Down the ages, women were regarded imprudent, inferior and non-significant others. They were accused of being over-sentimental and emotional. They were allowed no voice in the political, social, and economic issues of their society. Tomkins (1993:20) in Bressler (1994:102) mentions “What enrages me is the way women are used as extensions of men, devices for helping men get what they want … They are never there in their own right, or rarely. The world of Western contains no women”. This reflects how women were trivialized and objectified in men’s eyes and how women were constrained and tyrannized in male-dominated societies. This is why many feminist theories and movements emerged to advocate women’s rights and defend their issues in a full sense. (Bressler, C.,1994)
However, when it comes to women’s rights, one should remember that the UN established Issues commonly associated with women’s rights include the right, as Lockwood (2006) states “to bodily integrity and autonomy, to vote, to hold public office, to work, to fair wages or equal pay, to educate, and to have marital, parental and religious rights”. (Lockwood, Bert B., 2006)
I, as a Palestinian witness, believe that due to Occupation, Community Violence, unstable political conditions and poor and deteriorated economic situation, a lot of problems have faced the women for achieving their rights.
Palestinian Authority has worked to overcome the obstacles facing women by offering her free education, open the doors for her to work in the government and ministries and established strict laws on honor killing. Actually, there are many organizations which work in the field for defending women.s rights and support women in all aspects of life. Recently, Mr. President Mahmoud Abbas has signed CEDAW Convention which means “The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”.
I believe that there should have been a sustainable progress that allows women to achieve their rights and goals through fixing all systems that could be related to them, so that women enjoy equal access to health information and services, education, employment and political positions. We should also build knowledge and understanding of the forces, trends, institutions and aspects that are undermining women’s rights and appropriate strategies to address them, create capacity building resources and strategies for and with women’s rights advocates, organizations and movements that will strengthen our overall impact and build alliances across differences based on age, sectors, social movements, regions, issues, and communities in order to build a stronger movement for women’s rights.
We need to start paying much attention to the Palestinian women to be honored on a daily basis not only on the traditional day of International Women Day. We need to give them the tools they need to effectively open-handed, including comprehensive reproductive health care, psychosocial support and knowledge necessary to make empowered decisions. Women should be entrusted that she can make the best reproductive decisions for herself, her family and her society.
A commonly-known slogan goes like this “women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production”. (Allyn and Bacon, 1999)
1- Bressler, C. (1994) Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
2- Lockwood, Bert B. (ed.). (2006)Women’s Rights: A “Human Rights Quarterly” Reader (John Hopkins University Press)
3- Richard H. Robbins. (1999).Global problems and The Culture of Capitalism. (Allyn and Bacon. (P. 354)