Equality and justice for women

by Fr. Shay Cullen

“Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing+20 Review” | Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons by UN Women/Pornvit Visitoran

There are millions of strong women of mind and heart who have achieved personal freedom, found success and achievement by their determination and courage to thwart the insults and hindrance of males who continue to cling to the notoriously ridiculous notion that they are superior to women and should have more power, positions, privileges, and higher pay. This attitude of male dominance poses one of the greatest challenges to women in fighting for equality and justice in the world today. Women are among the most successful business people globally, and working mothers work hard and long hours for little pay to support millions of single-mother families. Penguins are more faithful husbands than many men.

The abandoned working women bravely struggle to survive with their children. This week, we found Jemma, one 35-year-old mother of seven small children whose 13-year-old child was sexually abused by her third live-in partner. She is uneducated and must work as a live-in house help for a rich family and leave her kids with a neighbor, hungry and neglected.

They will provide help now. On the factory floor but in the highest level of business management, women are not only conspicuously absent, but they are on average paid less than men doing the same job. The BBC China editor Carrie Gracie quit over a pay dispute when it revealed that she was being paid much less than her male counterparts. A culture of gender inequality was at work, she said. A finding later revealed that men are being paid 9.3 percent more than women.

“Women have achieved great triumphs in sports and endurance achievements. I mentioned recently the young 22-year-old English woman who recently rowed a boat single-handedly across the Atlantic in 70 days.”

Women have achieved great triumphs in sports and endurance achievements. I mentioned recently the young 22-year-old English woman who recently rowed a boat single-handedly across the Atlantic in 70 days. In tennis, unequal gender pay was and still is notorious. It was not until the famous tennis champion Billie Jean King said she would boycott the 1973 US Open Grand Slam unless the prize money was equal to that of the men. She won and the male-dominated sports surrendered and the organizers capitulated. At the Miami Open championship, King said, “Everyone thinks women should be thrilled when we get crumbs, and I want women to have the cake, the icing, and the cherry on top, too.”

The All-England Lawn Tennis Championships or Wimbledon, another Grand Slam, did not pay equal prize money until a fracas and protest arose that forced organizers to close the gender prize money gap and only in 2007 at that.

In a reversal of the equal pay policy in 2015 at a tennis tournament in Ohio, the prize money for the women’s singles crown winner was less than that of the men’s titlist.

Roger Federer was paid $731,000 while Serena Williams received only $495,000.

“Today, the struggle and campaign for equality, rights, respect, and human dignity of women goes on because women’s rights are not universally respected. They have become stronger, more vocal, and empowered in recent years, where the exposure of abuse is on the center stage with the #MeToo movement and the successful campaigns against child sexual abuse.”

Today, the struggle and campaign for equality, rights, respect, and human dignity of women goes on because women’s rights are not universally respected. They have become stronger, more vocal, and empowered in recent years, where the exposure of abuse is on the center stage with the #MeToo movement and the successful campaigns against child sexual abuse. In past years, it was taboo; the no-talk culture of silence has instilled fear in almost every woman and child who suffered abuse. It is only many years later that a man or woman finds the strength and opportunity to speak out. It is usually when one brave soul all steps up and complains.

We must allow women and children to tell their truth and share their story and give help and support. Everyone with a heart and compassion for the abused must also be strong and open to accept and understand, ready to listen and believe the story and complaint. Public-awareness campaigns are vital to change the public’s attitude to realize massive women and child abuse, especially at this time of the Covid-19 pandemic when many are forced to live in lockdowns.

“Women must be empowered economically by having skills training and small-business opportunities and thus take control over their lives. Women’s economic power is essential for changing the inequality and the injustice in societies where women are mistreated and regulated to a lower status than males.”

In 2017, the National Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority said 1 in every 4 Filipino women and children aged 4 to 5 had experienced physical, emotional, or sexual violence by their abusers or husband or partner. A female victim of child sexual abuse left untreated leaves the child traumatized, to grow up in fear of rape and sexual abuse. That is why intervention, protection, healing, and empowerment therapy are so important. At every level of social status — rich, middle class, poor — besides formal education, there must be additional human rights training for boys and girls from the earliest age in human dignity and equality. Women must be empowered economically by having skills training and small-business opportunities and thus take control over their lives. Women’s economic power is essential for changing the inequality and the injustice in societies where women are mistreated and regulated to a lower status than males.

Money talks, and in community-based Grameen loaning schemes, women are mostly given the loans. They are considered stronger, more reliable to pay back, and wiser in using the loans and caring for the children’s needs. Having money empowers women and gives them status and respect in the community and their families. The education of boys and men in values to respect girls and women is vital. They must be taught that their own value and dignity as a human being and role in family and society are rooted in the respect for females’ dignity. We need to act by having a gentle, friendly chat with children asking if anything bad ever happened to them, and offering to help them if it had. Listening with affirmation and understanding is opening a door for a child to share her story of abuse. Then, get help immediately. You can call or text information to Philippine number +63 917 532 4453 or email me at shaycullen@gmail.com. We will direct immediate help wherever the child is and get professional help to him or her. All must do their part to save abused women and children.

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