Women's Rights and Gender Equality : Impressive Gains and Staggering Failures by Aruna Rao


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Women's Rights and Gender Equality : Impressive Gains and Staggering Failures by Aruna Rao

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  • But first a word about the context we are looking at: Globalizing processes have a long history but in looking at the last 30 years of so, we can identify some key changes: Increasing pace and penetration of movements of capital, production and people across many boundariesThis process is often complex & contradictoryIt is not only economic but also political and cultural in natureNot gender neutral There has been a growth of transnational corporations and new forms of organizing production, downsizing, new forms of employmentdecentralization and sub-contracting; free marketization has meant a reduction in the old state and controls – incl. protection of local firms and industries, welfare supports, & action to oppose unions and pollute the environmentEmergence of the new economy – computer and information technology, global finance etc. In all these processes, gender and race are invisible; globalization is presented as gender-neutral – for example, unpaid care, household and agr. labor, all informal activity that maintains human life don’t enter into the analysis or are assumed to be in unlimited supplyThe omission of women’s unpaid work biases how we think about globalizing processes and limits our understanding of the negative consequencesGender – refers to differences & inequalities that are socially constructed around assumed differences between male and female; it is a basic organizing principle in social life, for allocating duties, rights, rewards and power incl. the means of violenceit is not an essential attribute of an individual but gets constantly produced and reproduced in every day practices and social activities – this means there are many version of gender – lived differently at different times and placesHowever, a constant recognized by most feminist analysts is the predominant subordination of women within gender relations
  • Remarkable progress – income poverty, girls education; women’s labor force participation, women elected to parliament, Halving poverty measured as those living below $1/day (from 1990 – 2010)Increases in girls enrolment worldwide - 95 girls were enrolled in primary school for every 100 boys in 2007, compared to 91 in 1999; but girls still account for 55% of the out-of-school population.Women’s labor force participation rates outside agriculture have increased marginally but nearly two thirds of all employed women in developing countries work either as contributing family workers or as own-account workers, extremely vulnerable employment which lacks security and benefits; the gender gap in employment persists, with a 24.8 percentage point difference between men and women in the employment-to-population ratio in 2012. As of October 2013, women were 21.8 per cent of parliamentarians in single or lower houses and 19.4 per cent of Senate or upper houses, up from 12 per cent and 10.1 per cent in January 1997, respectively. At the pace witnessed during the last 15 years, it will take nearly 40 years to reach the parity zone in parliaments. Globally, the maternal mortality ratio declined by 47 per cent over the past two decades, from 400 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 210 in 2010. But we are far from reaching the MDG target of reducing maternal mortality by three quarters.
  • As of 2012, According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, 8.4 per cent of the adult population in the world commands 83.3 per cent of global wealth, while almost 70 per cent possess only 3 per cent of global wealth.Change not for all women and not in all domains – for those who are poor,even amid greater wealth, and for those who face other forms of exclusion because of their caste, disability, location, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
  • The Same: A lot has NOT Shifted–
  • The culture of violence against women is widespread - control over women’s bodies, sexuality, and voice held in place by misogyny, brutality, and fear’ (Sandler & Rao, 2012) One in three women worldwide report they have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse, mostly at the hands of an intimate partner, making this form of violence against women and girls one of the most prevalent forms of human rights violations worldwideA recent survey – the largest of its kind which was reported in the Guardian newspaper, based on interviews with 42,000 women across 28 EU member states, found extensive abuse across the continent, which typically goes unreported and undetected by the authorities.across Europe with one in three women reporting some form of physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15 and 8% suffering abuse in the last 12 monthsIn three countries often praised for their gender equality, for example, high numbers of women report suffering violence since the age of 15: in Denmark 52%, Finland 47%, and Sweden 46% of women say they have suffered physical or sexual violence
  • women’s labor force participation (ages 15–64) worldwide over the last twodecades has stagnated, declining from 57 to 55 percent globally. Participation is as low as 25 percent in the Middle East and North Africa. Globally, Gallup estimates that men are nearly twice as likely as women to have full-time jobs—and, in South Asia, they are more than three times as likelyILO analysis of 83 countries shows that women in paid work earn on average between 10 and 30 percent less than men. Gaps are particularly acute in the Middle East and North Africa, but also persist in high-income OECD countrieswomen disproportionately shouldered the brunt of the impacts financial crisis which began in 2008 because they were already structurally disempowered and marginalized in the labor market before the crisis. Also, due to their reproductive responsibilities, they were mainly responsible for household adjustment and coping strategies. Women were hard hit by the first-round impact in terms of job-losses in export-oriented industries, and unemployment and underemployment, as well as the knock-on effects on informal employment. Women were also disproportionately affected by the second-round impacts on intra-households dynamics and coping strategies.This map shows Earnings Gaps across the world
  • This hierarchy of the classes of workers in informal employment according to their relative visibility and quality of employment is also a hierarchy of average earnings across the different segments At the bottom are contributing unpaid family workers and homeworkerswomen are concentrated in the most vulnerable and poorest forms of informal employment They have low, irregular or no cash returns, are subject to a high level of job insecurity and do not have safety nets to cover them during periods of low economic demand when they cannot work or do not have work. In Bangladesh, for example, the share of women working as contributing family workers is nearly double the percentage for men, and two-thirds of all women informally employed are contributing family workers as compared to only 11 per cent of men. On the other hand, men represent an overwhelming majority in the employer category (89 per cent)Source – ILO/ADB, Women and Labor Markets in Asia, 2011
  • Missing girls at birth Overall, missing girls at birth and excess female mortality under age 60 totaled an estimated 3.9 million women in 200885 percent of them were in China, India, and Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Normsaround gender stem from a society’s ideals values of what it means to be a woman or a man. They include everything from cultural beliefs to expected behaviors and practices.These norms are manifest in all aspects of our lives – see diagramthey are widely held and practiced in daily life; they often represent the interests of power holders, and because they instill unconscious learned biases about gender differences that make it easier to conform to long-standing norms than to change to new onesFailure to conform to these dictates can trigger strong social sanctions, such as ridiculing men for being emotional or scorning women who dress inappropriately. Gender norms have been remarkably resistant to change; According to the WB’s report on women and work, “social norms are a key factor underlying deprivations and constraints throughout the lifecycle. Norms affect women’s work by dictating the way they spend their time and undervaluing their potential. Housework, child-rearing, and elderly care are often considered primarily women’s responsibility.” That report also states that “nearly four in 10 people globally (close to one-half in developing countries) agree that, when jobs are scarce, men should have more right to jobs than
  • How can we think about these social norms – or rules of the game – and how can we change them? At Gender at Work we link change in social norms with what we call “deep culture” of organizations and systems, and gender equality. This approach is based on an analysis of the role of social institutions – both formal and informal – in maintaining and reproducing women's unequal position in society. We believe that to have a significant impact on gender inequity, we must change informal rules and norms in formal organized spaces, where social norms are hardwired into diffuse patterns and norms of behavior such as caste and kinship systems, as well as in ways of thinking This framework is not in itself a theory of change – it’s a framework to help a group of people think through how change might take place, and use that as a starting place for learning. Bringing about change in gender equality means addressing changes in four inter-related domains. Vertically, the framework goes from the individual at the top to the ‘system’ as a whole at the bottom. ‘Institutional’ or systemic change is sometimes described as ‘the rules of the game’. Horizontally, on the right is what is tangible and measurable – who goes to school, who gets a loan, who has freedom of movement, whom laws and policies protect. The left hand side is invisible –but very important. At the top is consciousness (knowledge, skills, political consciousness and commitment to change toward equality). At the bottom is culture/values/ informal rules
  • How does the G@W framework help us to explore assumptions about how change occurs – where to start? what impact change in one quadrant could have for change in another quadrant? and how to map out potential complementary relations with other actors? Much clearer understanding now that you have to address the structural underpinnings of gender-based discrimination - Areas that were omitted included violence against women, gender-based wage discrimination, women’s disproportionate share of unpaid care work etc. For change to happen for women’s rights, changes needed in all 4 dimensionsNarrow indicators such as gender parity in education focuses your attention away from “gender-based differences in power and resources that block the realization of women’s rights” and keeps the “structural causes of discrimination… invisible” (UN Women)Inequality within and between countries has increased, Unemployment and underemployment have increased, wages have fallen and together with rising costs of living have pushed the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment called for in the MDG’s further into the distance. (Attempts to achieve the MDGs within a set of orthodox neoliberal policies, including the deregulation and liberalization of financial, capital, and labor markets and reductions in the role of the state)Accountability & Transparency: to enabling ordinary people and civil society to monitor and hold decision-makers to account over the implementation of their commitments
  • access to bank accounts in Dalit women’s names participation in the planning processWork site facilities in 40% of Project villagesDays of Work by Dalit women Involvement of Panchayat raj leaders to access NREGA for Dalit women job cards
  • Context: Wage- less than both domestic workers and mineworkers; appalling living and working conditionsFarm workers often depend on farm owners for multiple benefits—not just their jobs, but also their homes, their transport, and sometimes even their children’s education.Farming is still perceived as predominantly ‘men’s work’, with women’s labor considered supplementary (casual and seasonal labor) – paid less, greater insecurityDop– payment in wine - levels of alcohol abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome and domestic violence are high3 and 11 percent of farm workers are unionized, compared to 30 percent in the formal sector as a whole and over 75 percent for mineworkersSikhula Sonke – organizes around social and labor concernsadvocates for decent work & decent living conditionsRaises awareness on social rights, fair trade, domestic abuse, alcohol addiction, health and food safetyWorking to create new norms of human rights and dignity – challenge owners, challenge members; Challenging norms – especially related to historically constructed dynamics of alcoholism, violence against women and deeply entrenched attitudes of paternalism and victimhood
  • G@W introduced: mind-body-spirit practices & creative forms of expression to free up energy and achieve new understandings & actionsanalytical and action planning tools; supported organizations in developing change plans & implementing themconcepts & processes for working with personal and organizational power
  • Personal Change: “We are stronger; “I am stronger and I can fight my own battles, I know my rights and I respect other people’s rights” (Gertruida); “What has changed? Power. You need to recognize that other people have the right to speak and to be heard. Union President shared talks of how she grew stronger and more confident; how her relationship to power changed and how this in turn impacted on how she felt she needed to lead. She was better able to receive criticism and be vulnerable. One change team member described how giving up alcohol was one of the most significant changes in her own life, and how this has also impacted significantly on her role in the unionFarmworkers’ daily lives were improving and they were gaining access to new resourcesworkers were successfully fighting for increases or getting their jobs back after being dismissed. At farm level, in various districts, workers had won access to toilets in the vineyards and in some areas electricity. On one farm, workers won the right for a ramp – so that a wheel chair could go up into the house.Union cultureLeaders at the branch level were less dependent on organizers, demonstrating an increase in knowledge, greater confidence and increased abilities to solve their own problems
  • Women's Rights and Gender Equality : Impressive Gains and Staggering Failures by Aruna Rao

    1. 1. CONTEXT & CONTENT GENDER •Differences & Inequalities That Are Socially Constructed Around Assumed Differences Between Male And Female •Basic Organizing Principle In Social Life, For Allocating Duties, Rights, Rewards And Power Incl. The Means Of Violence GLOBALIZATION •Increasing Pace And Penetration Of Movements Of Capital, Production And People Across Many Boundaries •Complex, Processual, Contradictory •Economic, Political, Cultural •Not Gender Neutral Source: Joan Acker, Gender, Capitalism and Globalization
    2. 2. MUCH CHANGE
    3. 3. NOT ALL CHANGE IS POSITIVE “8.4 per cent of the adult population in the world commands 83.3 per cent of global wealth, while almost 70 per cent possess only 3 per cent of global wealth”
    4. 4. Violence against women
    5. 5. Source: WDR 2011
    6. 6. Source: WDR 2011
    7. 7. STICKY ISSUES & PERSISTENT PROBLEMS Low rates of girls secondary school retention Biases against full citizenship rights, owning property, and low economic participation Women excluded from leadership & decision making Subsistence farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa are primarily women but they own about 1% of land High levels of maternal mortality (Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia) Control of women and girls sexuality; FGM Violence against women and girls Social norms are a key barrier to women‟s advancement throughout their life
    9. 9. KEY INSIGHTS WE HAVE GAINED: • Must address the structural underpinnings of gender-based discrimination • Transformation in gender relations requires an integrated approach – addressing changes in the four inter- related domains – avoiding “development silos” (DAWN) • Focusing on narrow indicators deflects attention away from social norms and structural discrimination • Macroeconomic environment plays in realizing social goals and objectives (Balakrishnan) • Gender equality goals must be embedded in a human rights framework; rights need to translate into enhanced capabilities (Kabeer) • Collective feminist action plays a major role in translating policies into reality on the ground (Htun and Weldon) • Accountability and transparency are key for ensuring commitments are realized
    10. 10. HOW DOES GENDER AT WORK HELP TO CHALLENGE AND CHANGE GENDER-BASED DISCRIMINATION? • We Work On Systemic Change Not Piecemeal Projects • We Build The Power Of Individuals To Engage In Sustained Collective Action To Shift Behavior And Biased Institutional Norms In Ways That Result In Tangible Benefits For Women Rights • We Help Organizations, systems, networks and movements to Uncover What Holds Gender Inequality In Place, How To Effectively Challenge Power And Transform Discriminatory Structures, Values And Ways Of Working. • We Facilitate Processes Of Reflection And Action That Are Owned By Organizations And That Lead To Decisions For Change • We Build Connections Between Internal Gender Activists And Their External Constituencies • We Build Grounded Knowledge About “What” Needs To Change? • We Develop And Share Approaches, Processes And Tools On “How” To Make Change Happen In Systems And Organizations
    11. 11. EXAMPLE 1: DALIT WOMEN‟S ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAM – G@W INDIA REALITY • Low Women‟s Participation (UP: 21% Women work force In MNREGA) • Poor Dalit Women Not Aware Of The Act And Its Provisions; No Information On How To Claim Entitlements • Work Is Manual Work Which Strengthen Gender Stereotypes; Semi-skilled Jobs Only Given To Men • No Facilities Provided At Worksite • No Social Accountability To Marginalized Populations POLICY • MNREGA Ensures 100 Days‟ Paid Employment To Each Rural Household Per Year • 33% Reservation For Women At Equal Wage Between Men And Women • Provision That The Applicant Can Claim For Unemployment Allowance • Safe Worksite Facilities Such As Providing Drinking Water, Shade, Childcare And Healthcare To Workers
    12. 12. RESULTS  30% increase in work days on baseline data  Strengthened women‟s right to food and livelihood security which they got to some extent as a result of their own advocacy and lobbying  Capacities of staff members of partner organizations built through regular inputs to ensure increase in knowledge and skills for effective implementation of the project  Change in individual and collective consciousness from the community level to the government machinery MNREGA authorities helped to achieve their target of minimum 60% disbursement of funds every 6 months  MNREGA had reserved 50% of all supervisor posts for women across all Indian states  Successfully challenging the gender and caste stereotyping
    13. 13. EXAMPLE 2: WOMEN FARM WORKERS – G@W SOUTH AFRICA • Sikhula Sonke – Women-led Trade Union Registered In 2004, Western Cape • Membership –, 5000 Women From >120 Farms • Committed To Democratic Principles -Being Member Controlled; The Empowerment Of All; The Unity Of Agricultural Workers And Dwellers; Community Involvement; And Collective Leadership. • Part Of Its Existence - To Challenge Gender Inequality • Western Cape Province, the area of South Africa with the biggest concentration of farm workers • The minimum wage for farmworkers is one of the lowest in South Africa‟s formal employment sector • Distinct gender division of labor • “Dop system” • Agricultural workers very difficult to organize
    14. 14. DEEP STRUCTURE OF THE TRADE UNION • Ingrained Gender And Patriarchal Norms In Women Means That They Don't Believe They Can Hold Leadership Positions; They Know Only A Culture Of Power Imbalance And Prejudice. • Within This Context, SS Tired To Encourage Women's Democratic Leadership And Create An Inclusive Organizational Culture That Is Member-driven; • Enable Women To Learn How To Make Decisions, How To Deal With Conflict, How To Respect Each Other. • Problems With Alcoholism • Problems With Sustaining A Culture That Supports Nondiscrimination Against Women, Including Ethical Sexual Conduct Between Employees And Members • Problems With Negotiating Power And Managing Tensions Between Staff And Officials
    15. 15. HOW WE WORKED •Invited Sikula Sonke Together With 3 Organizations To Participate In 18 Month Action Learning Program With Peers •3-4 Members From Each Organization Formed The „Change Team‟ •Organizations Developed Their Own Change Objectives •G@W Helped The Organizations Reflect On Changes Achieved; How And Why •G@W Organized Writing Workshops Which Allowed Participants To Deepen Their Analysis And Reflect On & Built A Sense Of Personal Power
    16. 16. RESULTS• Personal Level: E.G. Understanding How Personal Change Is Fundamentally Necessary For Farm Worker Women To Become Powerful Union Leaders; How Important It Was For Leaders To Practice What They Preach. • Improvements In Their Lives • Relationship Between Farmers And Workers Was Improving • Union Membership Was Growing; Changes In Union Culture • Domestic Violence Was Decreasing • Broader Issues Of Discrimination Such As Xenophobia, Homophobia, And HIV Were Being Tackled
    17. 17. WHAT DO YOU THINK?