DEFENDING WOMAN AND EQUALITY: THE CONTROVERSY OF WOMEN INEQUALITY IN MUSLIM COUNTRIES, THE CASE OF EGYPT AND MAROCCO
By: Haris Rahmat Pratama
President University student majoring International Relations
Today, inter-human relations has reached a very significant point. Dynamic life and several changes have encouraged people to reach a mutual agreement in carrying out the duties and obligations of everyday life, only then, the rights will be obtained.
Talking about rights as a consequence of the fulfillment after responsibility, there are many opinions assert that the right is the authority of every human being since we were born, in particular to human rights, so that the values and norms in society will rotate in accordance with other elements.In this case, equality becomes the main topic for the achievement from the purpose of fulfillment itself.
In every state, the role of the government to fulfill the international treaty governing notices how gender equality can be realized. As set forth in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), CEDAW is an international convention adopted in 1979 by the United General Assembly. Globally-known as an international bill of rights for women, it came into force on 3 September 1981. The United States is the only developed country that has not ratified the CEDAW.
Several states have ratified the Convention subject to certain declarations, reservations and objections. The Convention observe discrimination against women in the following as any distinction, exclusion or limitation made on the basis of sex, which has the effect or purpose of breaking or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It also establishes an agenda of action for putting an end to sex-based discrimination
As the framework to create a better cooperation among the state, countries ratifying the Convention are required to enshrine gender equality into their domestic legislation, repeal all discriminatory provisions in their laws, and establish new provisions to guard against discrimination against women. However, the special protection for maternity is not regarded as the discrimination (Article 4). And all appropriate measure, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women (Article 6). As the right for education equal opportunity for scholarship for female student is ensured (Article 10). They must also enact tribunals and public institutions to guarantee women effective protection against discrimination, and take steps to eliminate all forms of discrimination practiced against women by individuals, organizations, and enterprises.
In which some reasons occurred, seven UN member states that noted have not ratified the convention are Iran, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, Tonga, and the United States. These are either Islamic states (Iran, Somalia, Sudan) or small Pacific Island nations (Nauru, Palau, Tonga), or the United States. Niue and the Vatican City (as Holy See) have also not signed it. The United States has signed, but not yet ratified. In 2007, after much pressure from women's organizations such as the National Alliance of Taiwan Women's Associations, Taiwan's Legislative Yuan ratified the stipulations of CEDAW into its own domestic policy. It is still awaiting CEDAW approval of its ratification.
Convention supervision is the task of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which is made up of 23 experts on women's issues from different UN member states. The Committee meets twice a year to review reports on compliance with the Convention's provisions that the signatory nations are required to submit every four years. The Committee is one of the eight UN-related human rights treaty bodies. The Committee's members, described as "experts of high moral standing and competence in the field covered by the Convention", are elected to serve four-year terms in staggered elections held every two years. Its officers are a chairperson, three vice-chairpersons, and a reporter. Efforts are made to ensure balanced geographical representation and the inclusion of the world's different forms of civilization and legal systems.
The convention has provided a surety to create such law enforcement. Not in the pure point but they keep trying to make better condition regard to gender equality. According to UN, the number of state that has promoted gender equality is still at the medium level even some the scholars do believe that there are only several nations who already established a strong volition against gender inequality. Under the umbrella of UN, which is UNDP, the respective organization has run such measurement to calculate how far the countries that has willingly involving women as same as men. It was Gender-related Development Index (GDI) as an indication of the standard of living in a country. It is one of five indicators used by United Nation Development program in its annual Human Development Report. It aims to show the inequalities between men and women in the following areas: long and healthy life, knowledge, and a decent standard of living. According to the 2009 GDI report on gender empowerment measure and its component, the top 5 country which have the highest rate for gender equality mostly are western state, namely (1) Sweden, (2) Norway, (3) Finland, (4) Denmark, and (5) Netherland. And five countries that have the lowest rank mostly are Arabian Peninsula countries including (105) Algeria, (106) Saudi Arabia, (107) Egypt, (108) Bangladesh, and (109) Yemen. Indonesia itself is ranked at 96.
From the data above, it emerged a new problem, where many people who argue those countries with Islamic ideology or majority of Muslims in the country would have a low level of gender equality. It is visible from many Arab countries-which is considered by the western-still have problems in terms of equality rights for women. To explain such important issue, we need to be idealistic to perceive what the real condition of women in Islam.
Actually most of the cases that believe that the role of women in Islam is already decreased are false. Most of the events that occurred in Arab countries are the cause of the process of cultural assimilation with religion. Never once Islam -as many sect leader of Islam told- teaches the values of discrimination against women but rather the development of culture and customs that cause a form of discrimination. If we see the more specific issues, the fact will be the object that speaks the truth. Let us take a hot issue that has close links with gender equality. The issue is employment. We often hear that many Islamic countries have a low level of female employment, actually the facts speak otherwise. In Pakistan for example, 16% of Pakistani women are listed as human resources active in the field of economics. What about Indonesia, which is recognized as the largest Muslim country in the world? Turns out 52% of Indonesian women are also experiencing the same thing where they took part in the economic sector within the country both private and state ownership.
What happened with the process of cultural assimilation with religion? Then we will return again to the evidence. The truth of this assimilation process occurs in Egypt and Morocco. In Egypt, the role of women in the private sector is very limited. This occurs because public confidence in Egypt who believed that the family should be a priority for a woman, so it is easy for us to find the number of male workers in the country rather than women. Another case with Morocco, as a growing number of women employed in a strategic position in Morocco, the law will act and consider of them as the minor. This happens because the people in Morocco believe that women are not able to protect themselves in the sense of morality and because men are considered more resistant to the influences that can change their ideology.
So, from the above facts, we must rethink again about our understanding of the condition of women in Islamic countries. The most important thing to note is that in every civilization, there must be customs and cultures that affect public life in the civilization itself. This process also affects the social strata in society especially on women, and particularly in Islamic countries. Therefore, gender equality can also be implemented in Muslim countries but to change the cultural thinking of the social ideology is not as easy as turning the palm of the hand. Basically, those cultural customs is definitely rooted in the life of the community, so that the need for socialization and more intelligent cooperation between government, society and the role of human rights organizations is very important for an understanding of gender equality ascertain it will not violate the values of rights possessed by every human being.