According to UN resolution, 25th of November is the International Day for the Elimination of violence Against Women. Historically, the date is based on the date of the 1960 assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, ordered by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.
Through this article I would like to remind you of the importance of this day explaining the most common forms of violence, sexist practices and discriminatory behavior and to underline that even if we reached some achievements, there is still a lot of work to do to guarantee women’s rights.
Although many recent Constitutions (including UN Charter, 1945 and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,1948) write about “equal rights of men and women”, there are cases in which women’s rights are not respected. One of the fundamental problems is the sexism that is a consequence created by the Patriarchy, a cultural norm that believes in men superiority and women inferiority.
The problem of a culture like the Patriarchal one is the high level of violence registered worldwide: 1 out of 10 girls under 18 say she was forced to have sex and more than 1 out of 3 women say she experienced physical violence during her lifetime and even in a western country, such as Italy, the problem persists because more than 35% of women don’t report violence to the authorities.
Violation of women’s rights has becoming particularly disturbing also in North Africa where the terrorist group of Boko Haram kidnapped and imprisoned more than 2000 Nigerian girls, between these, even the female student of Chibok University for which was created the famous “#bringbackourgirls” spread through social networks thanks to Michelle Obama, Emma Watson and other influent women.
In contemporary conflicts women face specific and devastating forms of sexual violence. Even after conflict has ended, the impacts of sexual violence persist, including unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and stigmatization. Widespread sexual violence itself may continue or even increase in the aftermath of conflict, as a consequence of insecurity and impunity
Recognizing the impact of war on women and the importance of their involvement in the peace process, in October 2000, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Women, Peace and Security. Resolution 1325 urged Member States to increase women’s representation at all decision-making levels for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict.
On 18 October 2013, the UN Security Council demonstrated renewed its effort by adopting stronger measures to enable women to participate in conflict resolution and recovery: women have been involved in peacekeeping missions and UN mediation teams.
Unfortunately, there are many sexist practices that still exist in the world:
- Women are victims of human trafficking to promote pornography and prostitution: according to UN, in the last 10 years almost 30 millions of girls have been sold and bought.
Asia is a massive center of “women trafficking” and girls from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Thailand are sold to the manager of the red-lights district in every eastern state, especially Japan with its 150 thousand prostitutes;
- Child marriage and arranged marriage. Marriage before the age of 18 is a violation of human rights: according to UNICEF, child marriage often compromises a girl’s development by resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupting her schooling, limiting her opportunities for career and increases the risk of domestic violence;
- Wife selling and wife beating. Most recent example is in Iraq, where ISIS has kidnapped 5000 Yazidi women to be sold as wives for ISIS fighters, 2 thousand of them managed to escape but 3000 are still in ISIS hands;
- Slavery in marriage;
- Prohibitions against birth control and abortion: according to the Pew Research Center, in six countries (Chile, Argentina, Vatican city, Malta, El salvador and Nicaragua) abortion is always illegal while in many countries laws are not clear and there are still controversial opinions: in USA people are divided between “pro-life” and “pro-choice” and the fight has become a real crusade that often results in acts of violence such as shooting against abortion clinics.
Sexism is not only about violence against women but also the persistent discriminatory behavior in cases like:
- Double Duty: It is common that women have their job but they also have to take care of children and house, while men have less responsibilities;
- Unequal pay for equal work: according to latest Global Gender Gap report of the World Economic Forum, it will take 118 years for the economic gap between men and women to close. The WEF said that in the U.S., the gap stands at 64%, meaning that women earn about two-thirds of what men make for similar work. But it resulted that in other countries the situation is worse and the gap is even deeper;
- Greater number of illiterate women due to the impossibility to go to school;
- The access to position of prestige and power is denied
One of the most recent achievements has been the creation in 2010 of the United Nation of Women whose main aim is to accelerate the gender equality and women’s empowerment through developing leadership and political participation, humanitarian actions or investing in women empowerment.
There is still a lot to do but we are on the right way.