Feminism is a series of political, social and ideological movements that have a common objective of defining establishing and achieving economic, personal, social and political equality of genders. Feminism aims at challenging gender stereotypes by establishing women with educational and professional opportunities that are equal to those for men. The feminist movements have been fighting for women's rights and challenge the traditional stereotypes that portray women as weak and incapable. These stereotypes also portray women as male objects to fulfill their desires. The movement fights for their freedoms such as the right to work outside home, own property, vote, equal pay, hold a public position, maternal leave, receive proper education and have an equal share in marriage. The promoters of feminism have been successful in achieving women rights to enhance their lives (Lee & Shaw, 2011). Today, women hold high positions in companies and public officers. Moreover, women enjoy much freedom as abortion became legal in almost all countries. There is also the issue of social integration that protects them from domestic violence and sexual harassment. Feminist movements have also changed their modes of dressing and fought for their rights to participate in physical activities. The main issues affecting women include feminization of poverty, women's health & reproductive rights. The purpose of the essay is to discuss problems historically faced by women in these areas and demonstrate the progress that has been made over the past forty years. The essay will discuss some of the present issues to be addressed in these areas to promote gender equality between men and women in society.
Gender Issues That Have Affected Women
Women have been facing several problems in society which really affect their lives. These issues include feminization of poverty, women's health & reproductive rights In earlier days women were made to believe that it was their right to have the limited opportunity in the society hence they could not fight for equality. Feminization of poverty describes the broadening the gap between women and men which is indicated by economic scarcity and deprivation (United Nations, 2000). Women were been facing this challenge because society deprived them capabilities because of gender biases but does not necessarily mean the lack of income. A study conducted by the United Nations in the 1990s showed that among the 1.5 billion people living below a dollar per day the majority were women. Globally, the income of women is slightly more than 50% of that of men (United Nations, 2000). Women had no opportunities to live a long and healthy life where they could enjoy basic rights like respect, freedom, and dignity. In earlier days women were deprived of necessary resources such as inheritance, credit, and land. In most cases, they carried out farm work or household chores that were neither recognized nor rewarded (Gorski, 2008).
There are several policies that have been adopted to eradicate feminization poverty. Providing proper education to both men and women has helped to reduce the gap between the two genders. Education opened up employment opportunities for women hence promoting their economic status. The feminists promoted equal opportunity in the workplace and women claim for equal remuneration. However, policies need to be introduced that protect unemployed, sick, widowed, disabled and old women. Worldwide, the governments should enact laws that allow both a man and a woman to share child responsibility.
Women are more prone to diseases compared to men due to their structural functions. Women have faced the problem of poor health because they cannot access proper medication. Women lacked income and hence could only access healthcare services in public clinics that are understaffed, and overcrowded. They depended on their husband for health care funds who were not willing to give it to them. In some cases, women felt like they were burdening their husbands when they asked for hospital money and hence they choose to remain sick and take pain killers (Gorski, 2008). Women also lacked good nutrition due to low access to education and other support services. The community does not allow women to make critical decisions at home or in the community. The women were revolving around a cycle of poverty hence denying them access to resources and services that improve their health. Poor health reduces their life expectancy and fertility rates when increasing mortality rates. During the 1980s most countries lacked preventive medical services and adequate screening services for women such as cervical and breast cancers that caused many deaths. Moreover, there were few community-based mental health services and drugs to treat serious diseases. The governments have established cheap health care insurance that cost women can afford. The hospitals are more improved with all kinds of machines to protect illnesses.
Women faced problems such as maternal deaths, poor availability of family planning services making them bear many kinds that they could not support (Lee & Shaw, 2011). Moreover, HIV&AIDS and other STD'S became another menace with no drugs to contain it. Women continued to enjoy freedom as a result of this movement for instance in 1960s women were free to use contraceptives to control birth in the United States. Moreover in 1973 abortion was made legal. Women are now able to control their number of children. However, women need to be sensitized about early cancer screening for early treatments. There is also the need to create an environment that increases women decision-making alternatives (Nowicka, 2006).
United Nations. (2000). The Feminization of Poverty. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/followup/session/presskit/fs1.htm
Nowicka W. (2006). Factors Affecting Women's Health in Eastern and Central Europe with particular emphasis on Infectious Diseases, Mental, Environmental and Reproductive Health. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/factors.htm
Gorski P. (2008).The Myth of the Culture of Poverty. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr08/vol65/num07/The-Myth-of-the-Culture-of-Poverty.aspxLee, J., & Shaw, S. M. (2011). Women worldwide: Transnational feminist perspectives on women. New York: McGraw-Hill.
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