Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Urgent Need to Equalize the Treatment of Women on a Global Scale

Lawrence R. Gelber

The urgent need to Equalise the Treatment of Women
and Girls
I must disclose, at the outset, that I have a selfish interest in promoting the equal treatment of girls and women.  My wife and I operate the I Declare World Peace project in New York City.  Our research about world peace has led us to the inescapable conclusion that unless girls and women are treated and respected on an equal par with boys and men, peace will be almost impossible to attain. With equalized respect, peace can manifest.          

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  In the preamble, the UN, which represents the collective consciousness of humanity, wrote the following: “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”  So the human family, the entire population of the world, has expressed the easy-to-understand observation that the inherent dignity of all people is the foundation of peace in the world.           

Sadly, through either misapplication of “tradition” or misreading of “scripture” or more insidious forms of misogyny, our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, nieces – the very souls that bring us into life and nurture our existence – have been relegated in many societies to a status below that afforded to our fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, grandfathers and nephews.  This inequality poses a grave danger to the entire human family.           

At the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China in September 1995, UNESCO issued a Statement on Women's Contribution to a Culture of Peace, in which it was observed:  “Girls and women constitute a large majority of the world's educationally excluded and unreached. Ensuring equality of educational access and opportunity between the sexes is a prerequisite for achieving the changes of attitudes and mind-sets on which a culture of peace depends."

And indeed, in a statistical report titled “Pillars of Peace” issued by the Institute for Economics and Peace, known for the well-respected Global Peace Index (GPI), the authors report that  the Institute for Social Studies’ ‘Gender Equality’ index was “associated with the 2013 GPI, suggesting that higher levels of gender equality are linked with peace. (My emphasis). The strength of the association was found to be broadly consistent across geographical regions, regime types and income levels.”       

In fact, according to the GPI, the 10 most peaceful countries are Iceland, Denmark, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Canada, Sweden and Belgium. In contrast, the 10 least peaceful countries are Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, Dem. Rep of Congo, Russia, North Korea and the Central African Republic.  And while multiple reasons play into peacefulness / non-peacefulness, it is quite clear that the equality of the sexes (with respect to treatment, educational opportunity, job opportunity, social opportunity and so forth) is far higher in the peaceful countries, and largely abysmal in the non-peaceful countries.

So for the safety, well-being, growth, health and prosperity of the entire human family, the elevation of girls and women to equal status and equal treatment of boys and men is of urgent and paramount importance, and all efforts in that direction should be strongly encouraged not only by governments but by every human being.

Lawrence R. Gelber is a lawyer living in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Rita. Lawrence & Rita operate the I Declare World Peace project, described at