This paper analyses the inequalities rural women have to undergo, to be more specific gender inequality in terms of opportunities, rights, and ownership. To my mind, there is a lack of gender equality that is why women should be empowered in order to establish the equal conditions that men already have. The documentary by UN Women “side by side – Women, peace, and security” undoubtedly supports my perspective that is the major reason why I linked that video to the readings. Parallel to women’s rights, Kocabicak (2018) and Stirling (1965) focus on the injustice between genders regarding land ownership. All in all, my main purpose is to examine rural women’s inequality in various aspects.
First of all, it’s notable that so few words in the English language refer to women without making an etymological reference to the word men. There is the male and there is the fe-male; the man and there is the wo-man (Panchuck, 2019). I am impressed by the fact, how the structures of the words in the language are deeply connected, to put it another way, as mentioned above, without the word “man”, there would be not “woman”. However, is this also true in the real world?
It can be observed that males living in urban have higher economic power, education opportunities, and more life chances than women overall. With this in mind, women are disadvantaged in that society. Not only in the “modern” world women are inferior, but also in the rural area men are obviously more dominant. The unfortunate profile of rural women is that of an underprivileged, uneducated, and repressed human being. Her access to information, let alone life opportunities are low, even though she is overworking as a producer, farmer, community service manager, and most importantly as a household worker as Singh and Kumar convey (2012).
To prevent various kinds of inequalities many activists and associations strive to overcome these obstacles. One of the most important organizations is the UN Women, which is the United Nations entity committed to gender equality and the empowerment of women. An international champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to fasten progress on meeting their fundamental demands worldwide. UN Women help the UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, further cooperates with governments and civil society to establish laws, policies, and more that truly benefit women and girls everywhere in the world. Their significant goals, enabling women’s focus on four strategic priorities:
1) Women lead, participate in and benefit equally from governance systems
2) Women have income security, decent work, and economic autonomy
3) All women and girls live a life free from all forms of violence
4) Women and girls contribute to and have greater influence in building sustainable peace and resilience, and benefit equally from the prevention of natural disasters and conflicts and humanitarian action
It is significant to give reference to the UN Women documentary published in 2012 launched on rural women, conflict, and peacekeeping all around the world. Statistics demonstrate that in agreements made between 1990 and 2010, 16 per cent mentioned the word women, and 7 per cent mentioned gender equality or women’s rights (UN Women, 2012). In my opinion, this strongly emphasizes the fact that females do not have as good circumstances as males have. The reason for that is: if women and men would be equal in every aspect, there would be no need to establish agreements to balance gender equality. In the documentary, Ban Ki-Moon, who is the secretary-general of the United Nations, highlights one of the most essential challenges of our times which is not only protecting but empowering women. It is a top priority to raise global awareness about rural women’s peace and security for the system of the United Nations as Ki-Moon expresses in his speech. He underlines the importance of gender equality as a collective responsibility, resulting in justice for both genders. The documentary gives an insight into the work being done for the improvement of women’s lives. Furthermore, the interviews with the activists, peacekeepers, humanitarian workers, and survivors of conflict show truly the fight they give for these innocent women. Supporting this fact with the statements Michelle Bachelet elaborates: “Many of us are particularly concerned about the impact of conflict on women’s lives and women’s rights, and the squandering of the peace-building potential of half of the population,” declares UN Women’s Executive Director Michelle Bachelet speaking at the film’s launch. “Yet we have now a number of opportunities to improve our record”, she added.
Likewise, Kocabicak (2018) agrees with Bachelet, as clearly highlighted in her article “What excludes women from land ownership in Turkey? Implications for feminist strategies” (2018). Kocabicak analysis the reasons for rural women’s exclusion from land ownership in Turkey. The thought of the lack of women’s rights is similar to Bachelet’s point of view. Moreover, land ownership is a vital element in enabling greater gender equality in developing countries. To put it another way, owning land is more than the economic aspect, it overlaps with the social aspect that is having the right to land ownership. Considering this condition this is against the equality of both genders, specifically, it leads to gender inequality. In addition, rural women’s access to land ownership is crucial for achieving greater gender equality overall. She concludes that women’s limited access to ownership and control of property contributes to the gender gap in economic well-being, social status, and empowerment.I strongly believe that the prevention of landownership for rural women results in gender inequality since both genders should be able to have the same rights in every single aspect of life.
On the other hand, for Stirling (1965) the consolidation of small landownership was due to domestic cycles of households, which are economic unities meaning that the landowner is the patriarch. Stirling emphasizes three specific issues; firstly, the cycle of wealth, suggesting one possible source of differentiation in landownership, cultivation of wealth, and power of households in Turkish villages. To sum up it is a cycle. Secondly, the land in plenty village, conveying the idea that there is an extended patriarchal structure. To put it another way, the sons of the household get married and their brides are corresponding to unpaid labor. With this in mind, sons are more valuable than daughters in a family, since when it is a male baby, the family gets unpaid labor. Lastly, the land shortage village, this is when the household gets weaker in terms of money after each domestic cycle due to division of land. Definitely, this starts seasonal or even permanent migration. Furthermore, he states that men form the permanent core of any household, usually the oldest man owns the land. Also, men have much less to do inside the home than women, in contrast, they work outside and have market connections, which leads to the gendered division of labor. I strongly believe that the land should not be owned by the oldest man only, due to the fact that the women also work in terms of domestic such as raising the children and the household. In order to function as a whole, both genders have to fulfil their duties; however, the women’s work is taken for granted. To conclude both genders should have the right to own land, so equal rights. Another matter of fact that Stirling highlights is that when male guests come, they usually sit with men, also old rural women because they passed menopause, they are considered as unisex or sexless. In my view, this is not acceptable, women are still women even when they pass their menopause. To take it a step further, this is the humiliation of the person’s right. Another person is not able to determine if that person has a gender or not, further without the consent of that person describing them as something that they are not is frustrating.
In conclusion, there are many activists and societies fighting to empower and support rural women in numerous aspects of life, like economic in terms of income in order to reach economic freedom and to be independent human beings. Not to mention, another significant goal is to provide political rights on both local and global levels. The reason to promote those rights is because women are under repressed as voters, as well as in leading positions. To sum up, I tried to analyze inequalities of genders in life chances and rights. Most importantly I aimed to focus on landownership, supporting my arguments with diverse perspectives of important people. Thanks to the documentary by UN Women I was able to gain insights into rural women, who are in a disadvantaged position. All in all, gender inequality, especially in the rural should be solved for the common good of all.
Kocabicak, E. (2018). What excludes women from landownership in Turkey? Implications for feminist strategies. Women’s Studies International Forum, 69, 115–125.
Panchuck, M. (2019, January 31). What’s the Word?- “Woman”. Retrieved from WKMS : https://www.wkms.org/education/2019-01-31/whats-the-word-woman#stream/0
Singh, V., & Kumar, K. (2012). Empowerment Of Rural Women. The Indian Journal of Political Science(73), 453-456. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/41852117
Sterling, P. (1965). Household and Family Structure” & “The Domestic cycle. In Turkish Village (pp. 83-119).
UN Women. (2012, July). New UN Women documentary launched on women, conflict and peacekeeping.
UN Women. (2012, July 18). Side by Side — Women, Peace and Security. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2Br8DCRxME&t=10s