Impact of the First World War on Women’s Rights in the UK

To what extent was the first world war the most important factor in improving women’s right between 1900 and 2017 in the UK?

The First World War was one of the many factors that helped in securing the improvements of rights for women in the years 1900 to the year 2017, however it is debatable to what extent the first world war played in improving women’s rights overall, as other factors like the Second World War, organisations and key individuals also had a significant effect which could have been more influential than world war one. Key people like Emmeline Pankhurst and Diane Abbott, and organisations like ‘The women’s social and political union’ and the suffragettes also played a key part in securing women’s rights as their efforts led to the equal pay act of 1920 and trade unionists founding the national joint action campaign committee for women’s equal rights. These factors, and even more factors like changing social attitudes, also led to change not only politically, but socially and economically too, and it is debatable whether ot not these factors had more of a significant effect than the first world war. However, each of these factor did have limitations that held them back from being fully effective and influential on the women’s movement.

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The First World War had both its limitations and strengths when it came to influencing the women’s movement and its progress politically and socially. While the war created opportunities for women in the workplace in both agriculture and industry, and showcased that women could do ‘men’s’ jobs, were skillful and were actually capable of taking part in society, women were still resented and not treated fairly; despite all the war propaganda encouraging women to get involved, motherhood was still glorified and emphasised which is quite contradicting. However, due to the absence of men in the home, women started to become the head of the household and had control over managing the domestic affairs, which was a significant improvement for women domestically, as prior to the war, it was always men who were the head of the household and the ones in charge, women would have no control over important issues in the home. This really showed that women could handle the jobs their husband used to do, and that there’s really no reason, to not allow them to do it, therefore it really influenced the changing social attitudes in men towards women. We can see the impact the first world war had from Arthur Marwick, who was a professor in history, and that said, “The war experience brought a new confidence to women, dissipated apathy and silenced the female anti-suffragists.” [5] in A History of the Modern British Isles, 1914-1990, published in 1991, almost eighty years after world war one. This historian interpretation is saying how the first world war created a change for women socially, and that it basically brought up topics that were not really spoken about before the war due to this new power and confidence that women had gained from their actions during world war one.

While the first world did lead to the 1918 Representation of the Peoples Act which gave the vote to most women over the age of 30, it was not completely successful as it only applied to certain women, and was excluding those under 30, yet men under 30 could vote, so there was not full equality there as the law was different for men and women, which really showcases that the first world war did not achieve equality and women’s rights to a full extent. We can also see the impact of the first world war being questioned by Paula Bartley, in Votes for Women 1860–1928 (1998),  where she says “The significance of women’s war work in the achievement of the vote is therefore perhaps not as great as first assumed”(4). This shows us that at first the first world war was this great motivator for the women’s movement and for gaining the vote, but in reality it wasnt that impactful as after the war was over the women’s ‘war work’ was essentially pointless, as its effect did not last beyond the war years. While it did partially lead to the vote for women, again, it excluded certain women limiting the success. In addition to this, due to the first world war ending, women were forced back into their previous status and domestic life, out of the jobs they managed to get. Women were also still not allowed to attend university or become an Mp, while men could. So while the first world war did help to progres women socially, it was only for a short amount of time, as after the war years, they had to return to their lives prior the war, and no change had been made in terms of that. Politically, the first world war was somewhat impactful as it did help contribute to the vote being gained, but it was not the only the factor working towards this, and the vote, while it was an advancement in women’s rights, was not completely successful as it only applied to women over the age of 30, therefore the first world war was not the most significant factor in securing women rights, but it was influential.

Another factor that affected the progress of women’s rights was individuals like Emmeline Pankhurst and her involvement in the suffragette movement in the 1900s. Emmeline Pankhurst was born into a family with a tradition of radical politics and she also married Richard Pankhurst who was a lawyer and a supporter of the suffragette movement. Emmeline did a lot of work to help women progress, like founding the Women’s Franchise league and the Women’s Social and Political Union. As part of her protests with the suffragettes, Emmeline was arrested many times, and also went on hunger strike, as a result this caused the government to pass the 1913 ‘Cat and Mouse’ act, where they would release hunger-striking prisoners and then re-arrest them when they were strong and healthy. Because Emmeline was a key individual people looked up to in the feminist movement, the fact that others would also participate is no surprise, and it is probably what made it so popular and effective was that so many women were taking part in it.(2). Another individual that helped was Dianne Abbot, who is a British labour party politician, however some of her views differ from that of the party policies. For example, Dianna protested for a women’s right to choose when it comes to abortion, and supported a number of ‘pro-choice’ amendments on the The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, and protesting for extending abortion rights under the abortion act 1967 in Ireland. However, Abotts work and activism did not work as nothing changed within parliament and no amendments were given to the acts she was trying to change. In contrast, Emmeline Pankhurst, despite the events occurring 90 years prior, had more of an impact, as her suffragette work and participation in protests did contribute to the 1918 Representation of the people act. To sum it up, the work and actions of key individuals such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Dianne Abbot, slowly but eventually did help to progress the women’s movement and the struggle of trying to secure women’s rights. In fact, the actions of Emmeline Pankhurst in particular were more significant and had more of an impact than the first world war.

The Women’s liberation movement was a global effort, but was also big in the UK. The Women’s liberation movement was a feminist movement which took place from the 1960s to the 1970s. At a miss world competition in in November 1970, demonstrators were protesting for free abortion and equal pay. At this protest, the demonstrators were arrested for assault; they were throwing flour bombs, tomatoes and stink bombs. However, their aim was not to be arrested but to be publicized, which worked as they gained widespread coverage in newspapers and on television. The movement was successful, despite people being arrested at protests, as women’s voices became stronger and the protests did in fact cause some laws to be passed that affected women. For example, in 1970, the equal pay act was passed. This act ensured that men and women would receive equal wages for doing the same work, which was big step forward in terms of equality. As well as this, in 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act was passed which outlawed sexual discrimination in the workplace. A year later, in 1976, the Domestic Violence Act was passed, this act was for women in an abusive marriage, it enabled married women to obtain a court order to prevent any or further violence and exclude their violent partner from their home. Prior to this however, the women’s liberation did cause some other laws to be passed for example, The Women’s aid Federation act which was formed in 1974, which provided support for women and children experiencing domestic violence. The fact that an organisation like this was able to pass laws like this in the government shows their power and how much of an impact that they had. To conclude, the women’s liberation movement was significant. Despite the organisation partaking in semi- violent protests at times (which were controversial), they still managed to have an impact both socially and politically, with them giving women a platform to speak and protest for what they wanted, and their efforts managed to lead to major laws at that time-and today- being passed which had a serious impact on women’s lives.

Another factor that impacted the history of women’s rights was world war two, both during and after, as propaganda led to all women (particularly unmarried women) participating in the war effort with 7 million women in war work, but the after effects also had an everlasting impact on women’s rights culturally. During the war time, women took up many ‘male’ occupational roles, for example, working in factories and doing hard labour, women produced munitions, and built airplanes and ships. Women also took up job roles like air-raid wardens, drivers for fire engines, trains and trams, however there still wasn’t equal pay as women was being payed 5.3% less than men. In December 1941, the national service act, it was declared that single women who are aged between 20 to 30, were liable for service in either the women’s auxiliary services or in the munition industries. In addition to this, in February 1942, the employment of women order, it stated that all women aged between 20 to 0 had to be employed through employment exchanges. World war two did have an impact on women’s right, albeit more negatively than positively. Not only did the second world war showcase that women can easily take on the same roles as men and do the job just the same, they also had the chance to escape the normality and traditionality of their domestic lives in the early 1940s (which for some women showed them that women didn’t deserve to be treated the way that they were). We can see this through the war propaganda aimed at encouraging women to work (1). This source shows a woman in the same position as a man to encourage them to join the war effort but also give them false hope as they were not actually treated the same. Also, during this time, many women Mps in parliament developed a sense of ‘cross-party cohesion’ rather than being loyal to just their own party, making them more involved in government. The source is very valid in conveying what women actually experienced during the war, but from a first look creates the false idea that during the war women were treated equally(which they were not). However, the second world war also had its setbacks. Even though, the second world war gave plenty of job opportunities for women, socially they weren’t really given anything, as trade union and employers (who the majority of were men) attitudes did not change, they were the same as their pre-war views and they viewed women and their contributions as a temporary thing, which was basically a last resort due to the men being gone. There was also inadequate nursery provision, which was a thing that woman strongly wanted, as well as the fact that equal pay still did not exist and jobs were still segregated. In addition to this, all the women who were working during the war, was ready to give it all up for their pre-war lifestyle due to the little rewards and change that their work/contributions got them. Women during this time were not ready to challenge their traditional stereotypical role in society. To conclude, the second world war while it did have an effect, it was mostly negative as it changed nothing politically as no legislation was actually passed, and socially things mainly remained the same after the war.

The Dagenham women’s strike of 1968 also had an impact on women in society. The strike was led by key individuals being Rose Bolana, Eileen Pullen, Vera Sime and many others on the 7th of June. The women working there, sew car covers, and as stock ran out car productions were halted, the workers were angry and the protests were over equal pay and their status in the unions grade. The protests and their effort eventually led to the Equal Pay act of 1970 being passed, which made it illegal for men and women to have separate pay scales. However, the protests also inspired trade unionist to found the National Joint Action Campaign Committee for women’s equal rights. This event despite the cause being fairly negative, ended up with a significant outcome, as a major law was passed a significant organisation was passed too. Therefore, the Ford Dagenham stroke played a fairly significant part in securing women’s rights as it did pass a law and socially created a chance for change, and for this reason I believe it was more effective than other factors like the first world war despite the war still being effective.

Another important factor in securing women’s rights, can be said to be a key individual named Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher was a british stateswoman, and leader of the conservative party, but eventually became the first female prime minister of the united Kingdom on the 4th of may, 1979 ( she was also the first female prime minister in the whole of europe too). This in itself was a major success for the women’s movement, to have a female in a really important position of power like prime minister socially shows women they can actually do jobs that are traditionally given to men. Another thing she did that made an impact, was her forceful style of leadership that created an everlasting effect on britain, and the fact she won three majorities. However, it is controversial the actual impact she had on the women’s movement due to the fact she was notable for being ‘anti-feminist’, yet still somehow affecting the women’s movement. For example she often tried to set herself apart from the feminist movement by saying things like “i owe nothing to womens lib” [3]  and “the battle for womens rights has been largely won” [3], whether or not it was to seem tough or perfect, but her attitude was very problematic and made her seem ignorant to the issues of her time, which were in fact still going on and were never solved. Being in her position and the fact she was a woman, gave her the chance to make serious change, which she abused. However, the fact she was the first ever female prime minister in the whole of europe changed the social attitude people had on what women can really achieve politically. To sum up, Margaret Thatcher did not do anything politically to help progress women across the country, or the women’s movement, however she did create an attitude change socially, just because of her position politically being so unusual for a women at that time. But it certainly was not as significant a factor as the first world war was.

To conclude, the first world war obviously did have a significant impact on improving women’s rights during the early 1900 years, as it was a major event that allowed women more freedom, both in the job sector but also socially and verbally let them speak out about the issues they wanted to change. It was effective and very significant as it led to the 1918s People’s Representation Act and the Equal pay Act, however it still had its limitations as women were expected to go back to their pre-war lifestyle, and the legislation that they achieved and worked so hard for to get, still had its setbacks and was not inclusive enough, it did not include everyone as it only applied to women over the age of 30 years old. So, while it was significant in securing women’s rights, it was not the most important factor, as there were key people like Emmeline Pankhurst and movements like the Women’s Liberation Movement which achieved many more inclusive laws- like the sex discrimination act and the National service act – and improved women’s lives socially and politically. For this reason, I believe the first world war was an important factor when it comes to things that helped to progress women’s rights, however it was not as important and effective as other key events in history due to the little change it actually had in society and politically for women, later on in the 1900s.

http://www.striking-women.org/module/women-and-work/world-war-ii-1939-1945

(1) Women in Britain 1900-2000, Annette Mayer, page 90

(2) Feminism a Very Short Introduction, Margaret Walters,141, Page 84

(3) http://womensuffrage.org/?p=549

Historian Interpretations:

(4) Bartley, P.B (1998). Votes for Women, 1860-1928. (Illustrated ed.). : Hodder & Stoughton,

(5)Marwick, A.J.B.M (1991). A history of the modern British Isles, 1914-1999. (Illustrated ed.). : Wiley, 2000.

Media Coverage of Women’s Sports

Women and Sports
Introduction
Media coverage of sporting activities performs a role in shaping attitudes of the society with regards to women’s sports. This is largely attributed to the thousands of hours or sports recording undertaken by the television network record each year. But for many decades, men’s sports activities have dominated the airwaves (Carlisle et al.). The domineering nature of men’s sports has led to women sports receiving little to no airplay; this is in large parts attributed to the lack of equal coverage between the two genders. A recent survey in the United States affirmed that women sports only received 1.6 percent airplay across all television network as compared to 96.3 percent given to men’s sports. This paper takes the position that the mass media is not doing enough when it comes to encouraging women sports (Messner and Cooky). The lack of adequate media coverage with respect to women sports has dealt a negative impact on the growth of the game. Even after the enactment of the Title IX legislation, women are yet to be treated in the same way as their male counterparts (Www2.ed.gov). The legislations ensure that men and women are treated equally when it comes to any activity that is federally funded, sports included.

Problem definition

Mass media companies don’t accord women the same prominence in their sports segments only relegating a small portion of the airtime. Some of the reasons women get little airtime on mass media companies include:
Sexual Objectification
Female athletes are still targets of being sexualized and objectified by the commentators. Despite the commentator not speaking about the athlete in a sexual manner, the inclusion of visual images of the women diverts attention from what is really important (Tanner). This is not an entirely new phenomenon, in the 1920s women basketball players’ pictures were used to draw the cognitive attention of the male audience to come and watch games. The women were being fitted with short shorts and tight t-shirts. Studies conducted in the United States revealed that women objectification has not changes even in the twenty-first century. The revelation was informed of the fact that most television networks were still portraying women in humorous and sexual as compared to their male counterparts. The objectification of women is further aggravated by the comments made by the sports commentators. Most of the commentators are male, as such they take most of the time to objectify women by putting sexual visuals and making trivial jokes that demean women sports (North).
Gender marking
Another impediment faced by female athletes is the gender marking on their game titles. For instance, when an advert is being put up to announce the finals of the feminine game it is always marked as “Women’s Finals Tournament” (Tanner). This is in contrast to their male counterparts when men are playing there are no gender markers in the advertisements. Most broadcasters and mass media companies assert that they use gender markings to differentiate games that are being played at the same time. For instance, In the United States Tennis opens, all the games are played on the same day and at most times simultaneously. Some mass media companies use visuals that reinforce gender difference in games played (Tanner). For instance, CBS’s coverage of the 1989 NCAA basketball tournaments used the pink color to denote women’s matches while using the blue color to denote men matches. The mass media companies ought to drop the genders markers for women games since it gives the notion that women games are in the “others” category (Tanner).

Cause of the problem

This section highlights the different reasons why women are not accorded the same prominence in the sports segment in all major media houses. Some of these reasons include:
Society
Society is another impediment to women’s sport and also gives mass media an excuse to reduce women sports coverage. Society defines that there are games that are lady-like which women can participate, these games include tennis and golf. But when women attempt to play games that are seen to be masculine in nature, the society shuns them. The main point as to why it is difficult for women to participate in such sporting activities is because it is seen as though they are going against social norms and customs. The stereotype with respect to the types of games women should play can be attributed mostly to media framing. Media framing can be defined as pieces or exhibits a journalist, or a news editor considers to be most important (Shaller). Through media framing, the editors bring about the most important characteristics of a story and highlight them; it is also an opportunity for both the editor and the journalist to stress the most important things they consider to be more important to their audience. The use of this tactic has been detrimental to women’s sports coverage; this is because most journalists and editors emphasis on masculinity as compared to femininity (Shaller). Media framing manipulates the audience’s psychology and makes the audience follow what the editor and journalist are putting across. Media framing one of the reasons why men sports are given prominence over feminine games in mass media. Another critical aspect is male hegemony; this can be defined as the process of male domination in the society. The mass media promotes male hegemonic beliefs when it comes to their domineering tendencies in the sports realm (Shaller).
Commentators
The field of commentators is largely dominated by men. A study of all major sports media companies indicated that there was an increasing incorporation of racial diversity in their news coverage (Messner and Cooky). But there was little progress with respect to women being given archonship positions or commentator positions. Most of the women in the sports scene are not regular anchors and used as auxiliary reporters. Despite the accomplishments that have been made with respect to women’s sports participation, there is still sexual segregation with respect to women holding influential positions on the sports desk. The commentator makes remarks that do not reflect women’s professionalism in sports. For instance, a commentator said, “the new mom Candace Parker leads the Los Angeles Sparks,” this was to reinforce the societal stereotype of women. This segregation ensures that the amounts of women sports feature being aired on these main mass media companies would largely remain the same (Messner and Cooky). As already attested to earlier, having more women on board and in positions of making decisions enable them to cover women feature stories better; as they tend to give their female counterparts better airtime as compared to male reporters in the same field. Racial diversity has not yet been emphasized in with regards to women anchors. The study confirmed that women anchors were still largely white, this means that women from all different ethnic backgrounds need to join. This will ensure that women from all walks of life would be able to participate in sporting activities or develop an interest in watching sports feature, this will mirror the accomplishments that have been done by their male counterparts (Messner and Cooky).
Gatekeeping
A study performed in America showed that mass media companies with female reporters as editors tend to shed positive light to women’s sports. The coverage was seen to be more positive with regard to the progress women have made since the introduction of the Title IX amendment. Despite these the positive indicators, the survey also affirmed that female reporters did not offers equitable coverage to women’s sports as their male counterparts (Kian and Hardin). But women reporters were apt to giving women athletes airtime as compared to their male counterparts. The study also confirmed that when an editor wanted a women’s sport story to be aired, he/she would assign the story to a female reporter; but this assignment is largely considered as trivial as compared to male sports (Kian and Hardin). The study also expounded on the decision-making process editors embroil in when trying to make a story coverage assignment; these factors include work routine, expectation of readers, organizational demand and also the editor’s attitudes and biases with respect to the a women’s sports. All these factors encourage editors to further neglect and put aside women sports in their coverage features (Kian and Hardin).

The effects of seclusion

The constant neglecting of women in sports has an effect on consumer utilizing the mass media. It impairs their psychology in that they become bias with respect to what games they can watch and which ones not to. These effects can be explained through:
Cultivation theory
This theory explores the impact the comments made by sports commentators have on their audience (Tanner). This theory is highly applicable to those members of society that are considered to be big consumers of television content. The way these individuals experience the real world would be greatly influenced by the content they have been exposed to while they watched television. The act of cultivation occurs by the continuous accrual of images and voices they pick up while watching television; these pictures and stories that have accrued over time will thus have the ability to skew an individual to be biased against a particular social issue. With respect to sports, people are exposed to sporting actions most of the time during the day; this means they collect images and stories from commentators and store them in their minds. Most of the time, people are exposed to information that does not accurately portray the real image of female athletes. Some of the stories are exposed to suggest women to be sexual objects and does not highlight their competencies as athletes. The continuous accumulation of negative portrayal of women in sport greatly impacts the ability of the audience to be objective when it comes to female athletes; in the end, they dismiss media coverage of women games (Tanner).

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Another effect of cultivation theory is the mainstreaming notion. With respect to mainstreaming, heavy consumers of television content are not affected by the gains made by women in the fields of sports. The events happening in social realities have little impact in influencing these types of individuals; factors like politics, regional differences do not resonate with their belief systems (Tanner). Over the decades, women’s participation in sporting activities has increased. But heavy television users are most time oblivious to these facts while watching television (Tanner). They hold the notion that women are sexual beings and are emotional but do not appreciate their prowess when it comes to sporting actions. These types of individuals also believe that women sports are still second tier as compared to men’s sports; this is further encouraged by the use of gender markers while advertising the sporting actions that are going on. Such individuals in society will always view women as sexual objects first before considering them as competent athletes (Tanner).
Advertisement revenue
Studies indicate that there is a vested interest when it comes to sports journalism. Male athletes are considered to produce the highest turnover with respect to sponsorships, advertisement revenues, and television viewership. In retrospect, mass media companies will gravitate toward covering stories that would culminate in them getting more advertisement revenues. The stories are designed to draw male viewers and increase the advertisement revenues from companies that advertise products while the sports news are commencing. This form of bias against women’s sport relegates women to waiting until the Olympics when they receive considerably better media coverage. In advertising, male athletes are usually chosen (Jones). The reason is because they are more recognized all over the world; this, in essence, means that the advertisement revenue would be higher as compared to when female athletes are on the magazine. Due to the low recognition of women as compared to their male counterparts, media companies are skewed to favor male sports as compared to women’s sports due to the advertisement revenue generated. In most magazines in the United States, men get almost 13 times more photographs in newspapers and sports journals as compared to women athletes (Jones).
Agenda Building
Through agenda building, mass media conglomerates advertise events they believe are important and the audience should be waiting for (Tanner). This is done by carefully choreographic what events to give airtime to and what not to. As already asserted in the earlier, they do this because they have vested interest in the game. By giving prominence to a particular game and neglect, other sends out a message to the audience that some games are far important as compared to the others. This is what happens to women’s games. The media corporations ensure that they give a lot of airplay to games like Nation Football League as compared to women’s soccer (Tanner). This undoubtedly tells the audience that women sports are second tier to men’s games, the corporations also stand to make a lot of income with respect to advertisement that would be brought to them when they will start airing the games. Another factor that leads to poor advertisements for women’s games is the general lack of interest from viewers. The mass media conglomerates assert that the production of women’s events is below average (Kane). The producers of such events do poorly with respect camera work and graphics editing; the combination of these factors renders women’s events as less attractive to the majorly male dominated viewership. They also assert that some features in men’s games are missing, features like slow motion and broadcasting prowess that is in tandem with men’s games (Tanner). Another factor that diminishes the position of women’s sports in media conglomerates is the fact that men are present in all levels of management; this means that they have a say with respect to what stories to highlight and how the stories are going to be shown. Male dominance ensures that all male sporting events are flashier and more glamorous as compared to women’s sporting events (Tanner).

Possible solution

For the mass media companies to make positive change with regard to women sports they need to hire more women. As already cited previously, when women are given the opportunity to interview athlete, they stand a better chance of giving fellow women more airtime as compared to their male counterparts (Kian and Hardin). The second possible solution is the media companies changing their agenda-setting strategies. As mentioned earlier, media companies turn viewers focus towards men’s games, it would be fruitful if the same tenacity is provided towards women sports. This will ensure that more fans gravitate towards women’s sports. These companies ought to invest the same amount of technology with respect to graphics like the ones in men’s sports. It has been cited that people dislike women’s sports due to poor graphics and lack of glamor. If this equipment is put in place, the game stands a better chance to gain more following both locally and abroad. Media companies ought to hire more women commentators who should work alongside their male counterparts (Messner and Cooky). Women commentators will ensure that the use of derogatory phrases and sexually objectifying visuals while depicting female athletes (Kian and Hardin).
Another front to improve women sports is the disbandment of gender makers in games. This phenomenon has been cited to relegate women’s games to the “others” category. The disbandment of gender makers would shed a positive light on women’s sports and make people more willing to watch the games. Finally, media companies have to use media framing in equal proportions; previously it has been used to incline audiences to watch male games as compared to female games. With positive media framing to women’s games, the audience’s psychology towards women’s games would be changed to a less bias one (Shaller).

Conclusion

Since the enactment of the Title IX act, women have made incredible strides in bringing their sports to the mainstream media. The act ensured that everyone participating in any form of sport funded by the federal government should not be discriminated against with reference to gender or race. But there is a considerable amount of resistance from the mass media companies. In tandem with other factors such as the objectification of women as sexual beings rather than considering their athletic prowess are major roadblocks. It is important and necessary that the media organizations put equal emphasis on the way the share out airtime. The media framing used for the men should also be used to women; this will ensure that the public perception of women’s games is gradually changed. This will ensure that the stereotype associated with women in sports is dispensed with, and a culture of professionalism is cultivated. Commentators are also supposed to refrain from making comments that are deemed derogatory to women in sports and also refrain from using visuals that don’t represent the professionalism of women participating in sports.
References
Bernstein, Alina, and Neil Blain. “Sport and the media: The emergence of a major research field.”Sport in Society5.3 (2002): 1-30.
Carlisle, Margaret Duncan et al. ‘Gender Stereotyping In Televised Sports – LA84 Foundation’. LA84 Foundation. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 May 2015.
Cooky, Cheryl, Michael A. Messner, and Robin H. Hextrum. “Women Play Sport, But Not on TV A Longitudinal Study of Televised News Media.”Communication & Sport1.3 (2013): 203-230.
Hanson, Valarie. “The Inequality of Sport: WomenJones, Dianne. “Women’s sports coverage: online images of the 2008 Olympic Games.”Australian Journalism Review32.2 (2010): 89-102.
Kane, Mary Jo. “Media coverage of the female athlete before, during, and after Title IX: Sports Illustrated revisited.”Journal of sport management2.2 (1988): 87-99.
Kian, E. M., and Marie Hardin. “Framing of sport coverage based on the sex of sports writers: Female journalists counter the traditional gendering of media coverage.”International Journal of Sport Communication2.2 (2009): 185-204.
North, Louise. “The gendered world of sports reporting in the Australian print media.”JOMEC journal(2012).
Messner, Michael A., and Cherly Cooky. “Gender in Televised Sports.”Center for Feminist Research(2010).
Tamir, Ilan, and Yair Galily. “Women’s Sports Coverage in Israel: Perception Versus Reality.”International Journal of Sport Communication3.1 (2010): 92-112.
Shaller, Jessica. “Female athletes in the media: Under representation and inadequacy.”Undergraduate Review: a Journal of Undergraduate Student Research8.1 (2013): 50-55.
Tanner, Wendy. “Marginalization and Trivialization of Female Athletes and Women’s Sports through Commentator Discourse A Study of ESPN’s SportsCenter.” (2011).
Women’s Sports Foundation,. ‘Women’s Sports Foundation’. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 May 2015.
Www2.ed.gov,. ‘Title IX And Sex Discrimination’. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 May 2015.
 

Impacts of Climate Change on Women’s Rights

Impacts of Climate Change on Women’s
Human Rights: Bangladesh perspective
1. Introduction
At present, the consequences of climate
change including increased temperature, increased sea level, excess
precipitation, droughts, biodiversity loss, natural disasters and reduced food production
threaten human rights and social justice. These consequences have brought more
adversely impacts on low-income countries, which have produced less greenhouse
gases. In particular, some vulnerable groups such as women are more vulnerable
to climate change because they have weaker ability to address the challenge of climate
change. As one of the least-developed countries in the world, Bangladesh faces
the enormous challenges of the global climate change.

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Women in Bangladesh have been seriously affected by the climate change, with their human rights under great threat. This essay will analyze how climate change affects the human rights of Bangladeshi women and find potential pathways to tackle these problems. It will achieve this by firstly giving definitions and basic analyses about climate change and human rights. Following this it will look at how Bangladeshi women’s rights to life, health and education were affected by climate change. Finally, it will seek to give effective advice for better response to these impacts.
2. Climate Change and Human Rights
2.1 Climate Change
There are two major definitions of climate change that are widely used. The two different definitions are presented by Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). According to FCCC(1992) as cited by Pielke (2004), FCCC that focused on international policy, described climate change as “a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity, that alters the composition of the global atmosphere, and that is in addition to natural climate variability over comparable time periods”. On the other hand, IPCC that focused on scientific assessments defined climate change as “a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer”(Qin, Stocker & IPCC, 2013 : p123-125). It is clear that IPCC give climate change a broader definition than FCCC.
On the ground of FCCC definition,
the reduction of vulnerability cannot be realized except though greenhouse gas
emissions. But according to IPCC definition, there are some measures including
adaption policies effective to address ecological or societal vulnerability
brought by climate change. In this paper, both of this will be taken into
consider.
2.2 Human Rights
Facts and studies have shown that
climate change poses a great challenge to human rights issues. Human rights are
the inherent rights of every individual, regardless of our nationality, place
of residence, sex, ethnicity, religion, language or any other status (Ariella
Azoulay,2015). As United Nations (n.d.) have noted, “human rights included the
right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion
and expression, the right to work and education, and many more”. It is worth
mentioning that the concept of human rights does not remain at the theoretical
level, but is described and protected by International human rights law (IHRL)
and some national laws. For example, in Britain the Human Rights Act 1998 was
introduced to protect human rights.
As women’s human rights are
gaining increasing attention in the context of advocating gender equality, some
research and related institutions begin to focus on the impact of climate
change on women’s human rights and do some work to help local women in the
climatic vulnerable areas.
3. Climate Change’s Effects on Women’s Human Rights in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is one of the countries most
likely to suffer adverse impacts from climate change. This is mainly influenced
by two factors, one of which is its special geographical location and the other
is its social and economic underdevelopment.
The total land area in Bangladesh is
147,570 square kilometers, including 80% of the floodplains. As a result,
during the rainy season, most parts of the country (except the Northwest
Highlands) are prone to flooding. Saleemul Huq(2001)compared
Bangladesh with the Netherlands, indicating that geographical location is not
the only reason why Bangladesh is affected by severe climate change. Bangladesh
and the Netherlands are both low-lying deltaic countries, but the Netherlands possesses
enough financial and scientific capacity to build higher seawalls for protecting
its citizens against natural disasters, but Bangladesh cannot.
3.1 Effect of Climate Change on the Right to Life
Climate change has caused frequent natural
disasters in Bangladesh. Gender issues have always been a marginalized topic in
the context of climate change, but we can still find some gender-related data
in related climate change studies.
Women are less able to escape from natural
disasters. For example, during the 1991 Bangladesh Cyclone, the mortality rate of
women was five times higher than that of men among the 20-44 age group(UNEP,2005).
The reasons why there was a such difference are as follows. First, there is an
imbalance of information between men and women in Bangladesh. Men can
communicate with each other in public places for access to information, while
women are mostly at home, unable to obtain timely and useful warning messages. Secondly,
most Bangladeshi women lack the skills to swim or climb trees, and their
dresses are not conducive to their escape from the disaster. In addition, it is
more difficult for women to get rescuing resources to deal with damage and loss
from extreme weather events because of the long-standing social bias. In other
words, the gender inequality in Bangladesh society contributes to the
vulnerability of local women.
3.2 Effect of Climate Change on the Right to health
As a result of climate change, women’s work
has become even more dangerous and difficult in the society of Bangladesh. In
most poor communities, getting drinking water for their families is the
responsibility for women, just as Bangladesh. Climate change causes problems of
drought and salinization of water in Bangladesh (Aguilar Revelo, 2009). Women
in families have to walk a long distance to obtain water resources, which
consumes a large amount of their time and leads to high risks of injury and even
death in the process.
Climate change have driven child marriage
risks in Bangladesh, with women’s right to health damaged. Natural disasters such
as floods and droughts aroused by climate change have made thousands of people become
displaced and lose their financial sources (e.g. crops). In this “hopeless” situation,
 many parents have to marry their young daughters
off. Girls Not Brides (2017) noted that Bangladesh already had one of highest
rates of child marriage in the world at 52%. Around 30% of girls in Bangladesh
are married before their 15th birthday. Early marriages make these girls more
vulnerable to domestic violence, and pregnancy at a young age is harmful for
women’s health.
3.3 Effect of Climate Change on the Right to Education
High temperatures, droughts and floods have
made farmers in rural areas lose their land, crops and livestock, then these
people have to migrate from villages to the so-called “climate change refuges”in
Dhaka. Education is free in rural Bangladesh, while it is not free in Dhaka  (Jabeen,2014).  In the face of high tuition fees and living
costs, parents choose to let the girls give up education. Gender bias in
Bangladesh society also contributes to the choice. Families often prefer to
give boys the limited educational opportunities and the girls should make an effort
for boys.
Also, gathering water and producing crops
become increasingly difficult due to extreme weather in Bangladesh so that girls
have to stay at home to share the housework. It becomes more and more difficult
for local women to participate in decision-making process of climate change
policy and measures due to lack of education. As a result, many policies and
measures for dealing with climate change are formulated almost entirely by men
and can not accurately satisfy the demands of women.
4. Possible Solutions
Protecting
women’s human rights from climate change needs transboundary cooperation
including international institutions, local government, NGOs. There are some
suggestions to address the issue and to improve women’s human rights in the
context of the climate change in Bangladesh.
First, women’s
empowerment in the decision-making process is of vital importance. Actually, this
concept has been clearly stated in some policies or agreements, but it still
faces many challenges in its practical application. For example,“The Paris Agreement”explicitly requires that gender equality and women’s empowerment
should be taken into account in addressing climate change, and gender
differences should be considered in actions and capacity building to address
climate change(Guiot,2016).
However, in
poor countries, women’s empowerment is not easy to realize in practice because
of social prejudices and the low educational level of women. For better
empowerment, local governments should provide education subsidies or free
education for these climate refugees. Relevant policies should be introduced to
demand that all children including girls receive basic education. Compulsory
education gives girls more employment opportunities and enables them to participate
in the stages of social decision-making, making their voices heard in the area
of addressing climate change issue. Moreover, women’s education optimizes the
demographic structure andthus has a positive impact on climate change. This
creates a virtuous circle.
Secondly, the
infrastructure should be improved. As mentioned earlier, water is greatly
affected by climate change, and women’s access to water becomes more difficult
and vulnerable. It seems impossible to change this culture in Bangladesh that
women should get water for their families, but infrastructure projects can be
implemented in local area to help them get watereasier.
For example, local
governments, corporations or international organizations can invest money and
technology to establish water factories to enable local residents to use clean
tap water directly. In addition, construction of the roads and schools in local
villages can also reduce the time and distance to go to school. As a result,
the way of getting water becomes safe and women can have more time for
education.
Finally, women’s access to early warning information
and the basic skills to deal with disasters should be improved. For example, the
local government and other non-governmental organizations can provide local
women with free disaster-resistant training. Considering the low-level
education of local women, training materials should be designed easy to
understand. And a special information transmission team including female should
be set up to timely transmit important information to women groups and reflect
the demands of women.
5. Conclusion
Women in Bangladesh is one of the most
vulnerable groups when it comes to the impact of climate change. With the
impact of climate change, women not only need to spend more time in domestic
work, but also becomes more vulnerable in the process. Climate change has
aggravated the problem of poverty, leading to the emergence of dropouts and
child marriages. In fact, women’s rights to life, health and education have
been adversely affected by climate change.
Fortunately, more and more agencies and
researchers have been aware of this issue and done some related research. These
research outcomes have been gradually affecting the government’s policies about
climate change. However, increasing the human rights of women in Bangladesh
will require more efforts from multiple agencies. The essay also provides some
possible ways in practice to deal with the problem, including women’s
empowerment in decision-making process, constructing tap water factories,
improving local roads, disaster prevention training for women.
6. References
[1] Qin D, Stocker T.
& Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Working Group I. (2013) Climate change 2013: the physical science
basis, p123-125.
[2] Pielke, R.A.(2004) What is Climate Change? Energy & Environment. 15 (3), 515-520.
[3] Ariella Azoulay. (2015) What Are Human Rights? Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 35
(1), 8-20. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-2876056
[Accessed Nov.3th 2017].
[4] United nations. (n.d.) Human Rights. Available: http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/human-rights
[Accessed Nov.4th 2017].
[5] Saleemul, Huq. (2001) Climate Change and Bangladesh. Science (New
York, N.Y.), 294(5547), p.1617.
[6] United Nations Environment Programme. (2005) Mainstreaming Gender
in Environmental Assessment and Early Warning. Available: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11822/8559[Accessed
Nov.4th 2017].
[7] Aguilar Revelo, L.
(2009) Training Manual On Gender and
Climate Change. Gland, Switzerland, IUCN, pp.120-122.
[8] Girls Not Brides.(2016) How Is Climate Change Driving Child
Marriage? Available: https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/hidden-connections-climate-change-child-marriage-bangladesh/[Accessed
Nov.5th 2017]
[9] Jabeen, H. (2014) Adapting the built environment: the role of
gender in shaping vulnerability and resilience to climate extremes in Dhaka.
Environment & Urbanization. 26 (1), 147-165.
[10] Guiot, J. & Cramer, W. (2016) Climate change: The 2015 Paris
Agreement thresholds and Mediterranean basin ecosystems. Science. 354 (6311),
465-468.
 

Impact of obesity on womens health during pregnancy

Obesity is a clinical term used to describe excess body fat. The most common method of measuring obesity is the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is used because, for most people, it correlates with their amount of body fat. It is calculated by dividing a person’s weight measurement (in kilograms) by the square of their height (in metres). a BMI of 30 or above means that person is considered to be obese (DoH, 2010).
Rising rates –
Obesity is an increasing phenomenon worldwide. In 2008, the Health Survey for England (HSE) data showed that 61.4% of adults (aged 16 or above) in England were overweight and of these 24.5% were obese. They found this was an increase since 1993.
In pregnancy-
In pregnancy the incidence is around 18-19% in the United Kingdom (Kanagalingam et al, 2005).
Between 2004 and 2007, 15% of all UK maternal deaths occurred in women with a BMI of more than 35, half of which had a BMI of over 40. Fifty-two per cent of deaths occurred in women with a BMI of over 25, which is classed as over-weight (Lewis, 2007)
Dangers and complications-
Obesity is a common risk factor in many conditions, especially metabolic (e.g. type 2 diabetes), circulatory (e.g. cardiovascular disease) and degenerative (e.g. osteoarthritis). For women, the risk of gynaecological complications, like endometrial cancer, infertility, menstrual disturbances and ovulation disorders, increase if the woman is obese.
There are many significant risk factors during pregnancy that are affected by obesity. These include early miscarriage, gestational diabetes and pregnancy hypertension/pre-eclampsia (Andreasen et al, 2004/Duckitt et all, 2005/Erez-Weiss et al, 2005/Shaw et al, 2000), venous thromo-embolism and anaesthetic problems, e.g. tracheal intubation or epidural/spinal insertion (Irvine et al, 2006).
If maternal complications develop the fetus/neonate is also at risk of neural tube defects (Shaw et al, 2000), late still birth (Irvine et al, 2006) and neonatal death (Kristensen et al, 2005), fetal macrosomia (Yogev et al, 2005), fetal trauma and neonatal unit admissions (Irvine et al, 2006).
Obesity also causes issues pertaining to the value and reliability of certain aspects of care during the antenatal period. These include difficulties in performing amniocentesis (Irvine et al, 2006), difficulties in achieving venous access, difficulties in performing abdominal palpation (Farrell et al, 2002) and difficulties obtaining ultrasound data for fetal anomalies and growth (Martinez-Frais et al, 2005).
There are significant risk factors due to obesity during the intrapartum period. These comprise increased rates of prolonged labour (Vahratian et al, 2004), risks associated with macrosomia e.g. shoulder dystocia (Irvine et al, 2006/Andreasen et al, 2004), increased rates of operative birth (Irvine et al, 2006/Fraser, 2006), especially for primigravida (Dempsey et al, 2005), difficulties in undertaking instrumental and operative procedures (Irvine et al, 2006/Andreasen et al, 2004) and difficulty siting an epidural or spinal for labour or caesarean section (Irvine et al, 2006).

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Postpartum related obesity issues consist of longer post-operative recovery times and increased rates of post-operative complications, e.g. infections of wounds and urinary tract (Irvine et al, 2006). Women who are obese during pregnancy exhibit a tendency to retain fat centrally on their abdomens postnatally, which may results in increased morbidity and mortality later in life (Soltani et al, 2002). Contraception choices will also be influenced by the presence of complications.
Whilst out on my community placement, I was involved in the care of a woman who had a BMI of 52. We were caring for her postnatally after an elective caesarean section. Most likely due to her weight, the surgeon chose to use metal skin clips on her wound, rather than a suture (Irvine et al, 2006). On day five postnatally we were due to remove alternate staples. However, we could see the wound was still gapping and not fused closed so we left them for one more day. On day six we returned and removed the alternate clips with no problem. Irvine et al (2006) recommend an interrupted suture or skin clips on the basis that if a small haematoma or a localised area of infection develops, a few clips/sutures can be removed to aid resolution.
When we revisited the woman on day eight, we found the wound to be very red, oozing puss and giving off a very offensive smell. The woman simply could not get any air to the wound, due to the ‘over-hang’ of her stomach on to the wound. Even whilst lying down, the stomach still covered the area if it was not held up and supported.
I feel this was an important factor to her getting a wound infection. Due to the over hanging of the pannus, women are significantly at increased risk of wound infection even if given postoperative prophylactic antibiotics (Irvine et al, 2006).
Discuss differing health promotion strategies according to context of the case study
Obesity levels in England have currently reached epidemic levels and Suffolk is consistent with this. Suffolk is below the average obesity level, but this varies across the county (Transforming Suffolk, 2008).
A new project has been launched, called Healthy Ambition Suffolk to make Suffolk the healthiest county in the UK by 2028. Part of this includes tackling obesity.
Governments – 5 a day scheme
In January 2009, the Government began a campaign in response to the rising rates of obesity. Change4Life is England’s first ever national social marketing campaign to promote healthy weight and supports the overall Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives strategy. One of Change4Life’s recommendations is to eat 5 A DAY as part of a healthy balanced diet (DoH, 2010).
Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables everyday seems valuable, however it is hard to see exactly how this will help with the fight against obesity, unless it is thought that consuming more fruits and vegetables will transfer calories from other sources.
Healthy start vouchers
The Government has also introduced another health promotion strategy called Healthy Start. This consists of vouchers with a monetary value which can be used against fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh milk and also infant formula. Not every woman will be able to claim these, they are income assessed and women need to fit certain criteria (DoH, 2006).
Dietian/nutritionalist referrals
In accordance with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE, 2010), pregnant women with a body mass index of more than 30 will be under consultant led care and receive any additional care they require.
Midwives should refer women to a dietician for assessment and advice on healthy eating and exercise. However, they should not recommend weight-loss during pregnancy (NICE, 2008).
In 2003, a report on obesity by the House of Commons demanded six other government departments joined forces. These departments were:
Department of health: Main responsibility as obesity is a public health issue.
Department of culture, media and sport: For promoting sports and physical activity.
Department for education and skills: To ensure that children get adequate physical education at schools and have access to food at schools.
Department for transport: For making ‘healthy’ transport policies to encourage cycling and walking.
Department of environment, food and rural affairs: For farming and produce of healthy food.
Department of trade and industry: For food manufacturing and retail industry
Analyse concepts of poverty, disadvantage and inequality and the impact on childbearing women, babies and their families.
There is evidence that maternal obesity is related to health inequalities, particularly socioeconomic deprivation, inequalities within ethnic groups and poor access to maternity services (Heslehurst et al 2007). Healthy food is often more expensive and gyms facilities and fitness classes are not readily available for low income families.
Analyse and reflect upon the role of the midwife and other professionals in their contribution to the public health agenda
The Faculty of Public Health define public health as “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through organised efforts of society”
(Acheson, 1988). Public health is about promoting physical, mental or emotional well-being by inspiring, educating and empowering the public to stay healthy (CSP, 2010). Midwives play a very important role in achieving this. When initially booking women for their pregnancy care, if there are any health concerns the midwife should advise and refer to other health professionals if necessary.
The role of the midwife has evolved in recent years with more emphasis on a
public health role (DoH, 1993).
It is reasonable to expect that midwives should have a working knowledge of the effects obesity, as well as other common public health issues, including teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse and smoking. They should have an understanding of the common risks associated with obesity and what they should be able to offer by way of support (English National Board, 2001).
The Saving Mothers’ Lives report (2003-2005) carried out by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) recommends that obese women should receive help to lose weight prior to conception. However, this is not always possible.
I believe the Government are currently taking the correct steps to combat obesity. Whilst working on community and undertaking booking appointments, I have not actually seen women being referred for high BMI’s. This is due to my Trust not taking a woman’s height and weight at the booking appointment so their BMI is unknown. These details are recorded when the women go for their 12 week dating scan. Therefore, referrals for high BMI’s are carried out from the antenatal clinic.
As midwives, we are used to managing women with complex needs in partnership with other agencies. I believe it is working within the multi-disciplinary team which gives the best care to women.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) surveyed midwives and new mothers, which were published during Midwifery Week 2008. They showed that due to the shortage of midwives women are being short-changed on essential public health services and advice and are not getting the level and quality of service needed in areas such as obesity, smoking cessation, breast feeding and alcohol intake.
The level of help that obese pregnant women are receiving is a cause for concern. Only 8% of women were offered help and advice, while the amount of women who said they would have liked to have had the service was 30%. The midwives surveys supported these findings, with only a fifth (22.5%) stating that they are able to offer or run obesity clinics, and 71% saying their Trust do not run them (RCM, 2008).
 

Effect on Women’s Land Ownership on the Gender Gap

7. How and in what ways does women’s access to landownership contribute to the gender gap in economic well-being, social status and empowerment? Please provide examples.

1.    Introduction

In this modern age of globalization and ‘supposed’ global prosperity, gender gap continues to persist globally. While there are many factors, such as- wage employment, independent income (Anderson and Eshweran, 2009; Ahmed and Jalil, 2018), education (Robeyns, 2003) that affect gender gap, one of the critical factor is ownership and control of property (Agarwal, 1994). According to Agarwal (1994:1455), “the gender gap in the ownership and control of property is the single most critical contributor to the gender gap in economic well- being, social status, and empowerment”.

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Most of the redistributive policies of the state led economic development (1910-1970) prescribed land reform policies that were gender blind, leading to creation of significant gender gap in women’s ownership and control of land and property, i.e. they were not gender neutral in practice (Razavi, 2009). Such practices perpetuated during the neo-liberal restructuring, where state’s role was marginalized and market based solutions were promoted, primarily because the reforms did not take into account the deep rooted patriarchy that manifested itself in the prevailing institutions, social norms and social relations, resulting in systematic negative bias towards and exclusion of women in land ownership (Deere and Leon, 2001). Research based on cross country analysis in the Sub Saharan Africa showed that market based land reform led to further weakening of women’s land ownership (Razavi, 2009).

The present paper, drawing on various literature by feminist economists and others, discusses the various transmission mechanisms through which women’s access to land ownership, inferring both legal right and control in line with Agarwal’s (1994) argument, affect gender gap in the areas of economic well-being, social status and empowerment.  It must be noted that, there are overlaps and interconnectedness among the concepts of economic well-being, social status and empowerment. The paper is divided into the following 4 sections, the first 3 sections illustrate with specific country examples on how and through what mechanisms access to land ownership affects the aforesaid 3 areas respectively.

The final 2 sections will critique and summarizes the concepts discussed in the paper.

2.    Land ownership to Economic Well-being

Different literature and studies have suggested that access to land ownership is crucial in reducing gender gap, as it can provide a woman with the following benefits, which eventually lead to improved economic well-being: –

economic autonomy through independent income on land and assets,

strengthened bargaining power by enhancing fall back options and

Enhanced security at old age

Ownership and control of land is likely to improve options for women in accessing finance (credit), technical knowledge and assistance, and information (Agarwal, 1994).  Woman who owns a land and also has control over the land can have opportunities to use the land as a shelter, utilize the land to generate income either through lease or by setting up an enterprise (Deere and Leon, 2001). This applies for both single and married women. For married women, land ownership not only enables them to have access to independent income but also to have security in the future at an old age, as in this modern age of neoliberalism, old age benefits are rare and most inheritance laws favour children over widows(Deere and Leon, 2001). One may argue that employment also may generate independent income leading to economic autonomy, however, in most cases such employments are low return, seasonal and informal in nature, thus perpetuating poverty and self-exploitation (Razavi, 2009). As Agarwal (1994) states, “land ownership provides more than employment can, including a stronger base for social and political participation, and so for challenging gender inequality on several other fronts.”

Thus, land ownership can provide women with present and future economic autonomy, as such strengthen her economic well-being. Research also shows that there is a relationship between land ownership and marital violence, women land ownership leads to improved economic autonomy and fall-back option in case of separation. This also acts as a strong bargaining position in intra-household conflict and reduces the likelihood of marital violence, thus improving overall well-being.

3.    Land ownership to Social Status

Land ownership, irrespective of gender leads to enhanced social status as it may suggest that the person owning the land has strong financial security and higher bargaining power compared to those who doesn’t own a property. Historically, in agrarian societies, such as that in South Asia and Latin America, owning a land is crucial and results in enhanced status within the community and society as a whole (Mishra and Sam, 2016). In such societies the land owners are also potential employers who employ labours and workers in their arable lands, giving them a prominent position in the social hierarchy. For women, land ownership not only can bring strong economic well-being as discussed above, but also can strengthen her social status in the community, as Agarwal (1994) strongly suggested that in the South Asian context private rights in land ownership is a privileged position in the society in modern day scenario.

We can see similar pattern in the context of Latin America based on case studies and anecdotal evidence which suggest that, the marriage probability of a peasant women is heightened based on her chances of inheriting land. For instance, in the Northern Peruvian Highlands women who have better chances in inheritance are likely to get married in the same region, compared to women belonging to poorer peasant families with no chance of land inheritance who have to migrate to other regions (Deere and Leon, 2001).

In line with Sen’s Capabilities approach (2001), one can argue that improved Social status through land ownership improves the capabilities set of a woman, thereby allowing her to attain functionings which were previously not possible. For instance, becoming politically engaged is much more likely when one is socially privileged.  Similarly, absence of such status can limit women’s choices and capabilities set (Robeyns, 2003). Enhanced social status gives woman a privileged position in the society which enhances her fall back options and bargaining power.  

4.    Land ownership to empowerment

Feminists define empowerment to be, “the radical alteration of the processes and structures which reproduce women’s subordinate position as a gender” (Young 1993: 158). However, in the field of development, empowerment is often used as a synonymous term for participation and integration into planning and development activities (Kabeer 1997: 120). In modern day context, empowerment can be well-defined as a process of improving one’s deprived situation by challenging and changing existing power relations that are likely to be dominating or exploitative in the social, economic and political spheres (Agarwal 1994). In recent days, feminist economists have focused their discussions of empowerment on ‘economic autonomy’ and its relation to the bargaining power of women in the household and beyond; while the degree of bargaining power is mostly influenced by the strength of the women’s fall- back options (Deere and Leon, 2001), which in turn is strengthened by land ownership (Agarwal 1994). As can be seen form the research in Kerala, India, where it was found that- about 84% women were victims of psychological violence and 49% of physical violence, whereas for women who owned property the numbers were 16% and 7% respectively (Pradeep and Agarwal, 2005).

5.    Critique

Women land ownership certainly has a positive impact on reducing gender gap in economic well-being and other areas. However, the management of land redistribution and ownership are equally important. Taking a simplistic view that access to land is the ‘magic bullet’ or panacea that can solve rural women’s problem is unrealistic (King and Mason, 2001). For instance, market based land reforms are unlikely to be inclusive for low income poor marginalized women, as they do not have the economic resource to participate in such markets in the first place (Razavi, 2009). Similarly focus on decentralization and leaving land reform to ‘community institutions’ (e.g. village councils, ‘traditional’ authorities, or ‘indigenous’ institutions) may also have negative consequences as they are likely to be corrupt, have under-representation of women and due to entranced patriarchy be bias against them (Tsikata, 2003).  Finally, state-led demand driven land reform may “commit the state to respond to applications from social groups that are already constituted, in which it is likely that women’s role will be a marginal and dependent one” (Razavi, 2009). Thus it is important to understand that land ownership can emancipate women but it equally important to focus on the mechanism through which such effort can be implemented.

6.    Concluding Remarks

The present paper showed the prevailing situation where there is a persistent gap in land ownership across developing world. Following this, based on review of literature, the paper tried to show how reduced gender gap in land ownership can lead to improved (reduce gap) in economic well-being, social status and empowerment, particularly through strengthening of women’s barraging power and fall-back position within the household and beyond.  The paper also suggested not taking a simplistic view about land ownership and stressed on the importance of the process, through which landownership among women can be improved.

7.    References

Razavi, S. (2009). Engendering the political economy of agrarian change. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 36(1), 197-226.

Robeyns, I. (2003). Sen’s capability approach and gender inequality: selecting relevant capabilities. Feminist economics, 9(2-3), 61-92.

Arun, S. (1999). Does land ownership make a difference? Women’s roles in agriculture in Kerala, India. Gender & Development, 7(3), 19-27.

Agarwal, B. (1994). Gender and command over property: A critical gap in economic analysis and policy in South Asia. World development, 22(10), 1455-1478.

Panda, P., & Agarwal, B. (2005). Marital violence, human development and women’s property status in India. World development, 33(5), 823-850.

Deere, C. D., & León, M. (2001). Empowering women: land and property rights in Latin America. Empowering women: land and property rights in Latin America.

Anderson, S., & Eswaran, M. (2009). What determines female autonomy? Evidence from Bangladesh. Journal of Development Economics, 90(2), 179-191.

Mishra, K., & Sam, A. G. (2016). Does women’s land ownership promote their empowerment? Empirical evidence from Nepal. World Development, 78, 360-371.

Sen, A. K. (2001). Development as freedom. Oxford University Press.

King, E., & Mason, A. (2001). Engendering development: Through gender equality in rights, resources, and voice. The World Bank.

Tsikata, D. (2003). Securing women’s interests within land tenure reforms: recent debates in Tanzania. Journal of Agrarian change, 3(1‐2), 149-183.

         Understanding the Economic Empowerment of Women: A Study of Handicrafts Sector in Chars and surrounding areas of Bangladesh

         publication date Jan 2018 publication description Journal of Bangladesh Studies, Vol 17(1), Bangladesh Development Initiative, Pennsylvania State University

Young, Kate.  1988 . “Reflections on Meeting Women’s Needs.” In K. Young, ed.,Women and Economic Development: Local, Regional, and National Planning Strategies, pp.  1 – 30 . Oxford: Berg Publishers, and Paris:  unesco .

———.  1991 . “Reflexiones sobre cómo enfrentar las necesidades de las mujeres.” In Virginia Guzmán et al., eds., Una nueva lectura: Género en el desarrollo,pp.  15 – 24 . Lima: Centro de la Mujer Peruana “Flora Tristán.”

———.  1993 . Planning Development with Women: Making a World of Differ-ence, London: Macmillan.

 

Women’s Role In Society In The 1800s

Note: This content is lacking a reference listDuring the early 1800’s, women were generally trapped in their homes and would only perform domestic chaos and duties. Nature and the society had given them roles as the home keepers, ethical keepers for the home and the entire society, as well as house wives for their families(Wayne, 2007, p.99).. The roles as house wives were to bear children, take care of the young ones as well as submitting to the husbands. Socially, women were considered weaker hence unequal to their men counterparts. Some people would compare such a condition as slavery. Women had no control of their lives. Everything was entirely controlled by the men in the society. First, their fathers and brothers would control them when they are still young and when they are married, their husbands would finally control them (Bakken & Farrington, 2003, p. 327).

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Their key purpose was to look for a husband, give birth and take care of their husbands through out their entire lives. It was a taboo for a woman to remain single; in fact, single women were scorned and pitied by the society. A woman owned property when she was still in her father’s house but after she got married, property ownership shifted to the husband. The husband had a right to access everything that a woman had, as well as her own body (Wayne, 2007, p.17). For these women, marriage was a lifelong commitment. Women were not supposed to divorce; they were expected to live with their husbands even if it meant to live in miserable marriage. Divorce was highly punishable and the woman would always fall a victim (Wayne, 2007, p.5). This did not only undermine their physical requirements but also destroyed their opportunities of having any kind of freedom. It subdued their voice of influence thus giving them no hope of attaining social recognition.
Women were not allowed to venture into any other activities apart from taking care of her family. The husband was the sole breadwinner of the family. The only source of finance was the husband hence the only chance for women to be economically protected was for them to marry men who were financially secure. This made them more dependent on men and if the man died, they would be left with no source of income apart from her husband’s savings. The society looked at women as asexual beings; people with neither feelings nor a life of their own (Wayne, 2007, p.17).
However, during the 1800’s, women’s movements became so effective that women began to challenge the social, traditional, economical as well as the political intellectuals that had hindered them for a long time. This was the starting point for the turn about of their roles in the society.
Throughout history, women have had less legal rights and occupation opportunities, hence less representation compared to their male counterparts. Motherhood and wifehood were considered as their most major professions (Burgess & Brown, 2000, p. 137). Towards the end of nineteenth century however, most women had won the rights to vote, and had increased their chances to access education and other professions initially considered for men. Marriage was considered very essential and significant for the sake of the stability of the society. Women were therefore expected to be very obedient and submissive in order to have a happy and stable marriage. During these times, education was a disputable topic and it was the first topic that motivated women into protesting. However, not a single feminist could come up with a means through which education would be equalized between girls and boys. Only the daughters of rich parents would get formal education. Educated girls were however perceived as unattractive sexually, thus getting marriage was a big struggle for them (Bakken & Farrington, 2003, p. 327).
The only subject that girls were taught in school was language; reading and writing. Other courses included wifely responsibilities and activities such as knitting, midwife, cooking and waving among others (Burgess & Brown, 2000, p.118). Women began to form “women rights movements” which helped them in protesting against slavery as well as men dictatorships. These movements led to revolution which eventually led to the constitutional amendment processes which brought about the eradication of slavery. This was a great achievement on the women’s history since they could freely speak out their views.
In the mid 1800’s, women became resistant to the oppression by men and they wanted to become totally independent. As a result, they protested for equal education opportunities and religion activism. It was not that easy; women had to fight both men and fellow women. Men in general overlooked upon feminists and those women who were still dedicated to the traditional way of life, did not want to hear anything concerning women independence. The only place in which women got total support was the church, which also had its own interest. Women became successful in these reform movements and for the first time in history, men became challenged by the female domination (Bakken & Farrington, 2003, p. 167).
Women thus began to perform duties outside their homes. This meant that they would cook, nurse and educate young people for a pay. They also became teachers, nurses and secretaries; which were the only jobs that the society accepted women to pursue (Wayne, 2007, p.78).. Nevertheless, a woman was only supposed to work as long as she was not married, but once married, she was expected to stop working and take up her role as a wife and mother. During this time, being a housewife necessitated a wide range of multifaceted abilities since almost all items were home made (Wayne, 2007, p.77).
However, their employment opportunities expanded during the industrial revolution period. Many women worked in the new industries so as to fill the vacant places. The public school system also expanded thus leading to many more women to be employed as school teachers (Wayne, 2007, p.86). Nursing also became a highly regarded job for women in 1850s following the restructuring in hospitals and the nursing career. The civil war also contributed greatly to the evolution of women roles in the society. It resulted to many women getting jobs in the government and other offices, that were initial held by men, so as to fill in the positions evacuated by men as they went to fight. After the civil war, women continued to work in the government since they had proved to men that they could really work (Wayne, 2007, p.94). Another thing that encouraged women into employment was the discovering of a typewriter. Research found out that women would make better typists than men hence women were all over as typists and sales clerks.
By 1870, women learning prospects had improved drastically. There were additional schools for girls and most colleges could also admit women for advanced courses. By the end of 1880, women had made up approximately one third of the total population of students in the United States (Wayne, 2007, p.85). At the same time, women attained more legal rights with the establishment of more movements and acts. For instance, the married women property act allowed married women authority over their own properties. Her property was hers and not her husband’s (Bakken & Farrington, 2003, p.318).
 

US Civil War Impact on Women’s Suffrage Movement

In 1848 two women, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Stanton, host the first ever Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. This convention would be the beginning of a long women’s suffrage movement to occur in the United States. At first they made slow but steady gains within the states. In 1849 the state of California extends property rights to women, Vermont would follow in 1852. But these were mere stepping stones towards the long term goal of attaining full rights to vote for women. Most states did not have the appetite to support such legislation during that time. And when in 1853 the women delegates were not allowed to even speak at the World’s Temperance Convention in New York City, it looked as though the movement was starting to dissipate from national attention. But eleven years later civil war would break out in America ultimately dividing the country and stop all momentum of the women’s movement. The roles women would play during the civil war would play an integral part of the resurgence of the women’s suffrage movement post war.

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To understand the role that the civil war played in the women’s suffrage movement you must go back to the beginning of the feminism era and understand how feminism sparked the women’s movement. Maggie MacLean summarizes feminism as the demand for equal political, economic, and social rights for all women regardless of their ethnic background (MacLean 2015). Established goals were to combat discrimination and to create more opportunities for women that were equal to men. They looked to do this by using a variety of strategies specifically they tried getting a national amendment for the right for women to vote. They did this taking on a multi-facet approach. By creating state legislation that would assert their rights under state legislatures, then by utilizing the court system to ascertain rights and by going directly after the 14th amendment. This strategy showed signs of working up until the civil war broke out.
The outbreak of the civil war left no room for the women’s movement, all attention was focused on the war and the battles that were being fought on the fields and on the home front. Men were being called into the war by the thousands, leaving women at home to tend to the care of the families and the farms. And as the war dragged on, women were being called into service to fill non traditional roles that had been previously primarily been filled by men.
Women from both the north and south would become actively involved in various aspects of the war effort. Some women, like Loreta Veldzquez, went so far as to disguise her identity to serve directly in battle. There are several documented cases of women fighting bravely side by side their male counterparts in battle. History would later label them as trailblazer for women looking to directly serve in the military in the future.
 Although women soldiers are commended for their contributions to the war effort, most women found other means to contribute to the war. They nursed wounded soldiers, dictated and relayed conversations stowed and carried messages on their person, cared for the disabled men when they returned home and learned to operate and take charge of the home front responsibilities. Their examples of courage and self sacrifice challenged the traditional notions of feminine domesticity (American Battlefield Trust). Women began to believe that their contributions were having an impact on how they were perceived by their male counterparts. And in the short term, on a limited basis, this concept was true. At the beginning of the war women were protected no matter what side they were associated with but as the war progressed and women played more active roles mindsets changed. Women were viewed as reliable sources and relevant to the strategies of campaigns. Those found in occupied territories were required to take loyalty oaths, which was a shift in how they were viewed from passive observers of the war to active participants (Bahr 2009). This was illustrated by Mary Boykin Chestnut’s quote, “It is so delightful to be of enough consequence to be arrested” (Bahr 2009). This recognition that women may be actively involved in the war brought to light ethical issues of how women should be treated if captured in enemy territory. At the beginning of the war both sides treated women lightly for any transgressions, even if they were wives and daughters of the enemy. However, as the war progressed and their contributions increased and became more noticeable on both sides, punishment for women increased dramatically. Women were captured and spent time in prison camps. Confederate women found to be working in conjunction against the union would be charged and sentenced for treason. As women’s roles changed during the war so did the perception of women’s gender roles and responsibilities. These perceptions would play a contributing part in the resurgence of the women’s movement after the war.
As the war wound down, many women were forced to return to their traditional domestic roles. But many women felt empowered by the war and this brought new energy and urgency to the suffrage movement. The war had given them a sense of control over their own lives, they had made decisions for the family, earned and controlled personal finances and even entered paid employment for such industries as government services, public schools and trade industries. Many of these women embraced the new found independence and were no longer willing to complacently return to the roles they occupied prior to the war.
Although the war itself did not elevate a women’s status, the large void created by the deaths of approximately two percent of the male population, or around 620,000 men, did alter the landscape (Bahr 2009). Women began to attend college for the first time in record numbers, they sought employment outside the home and they did not look at marriage as the same means of stability as they once did.
Before the war women were barred from attending the majority of higher education institutions but after the war many land grant universities sought to recruit women and give them educational opportunities normally only offered to men. These institutions provided a variety of opportunities but none as profound as in the medical profession. Women demanded and fought for coeducational curriculums not segregated by gender. As attendance rose it was met by resistance, critics who believed that women not only didn’t belong in institutions of higher learning but by attending they could do physical harm to themselves (Dubois & Dumenil, 2016). Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Edward Clarke asserted in his widely respected Sex and Education (1873) that intellectual work damaged a women’s reproductive organs (MacLean 2015). Faced with such harsh criticism women felt the need to prove college life would not do them physical harm and graduated in record numbers.
Capitalizing on their education women began to look around and understand better ways to rally for political inclusion and promote the ideals of suffrage, thus altering the pre-war notions about gender roles. One area of major focus was the right to vote. During the civil war women worked in conjunction with the abolition movement to gain rights for both African Americans and women but after the war the two groups would become divided over the wording of the 15th amendment. The 15th amendment, ratified on February 3, 1870, states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (Shafer 2013). Because this amendment did not specifically specify rights for women many leaders of the movement, such as Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, would not support it and felt empowered enough to split from the abolitionists.
 It would be this new found sense of independence earned from the struggles of the civil war that would breathe new life into the women’s suffrage movement.
References

 

Media Coverage of Women’s Sports

It may be argued that the media coverage given to women’s sports, especially cycling, results in less participation uptake. Through the framing and stereotyping of female sports coverage coupled with statistical evidence, it is clear that there is a disparity (Brookes: 2002). This research project design aims to explore the factors underlying the disparity and will do this by analysing television and media content and interviewing consumers of televised sport. Firstly, I will set out the core theories surrounding gender representation in general and audiences, before focusing on the relationship between gender and audiences for sport, in particular cycling and the gender representation within it.

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Additionally, this essay will also set out the ways in which primary research will be undertaken with a focused, multi faceted approach and will include interviews and content analysis. Finally, on completion this project will go some way to explore gender disparity within the sport of cycling and attempt to give some reasons why this is happening. Upon reflection, it will suggest the positive and more difficult aspects of the project and highlight ways in which these difficulties may be overcome for moving forward.

 When beginning this project, I firstly believed it was important to explore broader topics with regard to audience and gendered representation to give an in-depth background to the subject matter. Therefore, I found Rolland Barthes ‘Images, Music, Text’ to be very insightful (Barthes: 1977). This text explained theoretical ideas behind images suggesting they are constructed intentionally by the creator to present an idea to an audience. I believe this is an important study for my own research project as it involves decoding meanings in moving images and furthermore will assist in answering why a disparity in the television coverage, which is resulting in disproportionate representation between genders, is occurring.

 Following this, I then began to explore the specific topic as a whole with special focus on gendered representation and sports relationship on the television, and how this differed in Hollywood films and in sports coverage. Therefore, I found Hills and Kennedy’s chapter ‘Representation of coaching through film’ very insightful (Hills and Kennedy: 2012). Their argument centred on three films where the audience observed a coach-player relationship and found that “the majority featured a male protagonist in the role of a coach, who performs masculinely” (Hills and Kennedy: 2012: 40). I was struck that the majority lacked female representation and that the “carefully crafted, idealised constructions of masculinity in Hollywood” (Hills and Kennedy: 2012: 40) were exceptionally apparent in these films. I believe this article can be transferred into my own research project as it depicts that “the media do not simply reflect or represent gender difference, but they help construct that difference” (Saco: cited in Hills and Kennedy: 2012: 41). This idea was further supported as “portrayals of masculinity in sports films help construct the gender identities for their audience” (Hills and Kennedy: 2012: 42) and if this is something that is happening in blockbuster Hollywood films, such as, ‘Coach Carter’ it follows that this is also to be the case in the coverage of sports, supporting the argument that the majority of the audience think women playing sports is not a normal occurrence. This text is incredibly important to my own research project, as I believe it gives insight into a potential cause of gender disparity and stereotyping within sporting media. What started as a “backlash against feminism…” (Hills and Kennedy: 2012: 43) became a gender imbalance that can be viewed across the majority of sports coverage on television.

Another very relevant paper focusing on these key issues so far is Scraton and Flintoff ‘Gender and Sports: A reader’ (Scraton and Flintoff: 2002). A chapter I found particularly relevant was ‘Sports, Bodies and Gender’, as this area of study explores the relationship between sport and the media. Furthermore, it also investigates sports’ feminism and how women’s’ sports have a significant lack of power in the media compared coverage of male sports. Hegemonic athleticism and other hegemonic constructions are steadied through sport and this is argued by Scraton and Flintoff who state that sport is “socially constructed out of gender, race and class…” (Scranton and Flintoff: 2002: 17). Furthermore, they suggested that despite sports being “gender contested” (Scraton and Flintoff: 2002: 24) it is apparent that “men’s sports are still dominant in commercial value…” (Scraton and Flintoff: 2002:24).

 Moreover, ‘Women, Social media and Sport’ by Pam Creedon is an article that has been fundamental to developing my understanding of this topic (Creedon: 2004). It investigates how an audience views sports with the modern development of social media. This is an area that is relevant to my own research, as “60% of sports fans now go online for updates” (Creedon: 2014: 711). Despite this, Creedon invokes that although this development has brought about some changes “the values used to cover and construct representations…of women’s sport have not changed” (Creedon: 2004: 711). Using the example of the 2012 Olympic Games, Creedon further explores this and suggests that although throughout this sporting event women were given more air time, the “media coverage remained gendered…” (Billings et al: 2014), for example, the bikini wearing beach volleyball players made the news multiple times. Therefore, this clearly portrays how although in todays’ society “the Internet and web have radically changed…the coverage of women’s sport remains insultingly trivial…” (Creedon: 2014: 715).

 The key theories I found in Whiteside and Hardin’s ‘Women (not) watching women’ is another academic work that I believe is relevant to my research design project (Whiteside and Hardin: 2011). Their article investigated the issue that although “a lot of women play sport…they do not watch it on television” (Whiteside and Hardin: 2011: 122). This is fundamental to this research project as, if more women watched women’s sport coverage this would mean it would increase and thus also would the sponsorship of professional female athletes. Similarly, the research of Whiteside and Hardin offers many suggestions as to why women are not viewing sport at home including not enough spare time and wanting to achieve other more important things first. It is argued this differs with their male counterparts, who will allocate specific time slots to view sport.  Finally, Whiteside and Hardin also consider whether sexual orientation of participants would create different reactions to viewing sport.

To conclude, all the media texts used within this literature review convey the issues facing gender equality within sports coverage. I believe the text that makes the greatest contribution is Duncan and Hasbrook’s chapter ‘Denial of power within televised women’s sports’. It can be said this is because it highlights many of the hypothesies that this project aims to investigate and in addition conveys key theoretical framework I wish to pursue.

Having begun this project and completed a literature review of material, I am able to establish the questions I wish to focus on within this project. I believe the disparity within television coverage is great and therefore this must be analysed with the theoretical framework of representation and audience. Thus, using broader work such as Barthes alongside more specialized work, for example, Creedon, conclusions will be able to be made to establish why this disparity is occurring.

 As acknowledged above when beginning this research question it has been important to begin with wider topics of argument before narrowing down and focusing on more specialist theories. Therefore, I began my theoretical framework with a focus on Roland Barthes who suggests images are coded messages for an audience (Barthes: 1977). The audience and their perception of the content is an important part of this research project and thus through three categories of messages their meanings may be broken down. The first area is linguistic messages, which assists the audience into formulating the opinion the media platform wants them to have (Barthes: 1977). Text –or in the case of this research project- commentary is an addition of this and is the most important part. Therefore, the combination of these two messages aims to target the audience with the right message. However, I believe this could be affected by the dominant discourse within society and thus when investigating the commentary within the content analysis I will keep both Barthes argument and my own hypothesis in mind. Other aspects of Barthes argument focused on coded and non-coded messages and suggests that some images are merely raw, what we see in these is what is meant but other images or in the case of this research project, video, have more hidden meanings (Barthes: 1977). These are understood with reference to our own cultures and knowledge and will differ between people or countries (Barthes: 1977). Therefore, this must be considered when analysing the coverage for this project and the ideology behind the audience must be considered.

Having looked at the wider arguments, it is then possible to become more specific and discuss the theories that are specific to this research project. Thus, the debate around gendered representation in sport has been investigated. This will provide a more concentrated idea of the arguments surrounding the topic I wish to research and will investigate areas of the hypothesis posed. It is constantly suggested that due to its large amount of output, television coverage produces the largest monetary source for companies. As such, there have been many debates with regard to television that suggest that gendered representation is not equal. Thus, it can be said that when researching this, both the realism and entertainment values of the coverage must be considered (Brookes: 2010). As “60% of sports fans go online for updates…”(Creedon: 2014: 711) it can be argued that the way sports fans engage with sports has changed and gendered representations in the media such as newspapers is less common. This is also due to the way in which sports stars are depicted on social media sites, for example, Instagram, creating less of a gendered representation divide. However, it must also not be disregarded that gendered representations are still dominating media texts in modern day society (Creedon: 2014).

Having suggested the theoretical framework that will be followed when completing this research project, the methodological approaches must also be explained. The methods used for this research project design will include both quantitative and qualitative research approaches and therefore will have a mixed methodological approach. I have raised some issues and asked some questions in this design and I will research based on observations and the understandings of others. When undertaking the qualitative methods, both social constructionism and subjectivism will be applied using the format of questionnaires and individual interviews. This is because it uses knowledge theories “that emphasize that the world is constructed by human beings as they interact” (O’Leary: 2017: 382) and furthermore because through personal experiences I will be able to build a foundation of fact for my project.  The content analysis within this project will review the television coverage of the Tour de France and La Course (the women’s equivalent). The stage covered is the same course for both men and women and the live coverage is 4 hours for the men, and 2 for the women. Before I begin analysing it, I will set out a list of areas, which will be focused upon, and these will include the number of interviews and hours. Moreover, alongside this the language used by pundits within the commentary will be assessed to see whether this differs between genders. I believe the language used by individuals is a key point to explore in this project, as this is what would influence an audience and would in turn affect things like, sponsorship and future coverage. 

I will be using data collected from people through face-to-face interviews with specific individuals who are knowledgeable on the topic this project is focusing on. I will also be using data collected from analysing television coverage from specific days of cycling of both men and women.

Furthermore, during interviews it will be important to remember to have a good rapport with participants and to display understanding and knowledge of the topic so to ensure they feel comfortable with the topic being discussed. This will allow for the most successful results to be achieved. Due to the sensitive nature of some of the topics an ethnographic approach will be employed for this topic as it is the “personal aspects that are the most favourable” (Freund and Fieldings: 2013: 330). As stated above it is important to have a curiosity with regards to the subject and this should be considered by myself as the researcher and additionally using an ethnographic approach will mean the interview can happen in the participant’s own environment.

Moreover, another aspect that must be considered is the privacy of the subject; something that is essential when collecting data from participants as trust must be established (Krotoski: 2010: 4) and be maintained at the data collection stage.

To conclude, this project focuses specifically on women’s representation in sport and uses theoretical framework to support this. The academics that will be focused on most are Margaret Carlisle Duncan and Cynthia A. Hasbrook. Alongside this, scholars for example Pam Creedon have also played a key part in influencing research with their focus on the 2012 Olympics and women’s’ role in the media within this. Finally, this research design project will also go someway to consider why there is a gender disparity within sport and more specifically within cycling. It will further invoke that the low number of women watching sport is due to a lack of leisure time and other commitments, such as family. Moreover, it will also consider whether traditional gender roles are somewhat imparted through hegemonic conventions that society feeds subconsciously and therefore rapid change is not possible.

Commentary draft:

This research project has been worked on for some months now and, as it is something that I find interesting has been exciting to work on.  Through keeping a diary of the research I have completed, I believe I am able to clearly portray how I arrived at the design. The commentary will discuss areas, which have worked well and others, which have had to be redesigned so they fit within constraints, such as the time frame. It has been an exciting project to work on and I believe has the basis to be an interesting piece of research.

I approached the project firstly by focusing on broad topics of research that discussed audience and arguments that surround their engagement with gender and platforms. I believed that to be important as my project centres on the representation of the sport of cycling and how the audience’s consumption differs with regards to gender. Having then completed broader research, arguments that were more focused and specific to the chosen topic were investigated. This work centred on gendered representation in sport and whether this is something that is changing or not. Moreover, as the majority of theorists suggested there was a disparity I also wanted to investigate why this is occurring. As a result of this, I have built up strong arguments using theorists and scholars, and similarly have supported this with my own primary research.

The research for this project begun with investigating theorists who explore audience and the way they interact with visual content. I became more focused on the idea of gendered representation in sport having considered my own passions and that I found many of the arguments I was studying were replicated within sport, especially my own sport of cycling. Therefore, it was a natural progression to focus the topic around this area and the disparity within it.

Deciding the content for my literature review was very challenging as there was a lot I wished to include. I chose the works based on those that stood out clearly to me and which explained the argument I wished to convey in the best way. Beginning with broader topics of audience and then focusing I found was the most successful way of achieving this.

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As I have progressed with this project I have changed my view on certain aspects, such as, which academics to include and what footage I can accurately analyse in the given time. Therefore, as a result of this I have limited the analysis to one day making it more manageable within the timeframe of this project. More specifically, I have developed an increasingly concise argument and focused on academics that have studied gendered representation within sport, for example, Pam Creedon. 

The hardest thing to overcome when completing this research was creating the theoretical argument. I found after researching broader theories, such as, Barthes, many academic studies of gendered representation in sport were too dated and did not match with modern televised coverage of today. As a result of this, I also believe this is potentially the weaker part of the design project. Therefore, I have made an effort to support it with specific theorists, such as ones who look at hegemonic conventions and societies subconscious acceptance of gender stereotyping.

The strongest part of this research design project is the data analysis and interviews. I think the mixed methodological approach created a well-rounded argument that allows the exploration of my research question and get an in depth analysis of the problems within the questions posed.

Another aspect of concern was that I was conscious that before beginning this research project I had not completed research of this length before. Therefore, when studying I used multiple research-focused books to assist with planning this project and forming the framework of my ideas. However, the research guide that has been most helpful when writing my design project has been O’Leary, Z. (2017). Doing your research project. 3rd ed. This guide gives a comprehensive account of each step needed to be taken to achieve a well thought through project and thus, I used its methods to create my own design.

From undertaking this research project, I have learnt a lot regarding both the practical aspect of designing the project and in addition the formation of the theoretical framework that must be created from the foundation of a hypothesis. I believe I have designed a research project that would be interesting and informative to an audience, one that poses questions and has the research base to be able to offer credible answers.

Bibliography

Barthes, R. and Heath, S. (1977). Image, music, text.Bertine, K. (2014). Half the road. [DVD].

Brookes, R. (2010) Representing sport. LaVergne, TN: Hodder Education.

Creedon, P. (1994). Women, media and sport: challenging gender values. Sage Publications.

Creedon, P. (2014). Women, Social Media, and Sport. Television & New Media, 15(8), pp.711-716.

Franks, S. and O’Neill, D. (2014). Women reporting sport: Still a man’s game?. Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, 17(4), pp.474-492.

Hansen, A. (2013). Media and Communication Research Methods. 1st ed. Palgrave Macmillan.

Freund, K. and Fielding, D. (2013). Research ethics in fan studies. Participations, 10(1). 

Krotoski, A. (2010). Introduction to the Special Issue: Research ethics in online communities. International Journal of Internet Research Ethics, 3(1), pp.1-5. 

O’Leary, Z. (2017). Doing your research project. 3rd ed

Potrac, P., Kennedy, E. and Hills, L. (2012). Routledge Handbook of Sports Coaching. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, pp.40-51.

Whiteside, E. and Hardin, M. (2011). Women (Not) Watching Women Communication, Culture & Critique, 4(2), pp.122-143.

The Sustainable Development Goals, Violence, Women’s, and Children’s Health

Chapter Number and Title: Claudia García-Moreno & Avni Amin (2016), The Sustainable Development Goals, Violence, Women’s, and Children’s Health: Bulletin of World Health Organ; 94:396–397

 

Introduction

 

Women in developing countries as well as indigenous communities are vulnerable facing different forms of violence and risks, which retard their standard of living and their social esteem. Women and children of all ages should be empowered and there is the need for their integration in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs by policy makers.

Women empowerment has an impact on achieving sustainable development since women play a vital role in the development process hence there is the need to address all developmental issues affecting women. Sustainable development according to Robles (2018) is a western concept. However, developing countries can adopt measures to achieve sustainable development in some decades to come. There are about seventeen sustainable development goals established to achieve sustainable development of which the article explained how some of the goals are linked to women, children development. It is evident that sustainable development is a long term and achieving the goals especially in developing countries is a challenge.

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The aim of this paper is to review an article entitled; “The Sustainable Development Goals, Violence and Women’s And Children’s Health” by Claudia García-Moreno & Avni Amin. The article did not come out with specific objective(s) however, it can be understood from its content that the researcher reviewed how health sector, women and children development can support the achievement of sustainable development.

The article concluded that, there are two sustainable development goals that integrated women empowerment and children development. Also, the health sector plays a vital role by supporting other sectors to implement programs and policies as well as play a vital role in dealing with violence against women and children. The article suggested that there is the need to prevent violence against children to improve their health and development, which is a vital approach to also address violence against women. The author also added that sustainable development goals would help to achieve sustainable development.

Development (Book’s Main Arguments)

According to the researcher, sustainable development goals exhibits a chance to attain the efforts on preventing violence against women by government in several earlier declaration as explained by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The researcher speculated that two goals are linked to Sustainable development namely SDG 5 and SDG 16.The author revealed that SDG 5 deals with gender equality as well as women and girls empowerment. The goal according to the researcher involves two particular targets (target 5.2 and 5.3) aimed to eradicate violence and harmful practices. The researcher further explained that Target 5.2 aimed to “eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation”. Target 5.3 on the other hand aimed to “eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation”. According to the researcher, these targets helps to address all kind of violence and dangerous activities against women and girls which facilitate gender equality and women empowerment and will promote sustainable development.

The researcher stated that SDG16 also enhances peace, justice and strong institutions for sustainable development that focus on target 16.2 to eradicate different kinds of violence against children.

The researcher elaborated that there is proper documentation of the social and economic cost and harmful effects of violence on the wellbeing and health of women and children. The researcher was on the point that there is greater patronage of health-care services by women going through violence and the those health services can support women’s accessibility to different services such as social services like housing, legal or police services. The researcher argued that the health sector in most countries is less involved in “multi-sectorial response” to enhance the prevention and respond to violence as compared to other sectors. The article emphasized that the health sector needs advocacy and political will to play a vital role in enhancing violence against women.

The article revealed that the World Health Assembly embraced a resolution in May 2014 dubbed; “Strengthening the role of the health system in addressing violence, in particular against women and girls and against children.” The article further elaborated that this resolution requested the World Health Organization (WHO) to create a “global plan of action” in solidification of health system role in dealing with interpersonal violence specifically against women, girls and children. The article added that the action plan implementation needs to be steered by the principles of gender equality, human rights and health equity. The article hinted that there is the need for health leaders and policy makers to openly challenge the social acceptance of violence against women and children hence policy makers need to include “violence prevention and response programming into national health plans, strategies” and human and financial resources distribution to facilitates their implementation.

The health sector according to the article will promote programs fight against social norms and attitude that overlook male violence against women as well as supporting the power of men over women, children and other men. The article hinted that the health sector could support other sectors in the implementation of programs and policies to develop access to services as well as help to create other measures for income generation for women.

The researcher stated that, it is proven that children experiencing violence are more likely to continue violence in their life and experience “have behavioral, emotional and mental “health problems during their childhood and adolescence”. In the light of this, the article emphasized there is the need to prevent violence against children to improve their health and development, which is a vital approach to address violence against women.

The health sector according to the article can help give psychosocial support to children whose mothers have been exposed to violence which in other words support women against violence. The researcher further revealed that government is mandated to establish baseline data and invest in an organized collection of data on women experienced through “population-based surveys”.

Conclusion

It is evidence from the article that, women and children are areas of focus in some of the Sustainment Development Goals in attempt to achieve sustainable development. The article made mention of SDG 5 and SDG 16 which focus on women empowerment and children development however the article did not “quote” the goals to give readers clear understanding of how those goals are linked to women and children development. According to Robles (2018), Sustainable Development is a western concept, which implies that developing countries will find it difficult to achieve this vision. Women and children in developing countries and indigenous communities are mostly faced with violence and risks so the question one can ask is, “Is Sustainable Development Goal 5 and 16 for women and children in western countries or developing countries or “both”? This critical question need to be asked because sustainable development concept is a western concept and if those two goals focus on western countries, achieving sustainable development will be a challenge. This is because the western countries depend on developing countries for survival in some sectors of the economy especially in the agricultural sector where women play an essential role in food production. Additionally, women and children in developed countries are not mostly experiencing violence and risks but rather women in developing countries are experiencing different forms of violence. This implies that the concept should include indigenous knowledge as well as developing countries and decision makers should adopt grassroots approach in its attempt to achieve sustainable development globally.

The article made a very good point that, the health sector has a great impact on other programs and policies implementation however; the article did not give detailed information of this point. Explanation can be given that the health sector is one of the important sectors of the economy that has great effect on other sectors of the economy such as economic, social and environment. This means that the health sector promote human resources(labor force) which is eventually needed to enhance the economic sector mostly and when the economic sector is improved, decision makers will get more tax revenue to improve the social sector of the economy. I agree with the article on the point that good health system will help reduce violence among women, girls and children because it will make them more active in economic activities to generate sustainable income for their standard of living and improve their social esteem to fight for their fundamental human rights.

 According to Sachs (2015), sustainability development goals are difficult to be accomplished on the new development agenda by global leaders to facilitate improved standard of living of people in the world. This means that, there should be more adoption of approaches and strategies to achieve sustainable development. Sustainable development definition is ambiguous according Robles (2018). The concept can be achieved when there is holistic approach to the concept where there is integration of economic, environmental and social factors. Additionally, decision makers should incorporate indigenous knowledge and promote of education in the concept.

References

Sachs, J. (2015). The Age of Sustainability Development. New York: Columbia University Press: 10, p. 316-356

Robles, W. (2018). Lecture notes on Rural Sustainability: Brandon University.

 

Women’s Reproductive Health: Human Rights

Women’s rights to reproductive and sexual health are fundamental to women’s health in the United States and abroad. Efforts concerning women’s rights to reproductive health have been essential in expanding women’s human rights. Adoption of a health and human rights framework encourages logical applications about the correlation between women’s health and human rights, social justice, and respect for human dignity. Hindrance to reproductive health rights is political, legal, social, and financial in nature (Gruskin 1737).

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The purpose of this paper is to detail the significance of human rights associated with women’s reproductive health rights in the United States and the public health implications of these rights. This paper investigates health and human rights, as it relates to a woman’s reproductive health in the United States, including the right to autonomy; the right to health care and information; and the right to equity in the distribution of health service resources, availability, and accessibility. The association of these rights to women’s reproductive health in the United States has significant public health implications, discussed below.
Historical and Modern Application of Modern Human Rights Development after WWII
Human Rights
Human rights are standards that defend all humans from serious legal, political, and social abuses (Mann et al. 9). Historical and modern applications of modern human rights development after World War II include, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Constitution in 1946, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, and The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1966. Each of these doctrines spelled out the premise that all humans are equal and free with rights, including the right to health.
The right to health was first expressed in the World Health Organizations’ Constitution (1946). The World Health Organization declared in the Constitution that the fulfillment of the utmost achievable paradigm of health is one of the essential privileges of every person (Mann et al. 9; Ross 55; Robinson par. 8). Conversely, the right to health continues to be neglected in many parts of the world. This neglect, while not as grossly, is extended to the United States. The United States has abstained from passing this and other international agreements. In reality, the United States has not ratified a single treaty that acknowledges an entitlement to health for its citizens. The United States’ lack of ratifications of these treaties is challenging and will be elucidated later in this discussion.
Human rights were also expressed by the United Nations in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was implemented as a reaction to the Nazi holocaust and set a benchmark by which the human rights actions of all countries should be defined. The UDHR commences by setting forth the fundamental principle that all people are born uninhibited and equivalent in distinction and rights (Mann et al. 10). Also, it prohibits any division in the fulfillment of human rights on the grounds as race, color, sex, language, religion, political, national origin, birth status. In addition, the UDHR clearly spells out the rights to security, life, and liberty, as well as the entitlement to be liberated from slavery, servitude, torture or cruel conduct or retribution (Cook, Dickens, and Fathalla 90-91; Ross 55-56).
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) further expanded on the issue of human rights by specifying socio-economic rights. These rights include, but are not inhibited to, the right to education, shelter, health, water and food, employment, social security, a healthy environment, and the right to advancement (“International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights” articles 10-12). The treaty exemplifies processes to be implemented by States parties to accomplish: maternal, child and reproductive health; healthy natural and workplace environments; prevention, treatment and control of disease; health facilities, goods and services. This treaty also states that all socio-economic rights must be declared without inequity (Cook, Dickens, and Fathalla 153)
The right to health is also acknowledged in various other documents world-wide including: 1961 European Social Charter, 1978 Declaration of Alma Ata, 1981 African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, 1988 Additional Protocol to the American Convention on HRs in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Women’s Human Rights
Women’s human rights are the freedoms and benefits given to women and girls. Women’s human rights are categorized collectively and distinguished from comprehensive philosophies of human rights because they frequently vary from the self-determinations essentially held by men and boys. Themes regularly connected with the concepts of women’s rights include, but are not restricted to, the right: to physical integrity and autonomy; to education; and to have marital, parental and religious rights.
In 1979, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the United Nations. CEDAW affirms women equal rights with men in all realms of life, including education, employment, healthcare, nationality, and marriage (Cook, Dickens, and Fathalla 198-203; Ross 1-3).
In 1995, “The Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace,” also popularly known as the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, was held in Beijing, China. The conference raised global knowledge of human rights, the inequalities and inequities between men and women, and bestowed the required motivation for accentuating gender-based violence as a precedence issue for engagement by the global community (Cook, Dickens, and Fathalla 79).
Human rights are being used to promote public health. Reproductive health rights become visible in the globally reputable structure of human rights through established rights to life, security, equal treatment, education, development, and to the maximum health standards. The rights include the privilege to emergency medical services and to the fundamental health determinants, such as sovereignty from discrimination, and adequate food, water, and sanitation (Gruskin and Loff 1880). The right to health is an essential human right that consists of free will and privileges (Hunt 1878). The freedoms consist of the right to contribute to apposite decisions about one’s health, including those made about sexual and reproductive freedom (Germain, “Reproductive Health and Human Rights” 65).
Human Rights and Public Health Standards in Regards to Women’s Reproductive Rights
The associations amid medicine, public health, and human rights are developing swiftly, in result of a multitude of actions, occurrence, and efforts. These are comprised of the ongoing efforts on various aspects of women’s health.
To understand the associations between human rights and public health, it is fundamental to evaluate the important essentials of modern public health. Medicine and public health are two corresponding and interrelated methods for health advancement and protection through physical, mental, and social security. However medicine and public health must be separated because they serve different purposes (Germain 65). The primary disparity involves the population importance of public health, which varies with the individual center of medical care. Public health recognizes and measures health risks to the populations, composes legislative policies in reaction to these risks, and develops certain services contributing to the promotion of health and disease prevention (Gruskin and Loff 1880). Medicine, on the other hand, concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of individuals.
There is a strong association between public health and human rights. In the article “Health and Human Rights”, Jonathan Mann et al. describe a trinary outline of health and human rights and the impact and implications in health policies, human rights, and the connection between the two.
Health practices, policies, and programs have an effect on human rights. Public health liabilities are accomplished in considerable evaluation through programs and policies distributed, employed and implemented with assistance from the state. Public health functions are appraising health concerns and inadequacies, cultivating policies intended to manage health issues of precedence, and ensuring agendas to employ planned health goals (Mann et al. 13-17). For example, compilation of information on population health problems may be gathered on particular significant health problems opposed to others. This consequently creates inequity and other human rights violations by neglecting to contribute suitable health services.
Public health is concerned with the advancement and security of the health of populations. There is a correlation between socioeconomic circumstances and inadequate health on women’s reproductive health and human rights. The themes of public health and human rights are each comprised of health promotion and clarifying standards for performance (Gruskin and Loff 1880).
The health and human rights framework is applicable to population issues concerning women’s reproductive health. Human rights violations, such as gender inequalities, and lack of access to family planning, have a negative impact on women’s health.
Encouraging gender equality, development and ascertainment of women’s reproductive health services and the elimination of impediment to women’s economic and educational contribution is essential to promote public health.
Gender equality
Gender disparities are a chief reason of disproportion in health status, including health care. Gender differentiations are evident in disease prevalence; access to preventive care; and reproductive health. Promotion of gender equality in other sectors can influence health status and have reinforced public health outcomes (Robinson par. 9). Unfortunately, there remains a considerable disparities among recognized allegiance to gender equality in reproductive health services within the United States and abroad. The foremost cause of death and disease in women globally age 15-44 are reproductive health issues. Globally, inadequacies in family planning access contribute to the chief aspect regarding the 76 million unplanned pregnancies each year; nearly 20 million result in unsafe abortions, and attributing to nearly 70,000 deaths yearly. In emergent countries, the primary reason of death and impairment among women of reproductive age is pregnancy and childbirth complexities. Less than a quarter of married women use contraception in Africa. Females contribute to half the people infected with HIV-nearly 100 percent live in emergent countries (United Nations, “Reproductive Health Factsheet”).
Cultural and societal customs regarding reproductive health contribute to the variations among women’s and men’s health status. Acknowledgment of the dynamic gender roles and associations reliant on social perspectives where cultural, religious, economic, and political positions are mutual are necessary to promoting gender equality in healthcare.
Gender customs and discrimination within the United States, in addition to policies and laws influence women’s access to health services and education can have a significant effect on women’s reproductive health and their interrelated human rights (Germain, “Reproductive Health and Human Rights” 66). It is imperative to acknowledge the significant health outcomes attributed to a woman’s capability of autonomy in controlling health and health decisions. The ability for a woman to have control over when and how many children she has is crucial to increasing women’s economic abilities.
Family planning
Family planning occupies the use of contraception to control the amount of children and intervals between births. An effective analysis of reproductive health allows women to establish informed decisions about their reproductive health and welfare (Cook, Dickens, and Fathalla 45-48). Family planning also encourages the preservation of women’s freedoms and protects their health by precluding unplanned pregnancies and decreasing women’s vulnerability to the health risks (Koop, Pearson, and Schwartz 190-191). All women should have the freedom to determine unconditionally and conscientiously the amount and proportion of children to have and to be able to acquire the education and information required to realize this right. Services include access to contraceptives, education, legal abortion, sexually transmissible infection (STI) screenings and treatment, pregnancy testing and counseling. In many parts of the world, including the U.S., these services remain unavailable. For example, between 1994 and 2001, impecunious women had increased number of unplanned pregnancies, rates of abortion, and unintended births contrary to more affluent women. Low-income women are less likely to use contraceptives, thus increasing the incidence of STI’s and abortion (Finer and Henshaw 95).
High-quality family planning and the highest medical care aim to reduce abortion rates. Prohibiting access to superior reproductive health services and education amplifies the rate of abortion.
Reproductive health and human rights and social and economic development.
Population health is necessary for continuing economic advancement and overcoming poverty (Novick, Morrow, and Mays 20-24). Men and women should have a fundamental right to health and welfare, but significant infringements and disparities in health determinants and healthcare access continue to exist (Germain, “Reproductive Health and Human Rights” 65). In the United States, numerous relations among poverty and sexual and reproductive behavior exist. Being disadvantaged is related to first intercourse acts at an earlier age; less constancy with or no contraceptive usage; and reduced rationale to evade childbearing and rearing (Gruskin 1737). The prevalent concern is to surmount social cultural barriers and initiate family planning courses and assistances to women and girls. Supporting and promoting women’s reproductive rights and encouraging family planning, enhances economic circumstances of women and families. Violence and discrimination against women continue to negatively impact their United States’ economy.
The collaboration between public health and human rights transforms social and political structures that prevent women from fulfilling their highest human potential. The theory of a complex association between health and human rights has outcomes. Health professionals may supply beneficially to public acknowledgment of the remuneration and expenses related to the realization in respect of human rights and dignity.
Public health may encumber human rights. In the name of public health, gross misapplication of private health status information can, consequently, aid in harming individuals and violating rights. Mann et al. explains that mishandling of HIV information has resulted in limitations on human rights in such areas as marriage and family, education and work, and freedoms (14). When vital public health problems are delineated on the basis of religion, national origin, or sex, health issues of prioritization may cause bias and are assigned inferior precedence. Additionally, discrimination may arise when health services fail to consider economic and socio-cultural impediments to their access.
There are health effects consequent from human rights violations. The extent and scope of health consequences resultant from violation of rights and dignity continue to be disregarded. It is indisputable that human rights and dignity violations have poor effects on health. Recognition of these health influences connected with violations of rights and dignity can promote health and human rights fields (Mann et al. 17-19). For instance, the right to information may be violated when a woman seeks to attain a surgical procedure without appropriate procedural and health risk information available to her.
Exploring the link between human rights and health is challenging. The most extensively established examination concentrates on higher socioeconomic status and enhanced health status. Lawrence Finer and Stanley Henshaw explain in the article, “Disparities in Rates of Unintended Pregnancy In the United States, 1994 and 2001” that the rates of unplanned pregnancies have elevated among American women, the most prevalent populations being: women aged 18-24, low-income women, and minority women (91). The socioeconomic model generates escalating consequences that further increases the public health issues and human rights violations (Mann et al. 19-22).
U.S. Healthcare Systems and Women’s Reproductive Rights
Public policy
Public policy plays a role in women’s reproductive rights in the United States. Most of the policy options are related to health care policies. Public health policies, programs and practices can burden human rights because reproductive and gender equity and equality are not analogous.
Reproductive Rights are lawful rights and freedoms involving reproduction and reproductive health. The World Health Organization defines reproductive rights as the fundamental right of couples and individuals to choose without restraint and conscientiously the quantity and timing of their children. In addition, the rights also encompass the right to achieve the maximum paradigm of sexual and reproductive health and education/information devoid of inequity, force and aggression (World Health Organization, “Reproductive Health.”).
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights in “Report on the United States’ Compliance with Its Human Rights Obligations in the Area of Women’s Reproductive and Sexual Health”, a woman’s access to inclusive reproductive healthcare in the United States is not standardized or definite. The United States Constitution does not unequivocally defend the right to health and, consequently, healthcare is obtained through public and private sectors (par. 2).
The United States is a new affiliate of the United Nations Human Rights Council. In the near future, the United Nations Human Rights Council will evaluate the United States’ adherence with the human rights responsibilities as declared in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the United Nations Charter; and international humanitarian law (Center for Reproductive Rights; “Report on the United States’ Compliance”). This relationship will influence United States public policy as it correlates to public health issues as it exemplifies the importance of freedoms and human rights afforded people in the United States, as well as in other nations.
Medical Ethics and Reproductive Health Rights
There are ethical principles involved with women’s reproductive health rights. Essential to contemporary medical ethics is a value for patient autonomy and the basic principle of informed consent. Medical ethics deals with the selections by both medical professionals and patients and the responsibilities and commitments of medical professionals to their patients. In addition, medical ethics also comprises of choices developed by society, the allocation of supplies and health care access and the problems evolving from these.
Four elemental principles are feasible in modern medical ethics are: respect for autonomy, the principle of beneficence, the principle of non-malfeasance, and the principle of justice. Autonomy is respected when persons are considered ethical representatives with functions and responsibilities and the aptitude to comprehend and formulate ethical conclusions. The principle of respect for autonomy gives the power for the freewill of all people. In addition, the principle of beneficence attempts to promote the good of the person by doing good; the principle of non-maleficence attempts to evade producing injury; and the principle of Justice considers all people comparatively equal (Harman 40; “Key Ethical Principles”).
Modern medicine considers the medical professional and patient reciprocally united in the treatment decision making process. Respect for autonomy, informed consent and confidentiality are also important for ethical performance.
Autonomy
In health care, respect for patient’s autonomy is imperative. Occasionally, autonomy can clash with opposing principles of ethics, such as beneficence (Pozgar 360-361). Autonomy can be limited through the position of the capability to make decisions for oneself, as in the case of a person in a coma or severely brain injured person. The principles of human dignity and respect for people are embedded within autonomy. The principle of human dignity is the fundamental worth that resides in every human being. Respect for people as a principle purports that all people should be treated as capable as they are free and responsible people (Cook, Dickens, and Fathalla 69-70; “Key Ethical Principles”).
Informed Consent
In health care contexts, the rights to informed consent and confidentiality are influential to assure decisions are made under the patient’s own free will. The principle of informed consent gives every capable woman the rights and responsibilities to progress her own health (Cook, Dickens, and Fathalla 86; “Key Ethical Principles”). These rights oblige certain associated obligations upon health care providers. To obtain informed consent of the patient, healthcare providers are obligated to divulge information of anticipated treatments and their alternatives, and they must revere her right to treatment refusal. In addition, healthcare providers are obligated to maintain privacy to permit the patient to make private decisions independent of others, including healthcare providers and family (Pozgar 278-279). Informed consent is an issue of determination. The most important characteristic is that it is patient enabling therefore providing the patient the information she requires in order to make a logical decision for her healthcare needs to be met.
Confidentiality
In U.S. health care, confidentiality is regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the Privacy Rule, and many state laws (Miller 440-446). Confidentiality is generally used for discussions that occur between medical providers and patients in the course of treatment and/ or consultation. Legally, medical providers cannot disclose patient-provider discussions. In turn, the health care provider has a duty to respect the patient’s trust and keep sensitive medical information confidential (Miller 447-450; Pozgar 267-268). This necessitates the health care provider to respect the patient’s privacy by inhibiting others access to the patients private health care information thus, producing a trusting atmosphere supporting patient candidness with the health care provider.
Technology and Challenges Unique to the U.S. and Developed Countries
Technological Advances
Technological advances play a role in women’s reproductive rights in the United States. Reproductive technology includes contemporary and projected uses of technology for human reproduction, including facilitated reproductive technology, such as in-vitro fertilization; contraception; and abortion. The principles of integrity and totality assert that the wellbeing of the total person should be recognized when determining technology or therapeutic intervention usage (Harman 40; “Key Ethical Principles”).
Assisted Reproductive Technology
In the U.S., there has been an increase in assisted reproductive technology (ART). In the United States, the first baby conceived through ART was born in 1982. Each year since, there has been a remarkable increase in the amount ART procedures performed, from 64,681 to 134,260 between 1996-2005 (Wright et al. 9). Assisted reproductive technologies pertain to a number of alternatives to assist a woman in becoming pregnant (Cook, Dickens, and Fathalla 305). Because assisted reproductive technology procedures are very costly and invasive, they are frequently employed as a final recourse for conception. These medical procedures, when employed, are frequently used along with more conservative treatment to amplify the success of the procedure.
Assisted reproductive technology methods include in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) (Wright et al 3-5). Donor egg or embryo and surrogacy are also considered forms of assisted reproductive technology (Cook, Dickens, and Fathalla 305-307).
Recently there has been an increase in assisted reproductive technologies and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in particular. In-vitro fertilization is the method where the ovum is fertilized by sperm outside the womb or in vitro. The fertilized ovum is then relocated to the woman’s uterus with the intention of producing a pregnancy. In-vitro fertilization is the principal remedy in infertility to other unsuccessfully facilitated reproductive technology approaches.
There are examples of women’s health rights being violated with in-vitro fertilization. Women who are single, overweight, or of significant age past child bearing years may be denied the same rights as a married, normal weight, younger woman.
Contraceptives
Contraception is the utilization of a variety of techniques to inhibit pregnancy as well as thwarting sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). While, for the most part, the United States exemplifies elevated concentrations of contraceptive use as a method to prevent pregnancy, it is not uniformly dispersed within the United States. Certain populations, mainly urban and rural communities, contraceptive alternatives are restricted and access is complex, ensuing an unrealized necessity for contraceptive technology. (Guttmacher Institute, “Facts on Contraceptive Use in the United States”).
In spite of evolvement of contraceptive technologies, method selection is individual. Classification of contraceptive technologies is based on the length of defense. These classifications are permanent, long-term, and short-term methods.
Permanent methods of contraception have a very high success rate and include male (vasectomy) and female sterilization (tubal ligation). Both procedures are invasive and increase the risks of infection and other health complications and do not prevent against HIV and STD’s.
Long-term methods, while not as invasive as permanent methods, also have a very high success rate. Intrauterine devices (IUD), oral contraceptives, and hormonal injections are forms of long term contraceptive methods. This method, like permanent methods, can increase the risk of health complications and do not prevent against HIV and STD’s.
Short-term methods of contraception are to some extent less successful than long-term and permanent methods. Short-term contraceptives methods include condoms, spermicides, vaginal barriers, and emergency contraceptive pills. While side effects of this method are fewer than previously mentioned methods, only the condom prevents conception and HIV and STD’s simultaneously when used appropriately (Guttmacher Institute, “Facts on Contraceptive Use in the United States”).
Access to reliable, safe contraceptives is an essential component of a woman’s reproductive health and public health as a whole, with significant emphasis on the aspect of reproductive rights. It is imperative for healthcare providers to emphasize confidentiality and empower the woman’s autonomy regarding decisions about contraceptive methods.
Abortion
Abortion is a pregnancy that does not result in a birth (Pozgar 309). Therapeutic and elective abortions are the most common types of abortions in the United States. Therapeutic abortions are executed when there are fetal anomalies or when pregnancy endangers the mother’s health. Elective abortions are the intended disruptions of pregnancy for basis exclusive of fetal irregularities or maternal threat. These types of abortion to end unintentional pregnancies are not uncommon (Guttmacher Institute, “Facts on Induced Abortion”).
Access to reliable, legal abortion is a fundamental element of a woman’s reproductive health and an important factor of reproductive rights (Germain, “Women’s Health” 193). Women must have significant procedure accession where abortion is legal. In the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the constitutional entitlement to abortion was acknowledged but failed to give women attainment to abortion services because of the escalating amount of limitations. Consequently, numerous state laws constrain a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion thus increasing the number of illegally obtained abortions. These laws are intended to make it more complicated for an abortion to be attained. A woman’s capability to access abortion services is additionally threatened by public persecution of abortion providers and confines on federal and private resources has produced a scarcity of services (Center for Reproductive Rights, “Report on the United States’ Compliance” par. 16-23; Guttmacher Institute, “Facts on Induced Abortion”).
A resolution cannot ensue without corroboration for alteration. A considerable portion of the issues with women’s health are mortality of mothers in addition to the fetus due in part to little education and little or no maternal health care available.
Conclusion
The association of human rights with regards to women’s reproductive health in the United States is a significant public health issue. The overall importance of women’s health and human rights is to advance the health of women and girls throughout the lifetime. Future optimal balance should be negotiated between public health goals and women’s health and human rights approaches.
The extensive historical impact of women’s health and human rights emphasizes the need for endorsement and defense of health through respecting; protecting and fulfilling of women’s human and health rights that are inextricably linked. It is imperative for public health officials and law makers to understand the serious health consequences and implications of defiance of women’s health and human rights can have. The creation of universal health policies and programs to promote women’s health and human rights in their design can facilitate the support of rights to autonomy, participation, privacy, and information in health care. Finally, susceptibility to illness can be abridged by adopting measures to appreciate, defend and accomplish human rights through autonomy from inequity of race, sex, and gender roles, as well as a fundamental right to health, nutrition, and education.
The focal point for women’s health issues is to remedy the inequities in research, health care services, and education that have positioned the women’s health in danger. By organizing women’s health research, health care services, and public policy new programs and ideas required to advance women’s health in the United States and internationally can increase (Gruskin, “Reproductive and Sexual Rights”). Expansion of improved women’s health practices by recognizing and duplicating thriving women’s health programs, advancement of public health education by expanding the involvement of women and girls in health education courses, and increasing access to women’s health services by involving professionals, such as health care professionals and public health officials, on women’s health issues will attempt to close the disp