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Monday, March 14, 2005

What women want

by Ma. Eleanor E. Valeros
March 14, 2005
posted at www.thefreeman.com

March 8 was International Women’s Day.

The celebration brought back memories of my stint as a junior writer for Women’s Feature Service, the only all-women international news service offering a unique insight into women’s minds.

In one of WFS’ fora, I recalled a discussion that was more of a dissection of a woman’s three components – the child in her, the adult in her, and the parent in her. All three components are greatly challenged by multifarious issues — from empowerment, education, and work opportunity, to exercising her 12 reproductive rights.

What do women really want?

We, women certainly want empowerment through complete and correct information on practically all issues, as all issues are women issues. This would allow for respect, if not totally ignored. Our voices, viewpoints, and experiences – especially that of the handicapped, the indigenous, the marginalized – must find a voice so that we could participate in public discussion of issues that could shape our future.

In a group meet, we talked of a United Nations study that revealed women constitute one-half of the world’s population, perform two-thirds of the work but are registered as performing only one-third of the actual work. Women receive only 10 percent of the world’s income and have one percent of the world’s property registered to our name.

The second issue is on the global feminization of poverty. In the global state, women are the workers and squatters. Women produce half of the world’s food, yet constitute 70 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion absolute poor.

Women’s wages are generally only three-quarters of men’s wages in the non-agriculture sector. Made worse, women receive only a very small percentage of credit from credit institutions.

When it comes to education, simple literacy rate for male is 98.5 percent as compared to 98.9 for women.

The top three cases on violence against women are wife battering, physical injury, rape/attempted rape, and acts of lasciviousness.

Employment rate for women is 90.3 as compared to men’s 91.5 percent; while unemployment is slightly higher for women at 9 percent.

There are more women in government service, but most heads of the regional line agencies are males. Publishers, editors, and station managers are again mostly men.

Above all, what women really want in the Internet age is to finally exercise her 12 reproductive health rights without fear of being gagged by a certain religious belief or ideology.

These reproductive health rights are universally accepted and allow individuals to grow to their full potential as positive and active members of society.

Women would want to exercise her Right to Life. This means, among other things, that no woman’s life should be put at risk by reason of pregnancy and that no person’s life should be put at risk or endangered by reason of lack of access to healthcare services and/or information, counseling or service;

The Right to Equality, and to be Free from all Forms of Discrimination which acknowledges the right of women not to be discriminated against by way of legislation, regulation, customs, and practices, social and cultural patterns of conduct;

The Right to Privacy meaning that all sexual and reproductive healthcare services should be confidential, and all women have the right to autonomous reproductive choices;

The Right to Freedom of Thought which includes freedom from the restrictive interpretation of religious texts, beliefs, philosophies and customs as tools to curtail freedom of thought on reproductive rights healthcare and other issues;

The Right to Information and Education including access to full information on the benefits, risks, and effectiveness of all methods of fertility regulations, in order that all decisions taken are made on the basis of full, free and informed consent;

The Right to Choose whether or not to Marry and to Found and Plan a Family which includes the right of persons to protection against a requirement to marry without her consent and the right of access to RH healthcare services;

The Right to Decide Whether or When to have Children is all about the right of persons to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of children and to have access to information and education;

The Right to Healthcare and Health Protection which includes the right of healthcare clients to the highest possible quality of healthcare, and the right to be free from traditional practices which are harmful and lead to death;

The Right to the Benefits of Scientific Progress that covers the right of Reproductive Health service clients to new RH technologies that are safe, effective, and acceptable;

The Right to Freedom of Assembly and Political Participation which includes the right of all persons to seek to influence communities and governments to prioritize RH and reproductive rights, and;

The Right to be Free from Torture and Ill Treatment which includes the right of women, men and young people not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; violence, sexual exploitation and abuse.

For your reactions, comments, suggestions and contributions, please crank up my addy: pinay_mangatkatay@yahoo.com.