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The United Nations and other world bodies have declared that women have a right to equality. These August bodies have defined gender equality in terms of human rights especially the rights that are accorded to women. “Gender equity” is one of the most important goals of the United Nations Millennium Project, and it will go a long way in alleviating world poverty by 2015; as proclaimed by the UNO. Every single Goal is directly related to women’s rights and in societies where women are not afforded equal rights it is literally impossible for men to achieve development by utilizing resources in a sustainable manner.
For example, nations of most of the countries in the Arab world that reject equality of opportunity to women were reprimanded sternly and warned in a 2008 United Nations sponsored report that this dis-empowerment is a critical factor crippling these nations’ return to the first rank of global leaders in commerce, learning and culture Gender equality in the Arab world is absolutely essential for progress and prosperity. The movement towards gender equality, especially in Western countries, began with the suffragette movement during the late 19th century. There were revolutionary changes regarding a woman’s property rights in marriage. In the 1960s, a more general movement for gender equality developed based on women’s liberation and feminism However, actual changes in attitudes still have to be adopted and are being continued to focus on specific issues.
The movement resulted in changes to laws, either relating to particular issues or general laws related to discrimination on the basis of sex. Changes to attitudes to equality in education opportunities for boys and girls have also undergone a cultural shift. Some changes came about by adopting affirmative policies. The change has also involved changes to social views, including “equal remuneration for equal work” as well as most occupations being equally available to men and women, in many countries. For example, many countries now permit women to serve in the armed forces, the police force and to be fire fighters. Also, an increasing number of women are active in politics and occupy high positions in business.
However, many people still do not regard the objective of gender equality as having been achieved, especially in non-Western countries. A highly contentious issue relating to gender equality is the role of women in Christian churches, and female priests. The issue has caused controversy and even rifts in some churches. Not all ideas for gender equality have been popularly accepted. For example, the movement for rights has remained a marginal issue, though breast feeding rights in semi-public places have been accepted. However, women embracing pornography and anti-social behavior at times associated with male groups are still very widely criticized.
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