Friday-Sunday, 15-17 April 2016
There are two spheres. One sphere is sphere of concern and the other is sphere of influence. This sphere of concern is the biggest. It represents your concerns about so many things that sometimes overwhelmed you. As for the sphere of influence, it starts small. Your job is to make it bigger. To change that concerns into action and influence. – shared by a woman during the seminar that I attended.
Oppression of Women, Empowerment of Women. That is the topic of the seminar organized by STUBE Baden-Württemberg that I have attended.
OPPRESSION OF WOMEN
The first discussion that we had in this seminar was about women oppression in each of our country. Having sat together with people from Uganda, Kamerun, Bangladesh, and Nepal, my group was really international. I was supposed to start first. But what I could think at the moment was only sexual harassment against women, like raping. I know that is not the only problem that we have, but I was clueless. ‘Maybe you guys can start first and I’ll remember something while listening’, I said. They started and apparently the list were so many.
Oppression of Women in many countries
Having raised in a patriarchal family with only boys, I could not really relate to some points that my friends said. For example, ‘woman should do household works and not man’ was not the case for me. I used to help my mother with all these household works and so did my brothers. Another example, from the society, I see that my ethic group treats woman and man equally. There are times when they must serve (when their position is as ‘boru‘ in a ceremony), and there are also times when they are being served (when their position is as ‘paniaran‘ or ‘hula-hula‘ in a ceremony).
In summary, these are some examples of oppression of women that we discussed during the seminar:
- ‘May you be blessed with a hundred sons’ is often told to the bride. This was being shared by one of the speaker from India. She said that male child is considered as an asset, while female is a liability. Many reasons behind it and ‘dowry tradition‘ is one of it. This then leads to selective abortions, selective post-birth abandoning, or even murdering.
- Deficit of female for marriage that leads to ‘bride trafficking’ and ‘child marriages’ .
- Deep rooted social, religious, and cultural norms that serve to exclude women from receiving an education (or equal education like man).
- Sexual violence, like :
– Street harassment (groping, grabbing, rubbing, flashing or mooning, touching, pinching in a sexual way, sexual assault)
– Eve-teasing (sexually suggestive remarks, catcalls, lewd comments about girl’s body, sexual remarks or accusations, dirty jokes, songs or stories)
- Oppression in the way how women should dress, how they must have long and straight hair to be accepted by the society, and how they should get married before certain age limit, and many more…
Why did all these things happen? By taking example cases that happen in India, the speaker, Karuna G., concluded it as follow:
- Low status of women
- Sense of entitlement
- Incapability and restriction of interaction between men and women
- A lack of public safety (streets are poorly lit, no toilet facilities, no protection outside the home)
- Blaming provocative clothing
- Encouraging rape victims to compromise: compromise or even marry the rapist
Stigmatizing the victim: ‚morally loose‘: went out at night, went out alone, etc. -> it is not good if woman go out at night, or go out alone.
- Acceptance of domestic violence: A 2012 report by UNICEF found that 57 % of Indian boys & 53 % of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 think wife-beating is justified
- Few female police: in New Delhi only 7% are women
- AND, unfortunately women are often conditioned and encouraged to adhere to the patriarchal norms by other women
Even though she speaks about India, these reasons are also true for many cases that happen in many other countries. They may not yet all, but they certainly the most obvious.
EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN
The speaker, Dr. Rita Schäfer, divided us into three groups with each group becomes the point of a triangle with its individual function.
women empowerment triangle
ECONOMY -> For example, how the budget for infrastructure should be gender equal, like to include budget for CCTVs or street lights so women feel safe to walk on the street at night.
PARTICIPATION -> For example, how a quota of women who sits in parliament or government should exist.
INCREASING self reliance, self motivation, respect, and self esteem.
Then, inside the group, we discussed all women empowerment that have taken place in each of our country and share it with each other. There were many and still many more need to be done. As Karuna G. said in her presentation, what is needed is ‘change in women‘s attitude towards themselves and other women’ AND ‘change in patriarchal (male and female) mentality through awareness’.
On closing the women empowerment session, a PhD student, Aurelia, took over and asked this intriguing question which then led to a very active discussion : If a woman comes to you (a man) and said that she likes you, what would you think?
She said that in Tanzania this woman would be either considered crazy or a prostitute. But then, wouldn’t that be oppression against women?