Throughout history, all aspects of the society, from political, social to financial, have been controlled by men. This has left women to play a subordinate role in the society, hence forcing them to be depended on their men companion for virtually everything. Their weak nature coupled with lack of all forms of resources has put women vulnerable to abuse by their male counterparts. Despite their differences in terms of age, race and geographical location, women have lived in a society where they lack fundamental control over their own bodies. Thousands, if not millions of women of all ages as well as races, have been subjected to unimaginable abuse during peaceful as well as war times. Most of these abuses have been shown to be organized, unyielding as well as explicitly disregarded (human rights watch, 2009). For instance, millions of young girls are being sold as prostitutes; women are being forced into marriages at their tender age, young girls are being forced into female genital mutilation, and girls are being denied basic education among other forms of abuse.
These abuses have been witnessed even after the enactment of universal declaration of human rights act in 1948 by the United States in addition to enactment of various legislations aimed at alleviating this inhuman treatment of women throughout history as well as throughout the globe. In the context of this declaration, all human beings have rights in terms of torture, slavery, work, health, religion, culture, education among others without discrimination in terms of gender, race, sex, colour language among others (Bunch & Frost, 2000). This declaration as well as other related declarations has failed to ensure women’s rights as part of the human race. The major reason for the failure of these legislations to ensure women human rights is the fact that most of these legislations have been fundamentally developed by men in the male-oriented society hence there is need to interpret them in a gender-sensitive that is responsive to women’s experiences of injustices (Bunch & Frost, 2000). Understanding the meaning of the term ‘Women Human rights,’ is of paramount importance in given my opinion in this subject.
Bunch and Frost (2000) defines the term “Women human rights” as the constantly developing product of international movement to better the status of women throughout the world. According to the people’s movement for human rights education (2010) women are human beings hence as human beings they have human rights. “The 1980s and 1990s witnessed the mushrooming of women coalitions as well as movements aimed at sensitizing the world on problems, in terms of social, political, economical and environmental issues, facing women throughout the world” (Bunch & Frost, 2000). This concept provides a universal agenda for developing concrete strategies and an enormous of visions for change.
Nonetheless, numerous human rights of great importance for women’s rights have in recent years received renewed attention as well as obtained their long-term-deserved attention hence moving to the centre of international human rights agenda. The rights of women have become a primary concern of the regional organizations and the United Nations, which have been enacted with the aim of protecting and promoting human rights. The dawdling historical progression from disregard towards the recognition of the rights of women as a central part of international human rights law realized its zenith at the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights where more than 180 governments adopted the Vienna Declaration and program of action. Other earlier legislations that played a significant role in promoting women human rights include the United Nations convention on elimination of all kinds of discrimination against women (CEDAW), which came into action in 1979 (United Nations populations Population Fund, 2010). This convention proclaims that women have the right of being free from any form of bigotry and clearly defines the fundamental principles meant to protect this right. It also provides mechanism for government action to eradicate discrimination in addition to providing for the basis for realising equality between the two sexes via ensuring unbiased access to all forms of opportunities including healthy, education, job opportunities and political opportunities among others.
Unlike earlier declarations by the United Nations like the UDHR as well as the Teheran Declaration of 1968 which set forth human rights concepts in gender-neutral terms, the 1968 Vienna Declaration embodied the idea of substantive equality and made overt reference to different forms of women’s rights. Bunch and Frost (2000) states that “ the integration of women’s lives and perspectives into human rights practices and standards forces recognition of dreary failure of governments throughout the world to accord women the respect and human dignity they deserve for being part and parcel of humanity.” They also point out that the marginalisation of women in universal human rights is a clear indicator of gender disparities throughout the globe and has negatively affected women’s lives.
Despite all these efforts among others that have not been mentioned here, abuse of women are increasing at an alarming rate, especially in conflict prone areas like Congo and Darfur where cases of rape have been reported. Hence there is need for more governments not only to implement the current legislations to the letter but to also enact more laws the deals with all forms of abuse to the family level.
Bunch, C. & Frost, S. (2000). Women’s Human Rights: an introduction. Routledge international encyclopaedia of women. New York, NY: Routledge. Web.
Human rights watch. (2009). Women’s rights. Web.
People’s Movement for Human rights Education. (2010). Human rights and women. Web.
United Nations Population Fund. (2010). The human rights of women. Web.