates an opportunity cost for women. This opportunity cost is between having a large family and having a career. Once a women has received an education she is less likely to have a large family because there is no longer a need for a large family, as well as the fact that she tends to spend more of her income on her children to ensure they receieve the proper healthcare, nutrition, and education. This not only raising her status but also the status of her children. As has been pointed out we can look to countries in the process of development and look at those countries considered to be developed and one large difference is the way that women are treated and viewed. Women’s education is imperative to helping countries on the pathway to development.

  9. Each time I hear of stories, like that of Agnes Mbuyamajuu, I consider myself very blessed to have been born in the freedom of the United States. It seems as if the American media likes to focus on the “inequality” of women in this country, but rarely do they report on the abuses Afghani women or Sudanese women face everyday. It seems rather selfish for females in this country to quote that faulty statistic that “for every $1 a man makes, a woman makes $0.77!” Shouldn’t we have some compassion for the women that are not even allowed to be educated let alone allowed to hold a job?

    I rented a documentary recently entitled “The Beauty Academy of Kabul,” and it is by far one of the best films I have ever seen. It portrays the lives of women in Kabul, Afghanistan after the Taliban was overthrown by the U.S. These women are now free to be educated, and some have chosen to attend beauty school as a demonstration of their liberation from their previous lives of Taliban-enforced burkhas. It is a moving story that really emphasizes the fact that every human being deserves to be free and deserves to live their life without fear. The women in “The Beauty Academy of Kabul” are truly an inspiration for further American efforts to liberate oppressed peoples around the world.

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