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Women rights are freedoms which are institutionalized to all the females in the world who are of all ages and cultures (Moyn, 2010, p.3). These rights may be administered in a society through law, practices, culture, customs, behavior and believes. Women rights do vary from one place to another in the world in that in some places they experience minimal rights and freedoms while in others they experience most of these rights and freedoms.
In many societies of the world, the rights of women have been suppressed as compared to the rights of men. In most cases the rights of women which are mainly suppressed include the right to own property, the right to work or hold a public office, the right of receiving education, the right to vote and participate in politics, rights regarding to marriage and so on.
Due to the discrimination that was laid against them, women together with other humanitarians have struggled over the years to be treated with respect and as the equals of men within the society. As a result many women partnerships and organizations have been formed as Non Governmental Organizations which assist in the fighting of women rights.
These organizations are present all over the world and have achieved a lot in terms of earning women the rights which they are owed by the society. This paper will focus on the basic human right, women rights and finally focus on a Non Governmental Organization on women partnerships for rights and development of peace.
Basic human rights
Human rights are the freedoms which an individual is deemed to receive from the society, state and the entire world just by the mere fact that that particular individual is human is alive (Moyn, 2010, p. 8). These rights are universal hence they are applicable all over the world.
These rights are seen as general norms in the society and are supported by either national or international statutes or laws for their application. Although the term human rights are of recent origin, the ideology has been present since early civilization in the concepts of philosophy and natural law especially in the ancient cities of Rome and Greece.
The fight for human rights was strongly started in the 1970`s by socialists from Europe, United States of America and Latin America. It first emerged as a critique or resistance of totalitarianism and dictatorship political leadership regimes to support humanitarian, social and economical welfare of individuals and the society in the 21st century especially in third world countries (Moyn, 2010, p. 9).
The basic ideologies of the movement were developed after the end of World War 2 where they adapted the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) that was formulated in 1948 by the UN general assembly.
The ideology of fighting for human rights has been present in the society for a long time now. In Europe the first evidence of fighting for human rights came out in 1525 during the signing of the Twelve Articles in Germany between the peasants and the Swabian League as a result of the German Peasant War where the peasants raised their grievances. Philosophers joined in too later on in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Examples of philosophers who fought for human rights included Thomas Piane, William Loyd and G.W.F Hegel. In the 19th century there was a great concern about the status of human rights with regards to slavery. This was because slaves were seen as if they did not have any rights or freedom and their sole purpose in life is to work for their masters.
As a result, a lot of philosophers during this period thought that it was a high time that slavery should come to an end. Among them was William Wilberforce who worked tirelessly to see ensure that slavery come to an end. His efforts bore fruits because slavery was stopped in Europe and North America during that time.
In the 20th century, many groups and movements have been established to fight for the rights of humans. Trade unions have been formed in almost all the countries in the world to fight for the welfare of workers. They have achieved to negotiate better pay for the employees, conducive working conditions and the abolition of child labor.
Groups which have been advocating for women rights have succeeded especially after women were allowed to vote and get education. There were also liberation movements which fought hard to ensure that their countries are free from colonial rule.
Currently, there are many movements, groups and organizations that work to ensure that human rights are respected all over the world with each continent having a unique body that ensures this. The human rights and freedoms which are being protected include the right to own property, the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to vote, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of movement and so on. At the moment there are new rights which have been introduced due to the dynamic nature of life.
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They include the right to future generations which is concerned with the sustainable use of resources so that future generations can also enjoy them, the right to water to all individuals and lastly the gay, lesbian and transsexual rights which relates to the sexuality status of an individual.
These movements which have been established to fight for human rights have come into being as a result of inequality in the society (Moyn, 2010, p. 12). This is because over time there are some individuals in the society who have felt to be more superior as compared to others. This can be as a result of social status, power, sex, wealth or intellectuality. As a result they feel that they are superior to other individuals in the society hence they should have more rights. This has been the case in many societies in the world.
It is however sad that in some societies the trend is still going on. For instance in many developing countries women are viewed as the weaker sex in the society. As a result they are denied certain essential rights by the society which would have otherwise made their life to be better. Women have for a long time been denied the right to vote, own property, right to education, make decision in marriage and so on.
This is because the men are the ones who hold key position in the leadership of the community thus deny willingly women the right which they truly deserve. This has not been the case lately. Women have come together and stood strong to fight for their rights. They have achieved this by forming groups, organizations and unions. They have felt like a time has come when their rights should be respected and they should be treated equally as men (Hosken, 1981, p. 3).
Women have been struggling for a long time now to be treated equally as men. As mentioned earlier we have seen that the rights of women have been suppressed as compared to the right of men within any society. This has been a trend which has been going on for many generations now. In ancient Athens for example, women were not allowed under any circumstance to own any property including land. They were part of the family which was headed by a male member referred to as kyrios.
A woman before marriage was under the custody of his father or any other male relative and once she was married her custody was transferred to her husband. For an individual to be considered as a full citizen during that period, they had to own property. Since women were not allowed to own any property then, they were not regarded as full citizens. This leads to a decline in the rights and privileges that they received from the society such as civil and political rights.
In ancient Rome, a woman was seen as a minor who was under the care of her husband. She could not do anything according to what she felt or thought. Upon marriage all the property which a woman owned was transferred to the husband in accordance to the law. In Rome a woman could not hold a public office, become a tutor or be a witness of anything including a case.
Later on a few roman philosophers felt that men and women should have equal rights. This led to a lot of debate and might have been the beginning of fighting for women rights in ancient Rome.
As time moved on, women started to earn rights within the society. During the era before the introduction of the Qur`an women were not allowed to inherit any property in the event of the death of their husbands. However, this changed after the Qur`an was introduced and women were allowed to inherit the property of their husbands (Hosken, 1985, p. 5).
In addition they were also allowed to own property which they have earned, receive the full dowry that was paid by the husband and they also had a say in the event of marriage or divorce. As a result, an Arabian woman during this time was viewed to be of a higher status as compared to a woman in ancient Rome or a European woman during the middle ages.
Women realized even more rights during the middle ages especially in Europe. For instance, it was made into law by the British courts that before a man transferred any property he must have the consent of his wife unlike in the previous times when a woman had no say on such matters. It was also during this time that that the voice of women was allowed to be heard through the works of female writers.
From the 18th century onwards there was active fight for the rights of women especially in Europe and America. Many associations, groups and organizations were formed to fight for the rights of women is different parts of the world. It was during the late 19th century that women were allowed to vote.
This is currently a right which all women of mature age enjoy in the whole world. New Zealand was the first country to give women the mandate to vote at a national level in 1893 (Hosken, 1981, p. 6). Women felt that they should be included in the government and participate in the making of laws that govern their states.
Women also started to rebel against the laws which denied them the right to own property. As a result the United States passed a law which protected the property of a woman once she got into a marriage from her husband and the debts of her husband. She could also sell her property willingly when she felt like doing so.
In modern times women have felt that they need to have equal rights like men. Moreover, they also feel that the law should grant them special rights as women which will protect them from further oppression by men.
These rights pertain to matters like consent to marriages, birth control rights, protection from discrimination on the grounds of their gender and protection from rape, sexual harassment and violence. In this respect therefore women have come up with non-governmental organization of women’s learning partnership for rights development and peace to fight and ensure that their rights have not been violated.
Women’s Learning Partnerships (WLP)
Women’s Learning Partnerships (WLP) is a non-governmental organization of women which was created after the fourth world women conference held in Beijing in 1995 to address the issues of women in the northern and eastern part of Africa (WLP, 2010). Currently the organization is found in all the continents covering almost all countries of the world.
The organization has got a huge network of participants. Its main aim is to empower women through training and participation so that they can take part in the running of affairs and assist in decision making to make their societies to grow socially, politically and economically.
This organization feels that the fight for human rights is related to the changes which are taking place in the world between traditions on modernity. In traditional setting women rights have been suppressed making women to be viewed as subjects of men. This organization therefore wants women to receive equal rights as men regardless of their age, background, class, race, education or religion. All this can be achieved through women participation in politics.
Political participation in women can be achieved through active citizenship and practicing of leadership by women. WLP achieves this objective by organizing workshops, seminars, training of trainers and forums where women are thoroughly trained. They also have a training manual for political participation which they give to their members for further review.
Participants normally include women from all around the world, men, students, media, other NGO`s and so on. This knowledge helps people to understand the need for giving women their rights and more so to respect women. Despite fighting for women rights, WLP demands equal rights to all individual without any preference on sex, age, race, religion or any other dividing character. It also embraces reforms in the family law and fights for human rights.
Women have been deprived their rights for many years now. That is why they have formed non-governmental organizations to fight for their rights over the years. As a result, they have been given right which they were denied before such as voting and owning property. They will however not stop until there is equality between women and men.
Hosken, F.P. (1981). Towards a Definition of Women’s Rights. Human Rights Quarterly, 3 (2), 1–10.
Moyn, S. (2010). The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History. Harvard, Harvard University Press.
WLP .(2010). Women Learning Partnerships. Retrieved from https://learningpartnership.org/