Gender Inequality in Democratic Welfare States

Thesis Statement

This paper is claimed to evaluate the strategies of Liberal and Social Democratic political forces aimed at the alleviation of gender inequalities. Originally, both strategies can not be regarded as successful, however, the matters of gender inequalities are engrained in the minds of the peoples, and often, it is rather difficult to undermine the sexual prejudice from the minds. Still, there are more efficient methods of overcoming the sexual disparity, and these instances will be analyzed in the paper.

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Introduction

The matter of gender inequality and women’s rights has always been among the most provocative questions in the 20th century, when the feministic movements first appeared. Originally, various political forces offered various strategies for achieving the sexual equality and formulating the necessary law projects. This paper is claimed to analyze and compare the strategies of achieving the gender equality by liberal and social democratic political forces.

Gender Equality

First of all it is necessary to mention, that there are numerous types of inequality in different parts of the world. In some states, this inequality is associated with the matters of death. In some countries of South Asia and North Africa, the mortality rate among women is much higher than among men (Finnegan, 2005).

The natality inequality entails the preference to boys while bearing children. The fact is that, some cultures consider the bearing of a boy as a firstborn more noble and preferred, then a girl. That is why, if a girl is going to be the firstborn, the abortion is inevitable. This mainly happens in India, and the liberal political forces issued the law, that prohibits the doctor to name the sex of a child before the birth. It should be mentioned, that gender inequalities originated from culture and that has deep historical roots is difficult to alleviate, however, the States, that have chosen the progressive democratic way aim to refuse from such discriminating practices. Luckily, the other types of inequality do not touch the issues of birth and death, and are mostly associated with job, education and opportunities.

Originally, these cultural stereotypes are inborn, as people often can not explain this inequality. Women are often regarded as the creations for caring and nurturing, and often have the positions that are linked with these skills. These occupations are associated with the homework, and are not highly economically valued. Men, in their turn, were always regarded as the breadwinners or the workers. Consequently, their jobs are evaluated higher (Ackerson, 2008).

Liberal States

First of all it is necessary to mention, that the liberalism is aimed at achieving the personal freedom for every particular citizen in the country. Social policies in these countries should offer services so that people can benefit from the capitalist financial system and policy insinuations are that government services such as health care and education should be universally offered. The strategy of achieving the gender equality (or at least alleviating the inequality) entails the issuing of the corresponding laws, which proclaim the parity in the opportunities, and prohibit any instance of gender discrimination. The greatest disadvantage of such approach is that such strategy often can not cope with the discrimination completely, and often, after the implementation of these “equality laws” the reverse discrimination appears. It is explained by the fact, that employers, in order not to violate the anti-discrimination law, hire women regardless of the working experience, while men stay unemployed.

The number of gender studies relating the achievement of the sexual equality in the liberal welfare states regarded the roots of inequality. Women often lack the authority to make the necessary decisions or choices and take part in the society activity. This is featured by the emphasized fact, that women are regarded to perform the different actions, and these actions are not high valued (Jackson, 2006).

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In the liberal states, the rights of women are highly appreciated, and women are granted similar rights as men: education, employment, policy and military services. Originally, the necessity to grant to women equal rights with men is just the result of feministic movements, but not the clear realization of this necessity by the citizens: in other words, the government would not grant these rights, if the feminists did not start their manifestations and protests against inequality.

It is necessary to emphasize, that regardless of the law projects, equal opportunities and other factors, that are regarded to be the matters of equality, men and women will never be completely equal, as humanity will never be able to equalize physiology, psychology and health factors. The equality that liberal states offer, provide the artificial parity, while it should be in the minds of the people, but not on the paper of the law project. The liberals just targeted the consequences, but not the root of the problem, that is why, it will take too much time, when the treatment is really equal. (Besse, 2002)

The origin of this disparity is in the deep differentiation of the gender roles. In liberal states this difference is often regarded as the reason of discrimination. Consequently, the women had to start essential protests in order to gain parity and gain the equal opportunities. That is why the strategy of alleviating of gender disparity can not be regarded successful in liberal states. It is also featured by the fact, that in general women are not regarded as equal to men.

Social Democratic States

The social democratic states are not so focused on achieving the gender equality, as these states often do not face this problem. The fact is that, the most states, that have selected the Social Democratic way of development have never challenged the trouble of gender inequalities. These are mainly the countries of Eastern Europe (Slavian countries) and the Northern Europe (Scandinavian states). Surely, there are some exceptions. China, for instance, selected the Social Democratic way, and still, the disparity stays on rather high level. The situation is aggravated by poverty, as poor citizens do not think of the latest trends in social life, and do not wish to treat someone equally, if this treatment was unequal for the centuries (Rives, 2001).

It should be stated, that gender inequality is pervasive in China, especially in the poorest rural regions of the country. Impoverished women and thei inequality with men is aimed to be treated with the microfinance programs, as these program’s aim is to increase the women’s stability, and grant them the decision making authority in the financial and political issues. Nevertheless, even the well-tuned microfinance program that was borrowed from Bangladesh and Latin America can not measure the success in decreasing the gender inequality.

On the first sight, the strategy of Social Democratic state has no difference with the strategy of the liberal power. Nevertheless, the deeper analysis reveals the fact, that Social Democrats act more deeply, as they aim to change the way of thinking, but not just change the corresponding law system, that grants the equality of the opportunities. The aim to change the way of thinking relies on the fact that the root of the problem of disparity is in the bringing up the children. Originally, the kid should regard their parents as the equal parts of the family; consequently, this treatment will be transmitted to the rest part of this kid’s life. The social democrats not only discovered the essence of the problem, but also tried to solve it, clearly realizing, that it will take some time, until the problem is solved.

The gender roles that are assigned to men and women in Social Democratic states undermine any credibility of discrimination, as men and women always worked together for the common welfare. The men hunted, worked in smithies, built houses and the women worked in the field, cared for cattle, poultry, brought up children etc. In spite of the fact, that the roles and jobs are different, the treatment to a woman as the keeper of the family hearth stayed until nowadays. Thus, the strategy of the Social Democrats may be regarded as more effective, as the parity is achieved by entirely different means and tools. The fact is that, the changes have been already made (where it was necessary), consequently, the problem is half solved. Nevertheless, it will take much time for the total equality was reached.

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Other Variants

As it is stated in the previous chapters, neither liberal nor Social Democratic strategies are effective in solving the problems of gender inequality. Both strategies are not perfect, and both require too much time to solve the problem completely. The best variant is the combination of both approaches, that is targeted at the minds and at the law. Such approach could be observed in the period of Soviet Union creation, when the future Superpower had to restore after the consequences of the Civil War, and rebuild the financial and industrial structures. The fact is that, men and women equally struggled for the benefits of the Socialist revolution, and this united men and women, that were not very distant even before the revolution. The Soviet Union was the first State in the world that appointed a woman (Alexandra Kollontai) as the diplomatic representative of the State. This was an unprecedented event, and it symbolized, that in the State of Socialism the men and the women are equal. Women worked together with men at the plants and factories, drove trucks and tractors (Pasha Angelina), worked in mines etc. They did not struggle for the equality of their rights – the Russian women deserved these rights and the attitude as to equals. Surely, first, they were the objects of sexual discrimination among the working men, and were often laughed at. However, these instances were severely eliminated, and the offenders judged (often publically) and punished. In this case, women did not wish to bite off their own piece of pie, but they helped to struggle for the general welfare, and their great services to the Soviet country could not be forgotten (Rives, Yousefi, 2001).

Another variant is the elimination of any differences between genders (Australia). In distinction with the liberal system, that aims to provide equal opportunities on the legislative basis, the elimination of the differences means not only the equal opportunities, but also the equal obligations and corresponding treatment to women as to equal partakes of the society. The equation process in Australia has developed so extensively, that the movement of anti-feminists started its activity. Their slogan is “we are women who were born to be women”. However, the demographic situation in Australia is not favorable, and the male population outnumbers, thus, women are treated equally with the men, as the feminist movement would only worsen this situation: it is explained by the fact, that feminists prefer stay unmarried, consequently, the number of women, ready to create a family, will only decrease.

When Equality is Incredible

As it has been emphasized, in some States the sexual disparity is stated in the cultural and religious norms (India, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Morocco etc): these are mainly the Islamic states, however India is also among them. Regardless of the norms and practices that may be borrowed from the Western states, this inequality is stated in the religious norms, and there is no need to argue on the matters of the religion significance for Muslims (Besse, 2002).

However, there is an exception. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, when creating the democracy in Turkey claimed, that the Turkish people should refuse from discriminating traditions, and allowed women to be elected to the parliament, preliminarily allowing women to vote. Luckily, this initiative was accepted gladly, though Ataturk was very charismatic leader, and could persuade people to refuse from the basis of their culture – religious principles. In this context, the countries with more powerful Islamic traditions will never be able to refuse from the principle, that men are superior then women, and moreover, will never allow women to enter the governmental institutions.

Conclusion

In conclusion it is necessary to mention, that liberal and social democratic welfare states do everything possible to eliminate the sexual disparity. Nevertheless, these strategies can not be regarded as successful, as liberals prefer solving the problem on the legislative basis, and consequently they get the opposite effect, as men appear to be more discriminated when employed, or during the judicial hearing. The Social Democratic strategy, in its turn, is mainly aimed at the minds of the citizens (China), however, this strategy requires too much time for the effect took place.

The best strategy of overcoming the crucial consequences of sexual disparity was implemented during the early years of Soviet Union existence. The main feature of this strategy was that women aimed to deserve this parity, and government assisted them in this striving, as men did not wish to share their working places at plants and factories with weak women. Nevertheless, women appeared to be powerful enough, and coped with discrimination and prejudices.

Still, there are some countries, where neither liberal nor Social Democratic strategies will have an effect. These are the Islamic countries (except Turkey), where the Muslim traditions are too powerful for being overcame by the legislative base.

References

  1. Ackerson, L. K., & Subramanian, S. (2008). State Gender Inequality, Socioeconomic Status in India: A Multilevel Analysis. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 43(1), 81
  2. Besse, S. K. (2002). Restructuring Patriarchy: The Modernization of Gender Inequality. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
  3. Finnegan, G. (2005). The Scientific Reproduction of Gender Inequality: A Discourse Analysis of Research Texts on Women’s Entrepreneurship. International Labour Review, 144(4), 502
  4. Jackson, C. O. (Ed.). (2006). The Other Americans: Sexual Variance in the National Past. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
  5. Jacobs, J. A. (1996). Gender Inequality and Higher Education. 153
  6. Kane, E. W., & Sanchez, L. (1994). Family Status and Criticism of Gender Inequality at Home and at Work. Social Forces, 72(4), 1079-1102.
  7. Palazzari, K. (2007). The Daddy Double-Bind: How the Family and Medical Leave Act Perpetuates Sex Inequality across All Class Levels. Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, 16(2), 429
  8. Paludi, M. & Paludi, C. A. (Eds.). (2003). Academic and Workplace Sexual Harassment: A Handbook of Cultural, Social Science, Management, and Legal Perspectives. Westport, CT: Praeger.
  9. Rives, J. M. & Yousefi, M. (Eds.). (2001). Dimensions of Gender Inequality: A Global Perspective. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
  10. Tindall, T., & Hamil, B. (2004). Gender Disparity in Education: The Causes, Consequences, and Solutions. Education, 125(2), 282
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