How Best Can Women's Rights Be Expanded Internationally?

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 7, 2009
Indian Women Sort Red Chilies Ahead of International Women's Day

The world recognizes March 8 as International Women's Day. During her recent travel to the Middle East, Secretary Clinton met with women who are developing their own businesses through a microcredit program. Promoting women's economic and political participation is an important element of U.S. foreign policy and a key component of democratic development.

How best can women's rights be expanded internationally?



New Mexico, USA
March 11, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Melissa in Pennsylvania -- Mellisa, Sweden is a Constitutional Monarchy. America does not recognize Kings as legitimate rulers of the American population since we won our independence from Britan.

Sweden has a population of just over 9 million as opposed to over 310 million here, and thus in a small population, gender quotas may be neccessary to assure appropriate representation, but comparing U.S. and Swedish political systems is like comparing apples and oranges.

Now if you want politically targeted gender quotas, then perhaps we should change the entire nature of our democatic system of government.

Because that's what it would take. Not just a simple ammendment to the Constitution.

It's a nice thought, don't get me wrong. I just don't think it would fly under our current system of government.

If you don't like the hypothetical scenario I posed, ask yourself if quotas would in any way violate a man's right to seek office in a district slated by quota to have female representation in Congress.

One of the great strengths of our system of government is how well our constitution has served to protect the people from ammendments to it that would deny a portion of the population the opportunity to break social and politcal glass ceilings.

MLK used the founding father's own words to make this "a more perfect union".

If I find myself oposed to such a suggestion as gender quotas in Congress, it is not because I have a problem with women in office, my objection lies on constitutional grounds only.

Methinks you "misunderestmate" me. (chuckle).

As for the topic in question on an international basis, You'll find that I've addressed that as well.

You asked a good question, so I thought I'd show you the courtesy of addressing it first, rather than have you accuse me of ignoring it.

One thng at a time. As I said, 5000 characters per post sets some limits on addressing each and every aspect at once.

Any other complaints?

Minnesota, USA
March 11, 2009

Toni in Minnesota writes:

Women's rights can be expanded internationally by the acts of the women. If a woman of any nationality or religion wants to exercise her human, social or political rights, she must do so. If, in doing so, she ends up in peril as a result of governmental or religious oppression, then this oppression must be made public. The power of the media could be used with great affect in this regard. The majority of the world would not tolerate violent oppression of women wanting only to assert their rights.

Just as there are ways to use diplomacy to avert violence or oppression on a national level, it should be the platform on which women can assert these rights.

The Europeans who landed on this continent over 200 years ago realized that to have their rights upheld, they needed to fight for it. Actual physical violence is not necessary, as there are ways to rebel peacefully. If these women want it bad enough, they will do whatever they feel is necessary to acheive expansion of their rights.

United States
March 11, 2009

Mike in U.S.A. writes:

Microcredit loans is a good technique that seems to be doing some net good. Here's another one that I have recently heard about that can be used in conjunction with it:

Recent studies have indicated, in India, that increased exposure to TV, of all things, corresponds with an increased self-value and standard of living among women in rural areas. The theory is that these women see tv shows about women living in Bombay and being independent and in charge of their own life, and they begin to feel that the same is possible for them.

So, one thing to try (and only one of the many, many things necessary to change to get women the rights that they deserve) is to increase communications infrastructure developing nations. The more communication that women in rural areas have with women in urban areas will lead them to see that freedom and independence are not only attainable for them, but are things that are natural and just for them to acquire. It seems important, though, that positive empowered women are depicted as belonging to culture of the women viewing the media - importing western media would probably lead to backlash (and has in other contexts).

btw, the paper that I got this idea from is:
The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India (NBER Working Paper No. 13305), by Robert Jensen and Emily Oster,

South Korea
March 11, 2009

Chul-hong in South Korea writes:

World history has witnessed that Women's Rights has been restricted in various fields. We can take 'suffrage' as a crucial example of the inequality.

Also, Man ruling the world from 'Genesis' had confined the area of labor for Woman, with the exception of high-class woman such as King Elizabeth I, narrowly to the trivial home-work or chores.

Since the late 20th century, Women's Rights has been expanded rapidly in the developed post-modern societies with the advent of information-revolution.

Still, most of Islam and African nations limit Women's Rights, even, in the 21st century.

Therefore, in order to enhance it globally, the Third World should be assisted properly educational program for women by relevant International Organizations.

And, International Organizations should pressure the Third World into changing the absurd policy on Women's Rights.

In addition, as a kind of prototype, International Organizations or Government of each nation could adopt the quota system by which women will occupy, for instance, at least 30 % of all staffs.

President Obama and Secretary Clinton, as we know, are considered as 'Minor-Leaguer' which means they have handicap respectively - colored race, feminine gender.

However, they overcame social prejudice and accomplished American Dream.

Thus, I don't doubt that U.S. will continue to enlarge the rights of Women (minorities).

New Mexico, USA
March 11, 2009

Eric in New Mexico:

@ Mellisa in Pennsylvania -- I'm sorry if you feel my perspective offered is a waste of space, but that's your opinion, not mine.

Sweden's Constitutional Monarchy and small poplation ( 9-10 mil.) poses a significantly different set of parameters than does the Republic of the USA with 310 mil plus population.

A smaller population may very well benefit from gender quotas in their Parliment to provide equal opportunity representation, but with the diversity and vastly larger pool of potential leadership ( male and female ) America has, quotas for representation in government should not be needed.

Thus my point to Rosemary is not a waste of space, but a factor in the overall reality.

"And unless more women are willing to take the stage, take the heat of the spotlight, and make a contribution, I really don't have a solution to offer you. The ten points aside, if U.S. women aren't stepping up to the plate, it'll be hard for them to break glass ceilings."

Are women stepping up? Sure they are, just not in numbers that would change the stats is all I'm saying.

Now you asked a good question and I showed you the courtesy of answering it prior to posting thoughts on the international level aspects of the topic, and had I done otherwise I think you'd be accusing me of ignoring it instead, but I got around to it in my own good time.

If I have objection to gender quotas (any type of quotas actually) , it's not out of any bias, just the oposite.

I base it on constitutional grounds, because it would essentially change the face of a democratic system that has adequately formed mechanisms to ensure fair representation, to base our system of free elections on favoring one element of the population over another, whether that be by race, creed, or gender.

"..and a woman's electability is determined by the confidence she illicits from the public the same way men are elected."

Pardon my spelling, "gains" would probably have caused no confusion. I don't exactly have an editorial staff working for me...(chuckle).

Folks often take the human condition way too seriously.

I happen to find a lot of humor in it. It's what keeps us sane as a species I think. There's also some truth in humor that offers perspective potentially.

Like beauty, that's all in the eye of the beholder.

No insult intended.

New Mexico, USA
March 11, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Amanda in West Virginia -- Hi Amanda,

I'm one of those Democrats that took all kinds of abuse from my fellow Democrats for questioning the wisdom behind some of the President's foreign policy viewpoints during his capaign, and I have to say I voted for the other guy despite peer pressure.

President Obama's in good company however, as President Bush didn't earn my trust the first time round either.

It is my sincere hope that the President earns my trust over the next four years, as he's a likable, intelligent guy who's got the world at his feet at the moment, and I pray he doesn't blow it.

I mean that sincerely.

Thanks for this perspective. I agree that hairstyles are not worthy criteria for suitibility for the highest office, even if it's a 2 ft. high, rainbowed colored mohawk.

"No one questioned John McCain's suits or Barack Obama's shoes."

I'd have to say in all truthfulness that I think folks were too busy questioning Mr. Obama's birth certificate and faith, as well as engaging in guilt by association. In John McCain's case, his age caused folks to question his fitness to serve.

Let me just say to the premis that unfairness was dished out on a purely gender basis during this last election, that the premis does not hold water based on events. Smallmindedness ran rampant on a lot of levels.

What I was most proud to be witness to as an American, was the public and private respect that the candidates showed for each other.

Here we are talking about how to further woman's rights around the world and our election itself has been the most inspirational and motivational tool that could be bought with taxpayer money, yet some folks comment's of it here make it seem like a travesty of justice.

Yes, America stoops to the petty on many political occasion, but we remain peacefull, the loyal opposition is just that to the people, and R.E.S.P.E.C.T. being key to rational political debate; these things were front and center in the eyes of the world, and that's a good thing.

So when placed in context with everything else, I'd like to just point out as a man that if your going to improve the lives of women around the world, you're also going to inprove the lives of the men too, and the children, simply by default. They live together in most cases.

Pennsylvania, USA
March 11, 2009

Melissa in Pennsylvania writes:

@ Eric, Sweden is a parliamentary democracy. The monarch has no political power whatsoever. Perhaps you should get your facts straight before attempting yet again to talk down to me. Re: my "good question" (thanks for the pat on the head), you were free to ignore it; in fact, I wish you had, as it only led to my being drawn into this ridiculous discussion.

But since I'm here, I have to say: that you believe we have "democratic system that has adequately formed mechanisms to ensure fair representation, to base our system of free elections on favoring one element of the population over another, whether that be by race, creed, or gender" is quite humorous, given that it does, and always has favored rich white men. That you are blind to this is not surprising, since you are probably at least two of those things.

And now I will leave this conversation, because this sideshow is taking away from the real purpose of this thread, and re-centering U.S. politics in what is supposed to be a discussion of GLOBAL Women's rights. I take responsibility for my part in this derailment, and do not wish to compound it.

Kathleen G.
California, USA
March 11, 2009

Kathleen G. in California writes:

It is hypocritical to say U.S. favors women's economic and political participation while it provides aid to Israel, a sexist and racist imperialist pariah state, in continuing violation of international law, having just slaughtered 1300 of its prisoners, women and their children, in concentration camp called Gaza, and continues stealing Palestinian land in the West Bank, even while "Madame Secretary" is there making statements about a "two state solution". Israel is making a fool of her and the U.S.! I am outraged. Mrs.Clinton should register as a lobbyist for Israel! This is just one example of U.S. hypocrisy - How much space can I have: Haiti, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, all of Central and South America - 1,000 military bases all over the world. The U.S. is ripping off its own citizens as well as the rest of the world.

California, USA
March 11, 2009

Young in California writes:

It is certain that women's rights are one of the challenges we still face in the 21st century, even though we have achieved significant improvement in the past. Many women are still struggling with poverty and unequal opportunities in the political and economic arenas. In my view, there are two main causes that contribute to this problem. The first reason is male-centered society that has been passed down since the birth of human beings; many people still have the prejudice that a man is superior to a woman in most cases except in some fields such as raising children, domestic choirs. The second reason is education, though this does not hold true in every country. In many countries, I do not want to mention specific names, women receive limited education compared to men. This is due to women's sacrifice of her education for that of her male siblings, often for the purpose of supporting her family financially -- she does not have time to attend school, because she has to sell something in the market all day long to earn small amounts of money. In the long run, women become incompetent because of a lack of education. To strengthen women's rights, first women will need to receive equal opportunities, and then to be freed from the burden of financially supporting their families. The Microcredit movement has been a good example of achieving this goal.

California, USA
March 11, 2009

Jack in California writes:

Women's rights are a relative concept and they can not be judged on Western criteria. Some women in certain regions are in more difficult condition than Western women, but does it mean that they are unhappy. For example, Islamic women are thought to be socially discriminated against. In my view, they are not. The Islamic society has divided men and women by their own traditional values. Both Men and Women are given their social roles by their community. Men do their duties for their family and their wife as men. Women are instilled in with certain social behaviors and treated in a different manner from Western value. However, western women could be unhappy from some perspective: their marriages are always exposed to the peril of divorce, and they are treated equally but not receive as much social favor or consideration as Islamic women do because of the outcome of feminism. Thus, the question is silly. The Western people should stop seeing the world from their own view.

California, USA
March 11, 2009

Eric in California writes:

In fact, women's rights are closely related with economic development which often goes hand in hand with the development of democracy. Even though it is a universal issue in most countries, it is relatively much more serious in undeveloped countries than advanced ones. Unless this economic foundation is established, women?s rights will remain difficult to consolidate despite the ever maturing consciousness of women's rights.

To internationally expand women's rights, it is crucial that women themselves look for a role model. This, along with international solidarity, will help them to contribute to their countries in economic development and democratic processes. The advanced countries including the United States should support such women based on this perspective. The genuine improvement of women's rights can be achieved only when absolute poverty comes to an end and substantial democracy is globally completed. Then, the cost that the U.S should pay for world peace would be dramatically decreased.

California, USA
March 11, 2009

Peter in California writes:

As a male brought up in South Korea where Confucianism plays a considerable role, I have never had a chance to consider the way to increase women's rights; approaching to this issue in the context of international politics is a significant challenge.

Although it is easy to witness some improvement of women's rights in developed countries as well as in my home country, the real lives of women in developing countries are still in the state of poverty, suppression and ignorance. Under humanitarian perspectives, assisting them and trying to improve their lives are certainly desirable.

Conducting some actions to achieve the improvement of women's rights in the field of diplomacy, however, may result in an adverse effect: intervention of sovereignty. This means: each country has its own standard of human rights including women's rights; it is extremely difficult to establish an international standard of human rights. Therefore, some developing countries whose condition cannot afford to adopt the international standard will be against this approach.

In conclusion, it is very desirable to improve women's rights under humanitarian perspectives; however, foreign policy makers should be prudent to achieve the improvements through international policy methods.

Tennessee, USA
March 11, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Guess you have to change the Old Testament.....first.

I do not mean that in a disrespectful manner at all; it is a reality of misuse by general populations and many cultures world wide. It is simply the most used to endorse hundreds of generations of misconceptions.

Educated people know that there is always a minority which is made subject; however, when it is deepened by religious roots, it is more difficult to transpose a cultural wrong.

Leaders as Golda Meir have proven credibility under stress, threat of life and changing times; but, on a local level, changes will come as money and responsibility changes hands.

With responsibility premised on Free Trade, many women of all cultures have made major stepping stones in the last five decades and I feel this will be the best course of action. KIVA is one such example of productive aid which will help with the least amount of direct cultural threat.

New Mexico, USA
March 11, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Melissa in PA -- Your tone with me has been anything but respectful of the courtesy and patience I've afforded you.

This is an open forum, there are rules of discussion posted on site you would do well to take to heart before you decide to post again.

Also, facts are facts, so do the research. Here's the State Dept. country notes on The Kingdom of Sweden (official name). You'll find that it is indeed a Constitutional Monarchy as I stated.

There are fundemental differences and some fundemental similarities to our form of Democracy (big D). Like apples and oranges, they're both fruit, they just taste different and have different internal structure.

If you read my post to Amanda in West Virginia, you'll find that I've brought the domestic aspect and the international aspect of this subject to a point of intersection and interdependance, which was Rosemary in New Jersey's basic issue of concern to her.

"We need to start in our own backyard. We cannot be a leader on the global front when we are so far behind in this country."

I disagree with how she characterizes the situation, but not with her valid point that America must set example.

Which in fact we have always done since "rich white men" decided to kick King George's butt out of the colonies some 230 years ago.

Despite the fact that it took so long to achieve "a more perfect union", it was the founding father's own words MLK used to force the American government to live up to it's own founder's intent and design.

Same goes for the brave ladies that marched in the 1920's to demand that "rich white men" honor their better half through affording them a vote in the matters of state as equal partners in the nation's future.

We've come a long as a nation way, baby. And the rest of the world knows it.

We've pissed some folks off because we've demanded changes from them on a lot of levels including woman's rights. Folks don't like seeing status quo down the drain, it threatens their power structures. Thus the "Flower" revolutions of the last decade can be said to be as a direct result of the alternative model of society America represents, and has represented to the world since France gifted the United States the great lady in New York harbor.

Stick around, this is just getting interesting.

Rhode Island, USA
March 12, 2009

Susan C. in Rhode Island writes:

The World Economic Forum's Gender Gap report identifies 4 areas that warrant action for expanding women's rights here in the U.S. and abroad.

1. Economic participation and opportunity -- outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
2. Educational attainment -- outcomes on access to basic and higher level education
3. Political empowerment -- outcomes on representation in decision-making structures
4. Health and survival -- outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio

In her confirmation hearing, Secretary Clinton admitted that we have a way to go here in the U.S., but that shouldn't prevent her or anyone else from advocating (and using policy and programs) to promote women's rights abroad. As long as we continue to make strides (e.g. Lilly Ledbetter Act, the U.S. can be credible voice for change (in spite of being 27th on the WEF Gender Gap report. Leaders and Gender Parity/GenderGapNetwork/index.htm)

Tennessee, USA
March 13, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

I already said my part' but you will notice that change is taking place in all aspects and political sphears:

Venezuela Turns Women's Affairs Ministry Into Full-Fledged Ministry
March 10th 2009, by James Suggett -

M鲩da, March 9th 2009 ( -- In honor of International Women's Day Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that the Women's Affairs Ministry, which was created last year as an extension of the National Institute of Women (INAMUJER), will now have its own budget and central office, and the name of the ministry will be changed to include "gender equality."



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