The Power of Inequality

Today marks the 101st International Women’s Day and offers everyone a chance to reflect on the situation of women the world over.

Recent figures from the ABS paint a reasonable picture for Australian women, with female life expectancy four years higher than males; women less likely to be obese, smoke or drink excessively; and more likely to own their home or have completed year 12.  On the flip side Australian women on average still earn less than men, are more likely to suffer depression, harassment and sexual abuse and are three times more likely to be the victims of domestic violence.

Scandinavian and other Northern European countries perennially rank amongst the best countries for women to live, a 2011 survey by Newsweek / Daily Beast ranked  the top ten (using the categories justice, health, education, economics and politics) as Iceland, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Norway, USA, Australia and the Netherlands.  The survey’s ten bottom ranked countries, a roll call of usual suspects – Guinea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Niger, Solomon Islands, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, Afghanistan and Chad – hold within them the reasons why International Women’s Day is so important.

While undoubted progress has been made on women’s rights in Europe, North America and Australia over the past 101 years, the aforementioned bottom ten have stagnated or even worsened from where they were a century ago.  In all the bottom ten countries and many more further up the list (Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, CAR, India, Bangladesh & Nigeria) women suffer, on a terrible scale, rape, genital mutilation, forced marriage, early marriage, slavery, disempowerment (political, economic and social), domestic violence, illiteracy, illegal imprisonment, prostitution, trafficking, revenge attacks, murder and other forms of violence, harassment and repression.  Women in many of these countries are already refugees or IDPs, and after fleeing their homes face further violence and discrimination in refugee camps.  It is for these reasons International Women’s Day is so important.

Source: Because I am a Girl, Plan International 2009

It is vital to recognise that this array of violence and discrimination faced by women is for one main reason and that is because they are female.  While many women in Chad, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and DR Congo may also be refugees or IDPs and thus even more susceptible to violence (mostly rape) that is secondary to their being female; and while women may be the ones inflicting FGM on their daughters or grand daughters, to cease the practice would incur the wrath of dominant males in the respective culture.  Women and girls are targeted by men (and sometimes other women) and subjected to violence, abuse and discrimination primarily because they are women – because they are easy targets, physically weaker, less educated, less empowered, less likely or able to speak up, ignorant of their rights, have no rights, are more desperate or are held down or back by a dominant matriarchal society including family, institutions and governments.

 Source: Because I am a Girl, Plan International 2009

Despite the feel good stories that are periodically broadcast on mainstream news about female school attendance in Afghanistan or women’s rights in Pakistan the reality is far from rosy.  Annually, half a million Afghan women die during or shortly after childbirth; in Uruzghan province the female literacy rate is less than one per cent; in 2009 the life expectancy for an Afghan woman was 44 years, 20 years below the world average and even less than Afghan males who have been fighting wars since 1979; finally, Afghan women suffer from endemic violence and discrimination at home and in public.  Meanwhile in Pakistan, acid throwing and child brides capture the headlines, however female literacy, employment and health rates are at dismal levels and take secondary priority to men’s, while various other forms of social discrimination exist as well.

To want to change the situation of women the world over is not to place a ‘superior’ Western culture over a ‘backwards’ foreign culture, in fact in many countries changes are desired by and carefully fought for by women there and supported by many men as well.  In Saudi Arabia, women will finally have the right to vote in 2015; in Pakistan women’s organisations are lobbying the government and fighting back against attacks on wives and daughters; in South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya women are speaking out against corrective rape, FGM and other forms of sexual violence, and all across Sub Saharan Africa women’s organisations are arguing the case for greater economic empowerment to improve the lives of the urban and rural poor.

Source: Because I am a Girl, Plan International 2009

International Women’s Day should be both a celebration of all that has been achieved in the last 101 years – including labour rights, voting rights, property reform, employment equality, political leadership and economic and legal empowerment, however it should also remind us that we have really only begun to correct the imbalance between the opportunities for a child born male or a child born female.  Until a woman born in Sudan, Afghanistan or Chad has the same hope in the future that a Scandinavian, Canadian or Australian woman has, indeed until a Scandinavian, Canadian or Australian woman has the same hope and opportunities that a respective man has, Internationals Women’s Day will and should remain one of the most important of the year.


 Source: The Little Book of Big Debate Starters




/* Style Definitions */
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;

International Women’s Day highlights hurdles obstructing equality

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Gender issues, People, Politics, Law

Subscribe to Intentious

Be notified by email whenever new pieces are posted by the blogging team tackling controversial current events or issues.

12 Comments on “The Power of Inequality”

  1. March 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    This is fantastic. Jason, you’ll like this one, harking back to one of your earlier pieces where you talked about #firstworldproblem Feminism vs the real Women’s Rights problems, ie:,

  2. March 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    “On the flip side Australian women on average still earn less than men, are more likely to suffer depression, harassment and sexual abuse and are three times more likely to be the victims of domestic violence.”

    The wage gap is a myth (
    Male depression is vastly underdiagnosed, it is suspected to be higher than female depression, but yes, beyong blue still have the incorrect statistic on their website.
    Women perpetrate more domestic violence than men (
    Men are frequently sexually harrassed by women, but the police don’t take them seriously.

    Just because men have more property or money doesn’t mean the women are oppressed. The men probably worked harder and longer to get where they are. Women do not work nearly as much as men. Even when it comes to domestic housework, men still do more work around the home than women do on average.

    When comparing the living standards of women overseas, don’t EVER compare them to women in the first world. Compare them to the men in the same country. Half a million Afghan women die in childbirth, how many Afghan men die violently each year? How many Afghan boys are anally raped and forced into prostitution? How many Afghan men like their arranged marriages? Do you think only women get upset about arranged marriages? Would you like to be forced to pay for and look after a heinous bitch by your parents for the rest of your life?

    The fact is, if you stop comparing third world women, to first world women, then compare them to the typical third world man (not the elite that makes up less than 1% of the population) the third world women are still getting a better deal than the third world men. How many child soldiers in Africa were girls? How many women were massacred in Rwanda? How many Indian women murder their husbands to take their doury? You literally have to overlook entire genocides of men before you can even begin to suggest that women have it harder than men on a global scale!

    • March 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

      Aaah, I thought my article might trigger this response, thanks for proving me right 🙂

      The first thing I’ll say, as I’ve said before is that you seem really passionate about male issues and rather than tearing down another issue to build yours up, you should simply argue for your issues, I support a lot of what you argue about, male depression especially

      On the wage gap – I’m talking about what was released by the ABS this year, not what is happening in the US, same with DV… maybe men are harassed by women and the police don’t take it seriously, that is believable, but I would be astonished if it was anywhere near the scale of the other way around…

      On property, well actually in the cases I’m talking about (developing world) not having property rights does mean women are oppressed and women in the developing world work their arses off, you take the women out of Africa and see what would happen, the place would implode… and women do FAR more domestic work than men, it is not even comparable!

      On living standards, I don’t believe my article is comparing the lives of western vs developed world, most of the content is about the developing world and why those issues need to change… next, plenty of afghan men die in battle each year and it’s terrible, but it’s not because of women – it’s because of war – a separate issue… how many are raped, I don’t know, again though it is a serious issue and I would support it being addressed, but it in no way lessens when a woman is raped… I didn’t talk about arranged marriages, I talked about early and forced marriage, there is a difference… and not all women who are in arranged marriages are heinous bitches as you so delicately describe them…

      I don’t know where you get the idea third world men are worse off than third world women, sure they have a tough life, I don’t doubt that, but the poorest of the poor wherever you go are always women, that’s just a fact, you may not like it, but it’s true… child soldiers, most were men sure and that again is a serious problem and should definitely be addressed, but in no way can women be blamed for that… how many women were massacred in Rwanda – hundreds of thousands, a persons sex had nothing to do with whether they were spared or not, genocides do not discriminate between sexes, you die because of your ethnicity, race or religion etc… how many Indian women murder their husbands, I don’t know, perhaps you can provide a statistic for us all…

      • March 12, 2012 at 10:30 am #

        Baiting a lion might seem like sound science, but it’s still potentially foolish too.

        Here’s a pretty video describing the wage gap myth:

        If you have proof that men and women get paid a different amount of money for the same work, same experience, same work skills, same hours, same responsibilities then prove me wrong, otherwise stop spreading false information about the wage gap myth.

        Ok, I’m no expert on the developing work, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s the same here in the west: men work their arse off to get a house, expensive car and expensive clothes to woo a woman. The woman is very happy, shameless in fact, in marrying a guy for his money and even today most women say they would be happier being a housewife than a worker. More over most women feel they are entitled to be looked after by men. Does this really mean men have all the power? Men pay prostitutes far more than women do, yet women want sex as much as men… hmmm then why are men the paying slaves of women? The flow of money and resources is from men to women, men compete with each other for how much they can provide to women. You know this is true, why can’t you see this as men competing to get more property to look after more women?

        There are a thousand ways we could analyse a situation, but the best point of view to take is to assume nothing and look at the facts and see what makes sense. The problem with feminism is much the same as religion: it assumes female oppression, cherry picks the facts that supports this and ignores all the evidence that contradicts this point of view. I challenge you to disprove the theory that apart from a small population of sociopaths (~1-2%), the overwhelming majority of men serve and protect women far more zealously than they serve and protect other men or themselves.

        If you think men have it easier than women: take your time working your way through this list and verify for yourself every reference.

        Women are the priviledged sex, they are genetic celebrities and men desperately seek their approval.

        • March 12, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

          Ok, here’s a link to check about the ‘wage gap myth’, note on page 3 it says ‘Females worked 7,651,000 hours in the past 12 months or 38.6% of all hours worked and earn 89% of males’ income on both an average hourly rate (for non-managerial employees) and fulltime earnings basis.’ You can read in more detail throughout the report. And to top it off the information is Australian, not American.

          There is no doubt men in the developing world ‘work their arse off to get a house’, don’t know about the ‘expensive car’, maybe a motorbike if they’re lucky and expensive clothes – I’m sure they do what they can, whether is to woo a woman or not is debatable… ‘the woman is very happy, shameless in fact, in marrying a guy for his money and even today most women say they would be happier being a housewife than a worker’ – not sure where you sourced that information from, but you must have a pretty low opinion of women if you think this, perhaps look at it this way – in the developing a woman might marry a rich man to escape a life of poverty, guarantee a food supply, guarantee shelter and provide a better future for her children – she marries because she has had less chance at education and employment and has little chance of obtaining sounds education or employment, then she has to put up with a husband who beats her or cheats on her because the only other alternative is to go back to slums, the village in shame… now this is not for every woman, but it’s another way of looking at it which is probably more likely than a gold digger

          ‘More over most women feel they are entitled to be looked after by men’ – according to what study…?

          Men pay prostitutes far more than women do – this is a whole other argument to big to get into here…

          ‘…assume nothing and look at the facts and see what makes sense…’ – all the facts I have seen if you go by Australian government websites, the UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, WHO, my website, etc, etc show that much of what I wrote in the article is true and if you visit the sites hyperlinked that’s what you will find…

 – you can’t seriously give this website any credence can you, they say that American combat deaths are male dominated – well of course they are, most of the military is male!!!, Male rape levels in prison are higher than for women – well what a revelation that is!!! And men have higher homicide rates – yeah because they are killed by other men… second of all none of this has ANYTHING to do with any mythical female oppression of men, it is men hurting other men! And none of that should take away from the fact that women are raped in war, raped outside prison and victims of violence – mostly by men, hmm, seems to be a theme developing there. Anyone with half a brain can see those holes in 2 mins and decide the site is completely biased and dismiss it quicker than a male orgasm – sorry could not resist 🙂

          • gwallan
            March 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

            “it is men hurting other men”

            Ah here’s the crux. Those male victims of violence don’t count because they were abused by somebody male.

            You are a seriously vile individual. Pig.

            • March 18, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

              gwallan – nowhere did I say or imply that men who are victims of violence are ‘lesser victims’ than women, if you read my replies/threads/articles I say that for example child soldiers and male victims of rape are worthy causes to fight against. I just don’t believe you have to tear down women’s causes and suffering to build up the aforementioned, they are more than powerful and worthy enough to be fought for on their own.

              • gwallan
                March 19, 2012 at 9:29 am #

                Bullshit. You are doing precisely what I said. You are no better than the mongrels in tax-payer funded victim services who laugh at victims and call them liars because of the victim’s gender or the gender of their abuser.

                When you use a phrase like “it is men hurting other men” you are blaming the victims. You make them the architects of their own abuse. You are a pig.

                • March 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

                  let’s get one thing clear gwallan, any victim of sexual abuse can never be blamed, the person abusing them is ALWAYS at fault and don’t you dare try and twist my words into anything else.

  3. July 25, 2012 at 6:59 am #


  1. An organization helping to inspire a positive future and impact the minds and aspirations for girls | Girls' Power Initiative (GPI) Benin City, Nigeria - March 8, 2012

    […] The Power of Inequality ( Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Articles, from GPI Girls and tagged Empowerment, GPI, International Women's Day, Nigeria, Non-governmental organization, Reproductive rights, Rural area by Girls' Power Initiative (GPI). Bookmark the permalink. […]

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: