SEATTLE — Despite massive progress, women’s rights remains a critical issue throughout the world, especially in regions like North Africa and the Middle East. Women are confronted with a systematic denial of rights where legal discrimination leaves them inferior to their male counterparts. Consequently, women globally lack a full realization of their fundamental human rights. Learning about this problem reveals that gender equality is central to sustainable progress. These are ten examples of gender inequality existing in the world today.
1. Lack of Mobility
Women are forbidden to drive in Saudi Arabia, despite numerous protests, and must rely on their fathers or husbands to get from place to place. In countries like Egypt and Bahrain, husbands have the right to stop their wives from leaving the country while other countries require written permission from a husband to travel.
Sources: Discovery, List Verse, Says
2. Freedom of Marriage
According to the U.N., 40 percent of young women in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are married by age 18. Child marriage not only increases the chance of complications of giving birth that often prove fatal, but also contravenes the fundamental human right of choice of partnership. In Pakistan, women are expected to accept arranged marriages and refusal can lead to “honor killings” that typically go uncontested by the government.
Sources: Discovery, Says, Advocates for Youth, Girls Not Brides
Photo: NBC News
3. Discriminatory Divorce Rights
In most of the Middle East, countries are governed by religious ideals and gender inequality is pervasive. As men are typically viewed as superior, they can divorce their wives relatively easily and even through mere oral renunciation. Women, on the other hand, face many more challenges. In Lebanon, abused women do not even have the right to file for divorce unless an eyewitness is willing to testify.
Sources: List Verse, Creating a Road Home
Photo: Bulletin of the Oppression of Women
With the exception of Israel, Iran, Tunisia, and parts of Egypt, women in the Middle East do not have the right to pass citizenship on to their children while men have the ability to not only pass it to their children, but also to their non-national wives.
Sources: List Verse, MERIP
5. Frontline Combat
While allowed to participate in the army, women are still not permitted to serve in frontline combat in Turkey and Slovakia. As recently as 2016, this gender inequality persisted in the U.K. as well.
Photo: The Spectator
6. Custody Rights
In some countries, the courts automatically grant custody rights to the father, and women are left without any means of financial support. For example, in Bahrain, family laws are not systematized, enabling judges to deny mothers custody of their children.
Sources: List Verse, Creating a Road Home
Unequal legal rights make women increasingly vulnerable to violence. One of the most obvious forms of violence against women in the world today is that of spousal rape. India’s recent ruling that rape laws do not apply to married couples clearly illustrates the sexual subjugation and violence to which women remain exposed.
Sources: List Verse, Advocates for Youth, Borgen Magazine
Photo: Policy Mic
8. Professional Obstacles
Even in developed countries, women are at a disadvantage when it comes to earnings. The highest-paying fields are still dominated by men, and on average, women earn just 77 percent of what men earn for the same amount of work. At this rate, it could take a full 45 years before this gender inequality disappears.
Sources: Discovery, Says, Huffington Post
9. Restricted Land Ownership
In some countries, customary or religious law effectively prohibits the ownership of land by females, even if their constitution claims equal rights. In many countries like North Sudan, Tanzania, and Lesotho, land ownership and control tends to go to the male head of the household. In Zambia, women and men are allowed to acquire a registered land title, but customary land tenure is also recognized making it unlikely for a woman to be allocated land without the approval of her husband.
Sources: Discovery, Says, USAID
10. Access to Education
Women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults, and access to education is especially a problem in Afghanistan where groups that oppose female education attack many schools. Female rights are also compromised due to limited awareness of what they should be entitled to, which could only be remedied through greater access to education.
Sources: Discovery, List Verse, Says, Do Something, UN Women 1
Photo: The Guardian
Feature Photo: Intel For Change