8 March –Women Empowerment

Accessibility to the public space

Why do we talk about women emancipation and what does that mean for women? It is difficult to tackle this subject in a few words, but throughout this month of March, Femmes d’Espérance offers you a series of articles dedicated to the status of women in society and especially in honor of the International Women’s Rights day which takes place every year on March 8.

The place occupied by women has not always been as we know it today. On the contrary, it took several years of struggle, in a patriarchal society, for the perception of what a woman is, to be reconstructed. These struggles made a way for women to get out of the domestic sphere in which they have been confined for a long time.

The expression “women emancipation” although in use for several decades did not take its effective meaning until the 1970s when; feminist movements asserted themselves to state their own ideas, defend their rights without having other representatives than their own experiences, their daily experiences, their conditions as women living in a capitalist and patriarchal systems. In fact, as much in Quebec as in other countries, women had become aware of their role as subordinates in relation to men and of the fact that questions linked to women were not part of government priorities that were themselves part of a capitalist and patriarchal world. (source: only available in French)

Gilles Simon Martin Hubert Deploige is Belgian Catholic politician.

The emancipation of women would allude, according Simon Deploige from the Revue philosophique de Louvain entitled: “emancipation des femmes” (Source: only available in French), to three types of demands in favor of women which are as follows:

  • The abolition of marital dominance and gender equality as a foundation of family law.
  • The granting of legal rights to women which would enable women to flourish as much as men by putting their skills and competences to the economic growth of their society and by having access to the labor market without gender discrimination.
  • The Recognition of the role of women in the spaces of power, in the management and regulation of public interests.

We cannot, therefore, ignore the role and place of men in our society as we analyze and think through our understanding of women emancipation in general. The expression “emancipation of women” would therefore refer to the notions of equality and equity in social gender relations aimed at improving the living conditions of women and social justice.

Still, the struggle for access and inclusion is ongoing because there are many challenges remaining. In more than 195 countries of the world, only 13% seem to be allocating budgets for gender statistics. For this, and many other reasons, it is still difficult to assess how and whether women access the public space. Despite these shortcomings in data and research, we also know that diverse women, especially women of African descent, do not have a seat at the table. We are either missing or underrepresented in leadership, management or decision-making positions both in the public and the private sector. Thus, as we celebrate advancements and achievements this year, we must also be aware that every generation of women must join the struggle and contribute to improving the condition of women and girls.

In the next issue, I will talk about the issue of women’s emancipation in relation to the economy. 

By Fariji Niyo

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