WORLD CIVIC FORUM Role of Higher Education for Civic Enhancement “ The Dignity of Women and Social Responsibility” WFWP Germany May 7, 2009 COEX Seoul, Korea
Government actions and decisions
The paramount challenge for the EU in the next years will be to improve the economic situation in the acceding countries.
Especially for Germany, it is important to stop pseudo marriages because the ‘so-called’ husbands take the money and the women go empty-handed.
Working permission for female dancers should only be granted after having scrutinised the working place.
Effective protection of witnesses and victims, residence permission for victims.
Therefore education of the woman in the poorer parts of the EU is important inclusive establishing Hotlines.
Waking the sensitivity of the punters (suitors, Johns), so that they become aware of their responsibility toward the fate of the victims.
Creating Awareness of Human Dignity
One of the most important means of prevention is the creation of an awareness of dignity in society, especially regarding the dignity of women.
Women`s degradation through the Media
The view of woman is distorted and she is degraded merely to the role of sexual object.
This has nothing to do with how the equality of women has been publicised in our society.
If we continue to tolerate this type of misuse of the female body, we open the door to violence against women and offend the very dignity of woman.
The misuse of the woman’s body and the degradation of sexuality in media are just the beginning of the most common human rights violation in the world today - the abuse of women.
Prostitution Pornography Sexualised Advertisement Domestic violence Trafficking of women
What does “Dignity” mean?
Maria Fernanda, Trafficking-Victim from Colombia, reports:
“ I started living on the streets when I was 11 years old – my father threw my brother and me out of the house. He never worried about us – he was always taking alcohol mixed with drugs. On the streets, I met prostitution and crime. One always dreams about being somebody, and that having material things makes you somebody. I never imagined that by wanting to improve my living conditions, I was going to end up losing my dignity.”
Definition of Dignity
The first to have formulated the term ‘dignity of the human being’ was the Renaissance philosopher, Pico della Mirandola.
In his ‘De hominis dignitate’ (“On the dignity of the human being” 1486/87), he shows that man is free to determine his nature, according to his own will.
“ What an admirable happiness of the human being to whom it is given, to have what he desires and to be what he wishes to be.” Pico della Mirandola
“ We are free; we can fly, wherever we want and be what we are…..” Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
“ Man honours the dignity of humanity through his/her own person, has the right to experience respect given to him/her by others and is, in turn, obliged to respect the humanity in those nearest to him…”
Dignity dwells within each person It is important to grant dignity - value and self respect - first to myself and to be free of any doubt concerning it. Dignity is immanent, an innate aspect of humans, independent from any other characteristics such as age, intelligence, abilities and sex. Dignity therefore is within us from the very beginning of life.
Dignity as feature as commission Christian teaching of a human being in the image of God Idea of ethical autonomy of people (Enlightenment/ I. Kant) Directed to the individual Directed to society All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. ´(HRD) The Dignity of human beings cannot be violated. It is to be respected and protected by all government institutions. (German Constitution) The moral strength to practise self-discipline comes from freedom of spirit, and is a virtue called Dignity. Dignity has various degrees, grace and beauty are called Noble and when it borders on awe, it will be called Sovereign or Majestic when grace is "magical“. (Friedrich Schiller about Grace and Dignity-1793) The dignity of human beings is inviolable. It is the duty of all governmental institutions, to respect and protect it. (Article 1 UD of HR)
Declaration of Human Rights
From the Preamble
Recognition of the inherent dignity and equal inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,...
The peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,..
Resolution 217A (III) of Dec. 10, 1948, General Assembly of the United Nations
Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights . They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the status of the country to which a person belongs.
Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person
Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equa l protection against any discrimination that violates the Declaration.
Why are these laws and resolutions necessary ?
Why is it still important to speak about equality of gender?
A brief look at how the awareness of women’s dignity was lost
Palaeolithic culture centering on women and 8000 years of city cultures based on partnership of men and women with a high developed standard.
These cultures came to an end in 2000 BC with the wave of invasions by Indo-European pastoral tribes.
The power to take life was considered to be higher than the power to give life .
History is viewed from a clearly male perspective
Women are generally depicted as intriguers, troublemakers or power-hungry rulers.
The beauty of a woman was demonised as dangerous and seductive for men.
Greek philosophers claimed that men were human beings in the fullest sense; women were deficient, the result of spoilt sperm.
For Aristotle, women’s only purpose was to produce children.
The teachings of Jesus
The teachings of Jesus Christ brought the beginnings of equal rights for women.
He shocked religious authorities declaring that Jews, Greeks, servants, free persons, men, women are all spiritually equal.
In early Christianity, women held high management positions. Gatherings often took place in the houses of female followers.
However, Jesus’ insight that our spiritual development would lead, through a new values system that included female rights, to a fundamental change in society, could not be accepted by the authorities.
St. Augustine adopted the tradition of Neo-Platonism; man stands over woman as the soul over the body, the higher over the lower.
Thomas of Aquinas adopted the views of Aristotle.
Tertullian (200 years after Christ) accused women of being responsible for sin and temptation, that humankind was destined to die because of them.
During the dark centuries of the Inquisition, the “Hammer of Witches” in 1487 degraded women into imperfect animals.
As late as 1910, Max Funke, German philosopher, wrote a book in which he wished to prove that women are not human beings.
Fortunately, there were also men who defended the dignity of women. In the Middle Ages an outstanding champion of the rights of women was Friedrich von Spee. He fought against the eradication of witches at the risk of his life.
What have women themselves done to protect their value and their dignity?
Christine de Pizan
The Venetian theologian and author Christine de Pizan (1405) wrote in her book, the City of Women , about women’s history in theology, which has been continuously hushed up.
“ The deeds of women are ladders which lead to heaven.”
The Women´s Movement
Since the 19th century, the women’s movement, with different waves of feminism have contributed towards regaining the awareness of women’s dignity.
Christine de Pizan
Hildegard von Bingen
Elisabeth von Thüringen
Annamaria von Schürmann
Olympe de Gouges
Harriet Beecher – Stowe
Bertha von Suttner
Rigoberta Menchú Tum
Yoo, Kwan Soon
Sim, Sa Im Dang
Great women in history who were a source of hope for others
Still the road ahead is long, to restore the awareness of the original value of the woman, to the home of the human family.
This is the background of the campaign “Dignity of Women.”
The main focus is educational, an effort to sensitize society to everything that is violating women’s dignity.
As women, we cannot stand by and witness the degradation of our dignity.
We can change attitudes only if we ourselves are aware of our inherent dignity, and can pass on this awareness through education at all levels. Thank you!
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