Women’s Rights And Their Importance To The Development Of True Democracy

1207 words - 5 pages

A weak democracy is a barrier to the full achievement of human rights, which hinders the development of an effective democracy. The link between democracy and human rights is highlighted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures” (Article 21(3)). When women’s rights are realized and included in the policy and organizational operations of a country, they are on the way to better achieving an effective democracy. A truly ...view middle of the document...

Real World Examples

An article by Denise Walsh observes and compares democratic transition in Chile and South Africa because democratization is ‘rarely associated with advances in women’s rights’. She examines the quality of democracy of institutions in the two countries in order to determine how ‘women’s access, voice, and capacity for contestation in the legislature, civil society, and the media, enabled them to shape debate content and pressure the state to respond with legislative reform’. This is important to my argument that in order for a democracy to develop it has to acknowledge women, their experiences, and rights as an essential component because Walsh found that often just before democratic transition there is a focus on the passage of women’s rights legislation while states are preparing to transition into democracy. This suggests that there is a correlation between between the quality of democracy and women’s rights. The first country that Walsh examines in terms of democratic achievement was Chile. She found that in Chile, their ‘outcomes of women’s rights were modest’ in comparison to South Africa where the ‘outcomes where unusually impressive’. She determines that because democracy in leading institutions in the public sphere in Chile did not expand as much as they did in South Africa to include women’s rights that is why their quality of democracy is different. For example, in Chile ‘civil society offered women remarkable opportunities to organize and shape the public agenda. Urban, rural, poor, and middle-class women formed groups in response to human rights violations and a severe economic crisis’, but women’s coalitions were encouraged to reorganize along party lines, insisting that ‘party loyalty trumped gender interests’. Therefore, it was difficult for women’s groups to remain independent and fight for their rights in the public sphere.

In contrast South African civil society ‘offered South African women more open and inclusive debate conditions than the legislature and provided a platform for them to shape debate content’, and these avenues for debate continuously improved over time. Prior to elections in South Africa women participated in “Take Back the Night” marches, which brought women from diverse backgrounds together as they demanded for their rights and brought more positive attention to their requests. The political support for South African women’s rights also increased in this time period, and surpassed those of Chile. In 1993 a draft ‘Prevention of Family Violence Bill’ passed which made ‘violence against women a crime and put an end to egregious practices such as the denial of marital rape’ (Walsh). As a result of...

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