Saudi Arabia is not the only country restricting women’s rights

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Limitations on women’s rights across the world
On a week when women in Saudi Arabia have been in the news for another protest against the ban on women driving, Washington Post reporter Caitlin Dewey has been poring over the 2013  Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum. She has also been thinking about some of the absurd legal restrictions on women’s rights around the world, restrictions that according to the World Economic Forum are not only hurtful to women themselves but also hurt a country’s economic competitiveness in the world market. Dewey singles out seven examples of ways various governments restrict what women can do and where they can go. For instance, she mentions that two countries in the world still specifically ban women from voting. Other countries have strict rules about every aspect of women’s lives, making them virtual prisoners in their own homes. But, on the positive side, other countries have been progressing in efforts toward gender equality. Can you guess which country ranks highest in the world for having closed the gender gap the most?

Related.  You  can read the entire 2013 Global Gender Gap Report online, which (although approaching the issue strictly from an economic standpoint) stresses that “in a world moving from capitalism to ‘talentism,’ gender parity can no longer be treated as superfluous. Women make up one half of the human capital available in any economy, and business and governments may reap a rich diversity dividend from investments in gender parity.” But that’s just the business and political aspect of this issue. There are also other aspects— the human aspect, the justice aspect, and the religious aspect of recognizing women as whole human beings made in the image of God, just as men are.  Both the world and the church need women’s talents.  We can’t allow those talents to continue to be so often wasted and underutilized.  And the world needs to move away from the infantilization of women and the idea that girls and women must be controlled, under guardianship, and regarded as subordinate to men.  See also “Women’s rights violations are not just a developing nations issue” by Liesl Gerntholtz, director of the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and is the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.

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