THE CHANGING ROLE OF WOMEN
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Despite sharing a closer percentage of population with men in the world, women are often labeled to be the minority and the marginalized group. This is mainly because of their traditional role of being inferior and submissive especially in the usual patriarchy environment. Although the role of women has changed and improved over the years, they are still considered to be a deprived sector of the society.
While analyzing the role of women, history shows that it was not until the nineteenth century, that the role of women underwent an era of transformation. Before that, women despite their marital status were solely restricted to the household chores. This included child rearing, cooking, cultivation and preparation of food. However, teaching and the domestic service were the only jobs which were open for them. The period of industrialization was the time when there was a greater need for labor. As a result, women began to leave home in order to work at the factories in order to support their family. This was further strengthened by World War II. With time, this issue widened because of which, today in the twentieth century, women are seen to occupy a number of various positions in the banks, in schools, in medicine along with their increased participation in taking decisions regarding family planning, in education, economics and more. This transformation in the role of women which took place over several years can be attributed to factors such as changing economy, the changes in the age as noticed in the society and the variation in values. Moreover, the feminist approach or the three waves of feminism also play an important role in recognizing the inferior position of women thereby working in protecting their rights and upgrading their social, economic, cultural and political status. Therefore, along with the feminist approach and the State's efforts, United Nations has also helped in redefining the role of women (Freedman 2001).
While analyzing the changed role of women over the past years, it is conspicuous that women of today are more independent and are treated equally in several aspects of the society. In this regard, research shows the increasing participation of women in the labor force where the greatest participation is seen in the Scandinavian countries. However, a greater percentage of women are found in the part-time jobs and also in the service sector (as observed in Finland) (OECD 2002). Therefore, although the role of women has transformed since they are no longer restricted to the rigid boundaries of their homes, the outside world does not always treat them equally to their male counterparts. Integrating the women into the workforce is seen to be a slow and a difficult procedure mainly because of the previously accepted idea that feminine traits like being submissive and meek would be lost if they enter the work environment. However, after initially starting during the industrial revolution and the World War II, women participation in the labor force continued to grow and their status improved (Jones 2006). The previous share in clerical and sales job gradually shifted to better I.T and bank employment. Consequently, by the 1990s, approximately 46% of the American workforce comprises of women today (EOWA, 2011). As a matter of fact, working women are no longer consider to be deviant or stereotyped but they are being considered and accepted by a number of societies. In this regard, researches often suggest that the increased participation of females in the workforce result in changing marriage patterns where the tradition of early marriages is reducing and more favorable birth control practices come in view.
Furthermore, only two countries allowed women to vote in 1911. Today, women enjoy the greater freedom when it comes to casting their votes and making decisions. Interestingly, almost 186 countries have ratified the convention of CEDAW- Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women, thereby openly opposing gender inequality and being a proponent of women's right. Therefore, women's role has changed over the considerable years. This is evident not only from female representation in media or in the labor workforce, but also in the different realms of life. Women have excelled several aspects of life. They have governed countries like Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher, they are known for their imagination and writing skills (Jane Austen), they have received Nobel Prize in Medicine, Physics, Literature, peace and also stepped on the moon.
Despite countries working in promoting gender equality, women are continuously facing discrimination, are being treated unequally and have little say and representation in several sectors (Kambouri H. 2008). Quite often women enjoy different status and positions in correspondence to the male counterparts not only because of their gender but also because of the difference in society, cultural practice, political and economic stability of their society. For this reason, different women are treated in a different manner. Despite this, universally speaking, sexism still continues to exist at several parts of the world even if that country is developed and a superpower. Therefore, there is a dire need to combat sexism in order to give women an equal or at least a closer status to men.
Women are continuously being seen as a marginalized and a vulnerable group where almost 600 million women do not enjoy a satisfactory employment status. Females continue to be discriminated and abused at the hands of their own family as well as the society (Thomas 2009). Although almost 139 countries constitutionally promise equal rights for men and women, these laws are hardly implemented (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, 2011-2012). For this reason, in order to solve or at least minimize the problem of sexism, attention must be paid so that efforts can be made to bring about a well functioning and a just judiciary and other law enforcing bodies. Due to the lacking in such laws, several women legal organizations have stepped forward which support women to resolve their issues of divorce, dowry and abuse. Therefore, apart from working upon the accountability of the courts, such organizations should also be recognized and promoted. Also, another step to combat sexism could be female participation in the upfront of the law enforcing body. Since several violence and female assault case go un-reported because of the fear and risk associated with it, female representation in the justice system would rather encourage women to stand up and raise their voice against the wrong they have experienced (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, 2011-2012).
Women should also be given a greater representation in the governing bodies thereby ensuring equality between males and females. Moreover, although several organizations have incorporated maternal leaves and established day care centers, attention towards equal wages, promotion on merit, leaves and strict measures against workplace discrimination and harassment should also be a part of the enforcing law. Solving gender discrimination and inequality should thus be at the core of the millennium development goals.
Viewing women in media, military, government, banks and several other places apparently makes one acquainted with the improvement in the status of women and the changed role of women over the past years. However, the dark reality to these positions is also conspicuous when one understands the use of female as sex objects in the media industry, harassment at workplace and the labor force working as maids and sex slaves at several parts of the world. Consequently, this rather raises the question that whether the role of women have actually improved or simply taken another form with the same inferiority perception being existent today as well? Probably the answer is difficult.
Despite the claimed struggle to achieve gender equality and safeguarding the rights of women, females continue to be a subject…[continue]
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