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Still combined with the impediments that every citizen would face, women also have additional challenges to meet as female citizens of a country.
Apart from these, sheer lack of knowledge can also act as a serious impediment. Since citizens are not aware of their responsibilities and rights about active participation, they may accept the passive form of citizenship and never question the system. It is when systems and structures are questioned and their need and validity. This is the only way active citizenship can flourish. For this reason education of citizenship is encouraged and is being actively promoted throughout western democracies. According to Gillgren (2005) the best way to remove barriers is by talking about them and identifying them. He writes:
In building citizenship capacity, citizenship education should practice what it preaches, providing not just information, but experiences of engaging in democracy. Citizenship capacity building is about developing people's capacity to participate in forging a common good. It is about rights and responsibility: and that includes the responsibility to be reflective about one's actions and their impact on the social environment we create.'
Interestingly there are also some barriers which are beyond common recognition and inspection but which are as serious in nature and impact as others. The complexities of modern world are one such barrier. People have to think globally and not just locally in order to become more active citizens. This can be best understood with the reference of global politics. Our country doesn't only participate in the local or national affairs but is also an active member of the international community. It would often make decisions and take actions in connection with international issues. However we as citizens might not always approve of them. But if we don't understand global politics well, we might not be able to actively protest against the actions taken. This awareness about the world is important and even critical for active citizenship. The fact that people never questioned government's actions right after September 11 attacks is a good example of lack of awareness and knowledge about international politics. If public knew about the world as much as it does today, none of the unnecessary wars would have taken place.
Another major impediment are the influences of various modern factors including type of economic system we live in and the media. If media tells you that what the government is doing is correct and must not be questioned, there is a very good chance you will think twice before challenging the governmental policies or actions. This is because these influences play a very important role in educating us about our world. It takes a great deal of courage to develop original thinking and a mind free of prejudice. Similarly when some wrong action takes place and the media offers confusing messages about it, we might start questioning our own beliefs and interpretation. This is a serious barrier to active citizenship because for it to prosper, we must have a firm stand on an issue.
From the discussion and research, it is clear that active citizenship is the more desirable form of citizenship than passive acceptance. It is through active civic and political engagement that a person can hope to become an active citizen. But there are some impediments that might come in the way of exercising the right to active participation in local and global affairs. Citizenship education can play a critical role in creating greater awareness about responsibilities that come with being a citizen. It can introduce students to a whole new world of possibilities. This kind of education is as much required for the adult population as it is for the youth. The greater the awareness, the wider the possibilities for change. This awareness comes through actually engaging in political and social discourse, debate and action. This is what we mean by active citizenship and it should actually be the only form of citizenship.
QCA (1998) Education for Citizenship and the Teaching of Democracy in Schools, Final Report of the Advisory Group on Citizenship, QCA, London.
Marshall (1950) Citizenship and Social Class and Other Essays, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Robin Bunton. Alan Petersen. The New Genetics and the Public's Health. Routledge. London. 2002.
Longstreet, W. 1985. "Citizenship:"The phantom core of social studies curriculum. Theory and Research in Social Education 13 (2): 21-29.
Ferguson, P. 1991. "Impacts on social and political participation." In Handbook of research in social studies teaching and learning, edited by J.P. Shaver. New York: Macmillan
Andrew Dobson. 2003 Citizenship and the Environment. Oxford University Press. Oxford.
Dr. Gillgren. NATIONAL CIVICS and CITIZENSHIP FORUM. Civics and Citizenship Education: Local, regional and global May 2005…[continue]
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