There are places where education is banned for women, and these are usually where we find leaders such as Malala Yousafzai, who struggles for women’s rights for education. In New York City, for instance, self-defense classes for women have flourished due to women’s fear of being assaulted.
The problems women are facing all over the world are far from solved. This is why the United Nations held the “Stakeholders’ Forum: Challenges and Achievement in the Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls The Road Ahead”. This forum may serve as an introduction for the CSW58, which will deal with the same topic next year.
The most problematic for me was that among these six panels, greater importance in achieving the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) was given to sexual and reproductive rights. This upsets me since policy makers are not focusing on the real problem. These panels were intended to talk about women empowerment, gender equality, peace and security, development and poverty eradication, democracy and good governance, protection of the common environment and human rights always relating to women and girls and how to address these issues. Another disappointing thing about one of the panels was that when inquired by one of the delegates about what role men should have in order to achieve the women related MDGs, the panel did not give a substantial response.
However, there were good things during this forum; a Peruvian girl stated that custom measures should be applied depending of the context of every one of the groups. An American girl shared how women are affected in the US by winning less money than what a man would do in the same job. An Afghan lady also shared her experience on how she had to leave her country and move to the US as a refugee. She has already moved back to somehow change this reality in her country, in which a woman’s value is seen as merely half of what a man is worth. Many other personal experiences were shared and were signs of obvious obstacles women face.
With that stated, I think that different measures need to be taken in order to achieve the MDGs. But most of the input given by the United Nations Women Executive Director was that sexual and reproductive rights should be given greater importance in order to reach the development of women without explaining how these rights are even related to issues identified. This was just disappointing since I cannot understand how access to these rights will help women feel safe when they are homeless, uneducated, or underpaid.
The problem should be analyzed from a holistic point of view and should always be directed towards achieving integral human development. As one sole solution cannot be implemented, policy makers should take measures that would vary from place to place in order to reach development among all women worldwide.
By Manuel Soto Alday, a staff-in-training and next Director of WYA Latin America.