Thursday, March 03, 2005

Equality Now Please

A woman cannot vote in Kuwait. She cannot drive in Saudi Arabia. She is barred from working on military submarines in Britain, and she is not allowed to work at night in Bolivia except as a nurse or public servant. In Pakistan, if a woman is raped she must have four Muslim adult male witnesses to secure justice, failing which she may herself be considered guilty of fornication.

(Meryl Streep, speaking for Equality Now)

In the old days, I used to teach a senior high school course on global issues. A major issue, of course, was global disparity: the wealth of the northern, developed nations compared to the relative poverty of southern, developing nations.

One aspect of the issue that I would touch upon was the role of female literacy in development. From what we were able to deduce, female literacy is critical to the wealth and development of a nation. For one thing, the boys hate to left behind, and if a country or a community takes steps to draw girls into school and set them on the road the literacy, then the boys will follow — if they aren't already there.

I would have my student produce a map that compared the ratio of female-to-male literacy in the world's countries. It would reveal the countries in which the female literacy rate was equivalent to males and the countries where it was not.

It was stark. The most developed countries showed literary equality while the least developed countries showed that females were lagging far behind — even if male literacy, itself, was low. In short, there is a correlation between female literacy and a country's level of development. In fairness, there are multitudinous factors that account for development, but there is no denying that this is one.

According to the above quote pulled from this article, and with all respect to Bob Dylan, the times they a not a'changin.

The Equality Now Website



Loner said...

Here in the states we have our own little secret - it is called and Indian Reservation- people who live there live under government control through the use of government funds, government housing and Welfare. The disparity among the haves and have nots is astonishing. When I worked on the Navajo reservation just three years ago, over half my patients did not have electricity or running water. Women have rights - but the disparity of what is done for women versus what is done for men is glaring. Way too many 14-year old mothers who never are able to become anything more than single mothers struggling. You are right that something has to be done - but for we Americans, we need too look in our own backyard first!

Anvilcloud said...

That's a very appropriate comment. It could very well be true of our own reserves as well.

Although it doesn't address female literacy per se, Barbara Kingsolver's novel, Pigs in Heaven deals with some American native issues quite well. I recommend it.

Norma said...

Blog "Discarded Lies" also commented on the story of the village-elder-ordered rape of the Pakistani woman on March 4.

Link is long:

As far as the Indian Reservations, they are a law unto themselves living within a lawful society in which they could choose to live. They are an example of cradle to the grave care run amuck.

Anvilcloud said...

I have a lot of sympathy for the plight of native peoples. In Canada, we herded them into reservations often breaking promises and treaties along the way. We haven't done well by them at all. We need to keep promises and make amends first and can worry about the wisdom and future of reservations after we have treated them well and honourably for a day or two.

Of course, that's just my opinion. But, of course I'm right!