One thing is to achieve full gender equality, legally and socially, which is a basic right most countries in this world have endorsed by signing the Universal Declaration of Human RIghts. See article 1 which states: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and Article 7 which reads: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Another thing is to bring an end to medieval practices of suppression that are still common in too many countries.
If we take the custom of female genital mutilation (FGM), global UN statistics suggest that more than 200 million girls and women have been exposed to such procedures.
We know that this practice is common in parts of Northern Africa. More surprisingly, some research suggests that 93% percent of Muslim women in Malaysia have undergone FGM. In contrast to Malaysia’s ambition to rise as modern industrial nation and tourist destination, frequently marketed in sweet videos under the slogan ‘Malaysia truly Asia’, the Malaysian National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs (JAKIM) issued a fatwa in 2009(!), declaring circumcision obligatory for Muslim women.
This position is contradicted by Muslim authorities in other countries, with reference to the fact that the practice is not mentioned in the Quran, and Mohammed himself never subjected his daughters to such invasions. But sadly, the Malaysian Government has not stood up to protect women, even if the UN has termed FMG a human rights abuse. This ghastly medieval practice is not allowed in public hospitals, but in 2012 the Malaysian Ministry of Health announced that it was developing guidelines to classify the procedure as ‘medical’, something that would obviously contribute to a normalisation.
For anyone who would like to reach out to Malaysian baby girls, I suggest to join a current Care2 petition on the matter, see https://www.thepetitionsite.com/620/345/529/?z00m=30191809&redirectID=2615854842
If we move a bit north-west, to the soon most populous state in the world, India, we find another stark reminder. In a historic decision, the country’s Supreme Court has decided that a 26 year old woman, who in 2016 converted from Hinduism to Islam and married a Muslim man some months later, has the right to decide of her own life. The court ruled that the Kerala High Court had been wrong in deciding that the marriage was invalid and giving the ‘custody’ of the woman to her family. The woman’s father, who claims her husband might be a terrorist, wows to fight on.
The amazing thing here is not the Supreme court’s decision, but the fact a 26 year old woman woman needed the Supreme court’s help to establish the right to decide of her own life. At this day and age one would have hoped India had reached further than that.
What about the rest of the world? There is no lack of examples. If a Pakistani woman who wants to avoid sexual harassment/molestation, she cannot go to a busy market without the protection of a man. The Middle East is generally known for its suppression of women. If we look to the West, the MeToo campaign suggests that a somewhat better looking equality image may be overrated.
The essence is: Fascism in the shape of men suppressing or exploiting women, remains prevalent in different cultures and parts of the world. If we want a world of dignity and fairness, thereby reducing the level of suffering and conflicts, we have to move on.
Could it be that we are just at an early stage of mankind’s development? Our nearest relatives, apes and monkeys are definitely fascists, as are mammals in general. Can we image that a few thousand years from now we will have reached a more advanced and compassionate kind of gender co-existence?
As for now I guess we just we just have to keep struggling.