By Shreya Arora:
All the women across the globe have some or the other reason to cherish on March 8 every year, but there is one section of the world where the ladies have lesser reasons when compared to the rest. This region is the Middle East and the North Africa (MENA).
On one hand we have women like Shmt. Pratibha Patil, Hillary Clinton, Indra Nooyi, etc who have made their mark in all possible fields like Politics, Business, etc. and on the other, there are lakhs of women in this MENA region where women are denied as basic as the Right to Education.
Although in the recent times the scenario is changing. An 18-nation study, led by the US-based Freedom House, supports the statement. In the last five years, women participation in the major sectors like Education, Politics, Economics, has tremendously improved in 15 out of 18 nations.
Out of the 18 nations, there are a few who are making a major contribution to the aim of making life worth cherishing for their women nationals. These countries are Kuwait, where women won the right to vote in 2005; Algeria, where custodial mothers won recognition of their parental authority and proxy marriages were banned; and Jordan, which introduced increase penalties for so-called ‘honor crimes‘, in which a woman is murdered for having deviated from the so-called societal norms, by the relatives to preserve the family’s honor.
On the contradictory there are nations which still lack and these countries are Yemen, Iraq and other Palestinian nations where the women rights are in noticeable regression.
Not forgetting that a lot of efforts are being taken to improve the conditions, still there is an area where only two countries have made a significant advancement, and that is the right against Sexual Abuse, Harassment, and Domestic Violence. Jordan and Tunisia are the only nations covered by the study that were found to have established legal protections against domestic violence, but still none of the countries were found to explicitly prohibit spousal rape.
Significant powers like USA, UN are paying great attention towards giving women equal rights and this is quite evident from President Obama’s recent speech on ‘Women Rights in MENA’, during two fundraising events for the Democratic National Committee. He plans to give women equal job opportunities, equal pay, money for Planned Parenthood, etc. But the change has to come from within. Unless the said countries do not change their National Policies, no international NGO, Super Power, etc would be able to help.
Thus, it is time that the nations which fall under the MENA region follow the examples of countries like Algeria, Kuwait and Jordan, and provide women with rights that they deserve.