Recognize rights of women
The Minority Report
In the whirlwind that is both our domestic politics and international relations, we witness many matters of injustice and inequality that need to be addressed at a governmental level. We rightly — and clearly insufficiently — recognize the difficulties of people of different colors, backgrounds and religions. Quite often, however, we fail to recognize the challenges of the largest minority of all — women.
Despite its lack of media attention, last month hosted two very important weeks for the global community, the 56th session of the Committee on the Status of Women. Women from all over the world, representing countless cultures and languages, convene every year to discuss and address issues facing women around the globe. I have had the unique privilege of being a delegate to this year’s session, and it is thus far one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
The CSW has astutely decided to focus this year’s session on addressing the rights and well-being of rural women. As a segment of our global society that is overwhelmingly overlooked, rural women not only face some of the greatest gender inequalities, but also harbor tremendous potential in revolutionizing societies and economies the world over. By suppressing this population, we are holding back our humanity from reaching its utmost abilities.
It is a sad reality that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls, and countries with the highest levels of poverty are also the countries with the highest levels of gender inequality. While rural women in less developed countries make up 50 percent of the agricultural labor force, they are greatly deprived of the same productive resources as their male counterparts. If they were allowed equal access to these resources, UN Women estimates that the women’s increased contribution to farm production could skyrocket 30 percent, taking 150 million people out of hunger.
The powerful female leaders at the CSW recognize these facts and countless other realities facing rural women, and have taken it upon themselves to collaborate with worldwide organizations in drafting resolutions to address these problems. I’ve witnessed these women address the committee with powerful speeches regarding the violence rural women have to face, the unequal treatment they are subject to and their relentless solidarity with the plight of women all over the world. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee even gave an incredible address to the delegates reminding us of the incredible power of the CSW and the importance of safeguarding rural women’s rights in our world.
It has also been extremely valuable witnessing the leading role the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, part of the School of Arts and Sciences, in the CSW. The CWGL has hosted a number of parallel events for the CSW, addressing topics like the violence that rural women have to face in their day-to-day lives, as well as co-sponsored countless events in collaboration with international non-governmental organizations. Seeing the incredible participation and power of women I work with has filled me with pride and inspired me to aim higher in the global struggle for women’s equality.
Yet, with all the promise of the CSW, it was a shocker when the committee sessions concluded with no unanimous resolution. Even in the middle of all the negotiations and awareness-raising that occurred, at the end the committee remained fragmented on sexual and reproductive rights of women. This is a clear testament to how conflicted this issue remains for different cultures in the world and raises the question of whether a consensus can ever be reached on the topic.
Women make up half of our global society. Knowing this, it is impossible for an individual society to truly progress without raising the place of its women and safeguarding their rights completely. Despite the CSW’s lack of a resolution this year, I am still filled with hope that one day, this dream will become a reality.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in Middle Eastern studies and political science with a minor in French. Her column, “The Minority Report,” runs on alternate Wednesdays.