“Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all kinds of oppression – Nelson Mandela”
By Victoria Lewis
What is a basic human right? The rights and freedoms that belong to every human being from the moment they are born until the moment they die. They should belong to you no matter your gender or race, because every human being should have them - equally.
What if I told you that today you are not allowed to have many basic human rights and freedoms that everybody else around you is entitled to? Well, this is the case for many women in the world today.
On September 19th, 1893 the governor of New Zeeland signed an Act that allowed New Zealand to be a self-governing country. That Act also allowed women to vote on a national level making New Zealand the first country to give women the right to vote. In other countries, this right didn’t follow for many years. Today, women’s voting rights are still not being granted in many places.
In Syria, women have been cut off from all political engagement; meaning women cannot vote or run as a political leader. Further to this, for many years the right to free movement (being allowed to drive and/or move freely around your country), is also being violated. It was not until 1-year ago that women in Saudi Arabia were granted the right to drive. Women who fought so bravely for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are still being punished and detained for their activism.
Further to this, women also face many Guardship Laws: a law that makes a women's father her legal guardian until the day a woman is married. At that point in time, her husband becomes her new legal guardian. If her husband happens to die, her son would then become her legal guardian or another male family member such as an uncle or a nephew. A woman who goes against her guardian’s wishes can be arrested on charges of disobedience.
So how can we help? One easy way is to educate ourselves on these matters. The more we know, the less ignorance there will be. In turn, the more people that know what's really going on, the more we can help and the more change we can call forth. All of our awareness and support on this is vital! If not, women’s human rights will continue to be suppressed.
Some simple things you can do now are: conduct research, read books about feminism, speak to feminists and listen. You can also familiarize yourself with the declaration of Universal Human Rights to know which are being respected (or not) in any given situation. Knowing more about this oppression is how you can help cultivate change.
There is power in education; let’s give women their power back.