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Gender Justice: What Does It Look Like

2370 words - 10 pages

The contemporary debate on the term "gender justice" has various dimensions. There have been philosophical discussions on rights and responsibilities, human agency and autonomy; political discussions on democratization and right to vote; legal discussions on the access to justice. Typically, the term is used to denote mechanisms to promote women's position in society and their access to social parameters like health, literacy, education, occupation and economic independence. While the conventional attitude has been to assume the traditional patriarchal values as normal, more radical approaches have tried to subvert the norms and challenge political status quo. The term is increasingly being ...view middle of the document...

Without literacy and education, women did not have the understanding of their rights. And, women had a right to motherhood as much as the choice for the number of children to bear and the right to a healthy life (UNRISD, 2000).The conservative approach to gender issues, however, concerned themselves with women's 'needs' and not 'rights'. There was a deliberate denial of approaching problems of sexual and reproductive health, or lack of access to safe and clean drinking water, sanitation, healthcare and education as matters of infrastructure inadequacies and hence denial of human rights and distributive justice. Women's activists, on the other hand, considered women's legal rights and the indivisibility of human rights in gender lines as fundamental to enable women to participate fully in the economic and social framework (UNRISD, 2000).Gender is a social construct that defines roles and responsibilities of men and women, regulating the role of sexuality, choice of occupations by men and women and the stereotypes. Typically, men hold positions of power even in democracies. Only 14 percent of the countries have achieved 30 percent representation of women in the parliament, as set out in the Beijing Declaration of 1995. Women have less access to and control of economic powers, rewarded for less remuneration than men for the same work, treated differently in global trade. Women receive less education than men; have to walk long distances to collect drinking water, thereby falling vulnerable to violence; sexual and reproductive health problems result in illness and disability to women; more number of women being victims of HIV/AIDS because of restrictions on women being able to practice safe sex and having access to HIV testing and care services; women become victims of gender-based violence and cultural taboos. On the whole, the mainstreaming of gender has generally failed because the approach towards 'integrating' women in the society does not challenge existing power equations. Women have continued to be offered stereotyped jobs, not receiving equal training and education and insufficient resources for women's mainstreaming (Oxfam).By the time the issue for gender justice came up for a review in the Special Session for the Beijing +5 in 2005, the world had greatly changed. Political and economic changes around the world had shattered the faith in the current state of gender justice measures implemented in various countries. After the end of the Cold War, women had suffered disproportionately more from conflicts in postcolonial societies, calling for attention towards gender justice. In 2004, the United Nations Security Council passed the landmark resolution 1325, calling on governments to protect rights of women in conflict areas. Despite the resolution, however, women continued to be victims of domestic violence and rape in conflict areas (MacMohan, 2004). For many, the failure of gender mainstreaming was the result of its de-politicization, by...

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