Institute for Cultural Diplomacy. Women’s rights movements around the world are drawing increasing attention to issues of gender-based violence and discrimination. Although significant progress has been made in the developed world, in terms of redefining gender roles, many developing societies continue to face immense challenges in areas of law enforcement and implementation. What remains the biggest challenge, however, is cutting through deeply-entrenched cultural beliefs and norms, which pose the greatest barrier to social and economic development.
Although several factors are at play, one significant institution to be blamed is the media. Through promoting stereotypes and reinforcing traditional views of gender, the media perpetuates traditional power relations between the sexes. In the majority of advertisements, films and songs, women are either being projected as “sex objects”, “happy homemakers” or victims of sexual harassment and abuse. In developing countries, the situation becomes worse due to the lack of education. On the one hand, girls and young women are not being made aware of their political, social and reproductive rights; on the other hand, men are not being educated about the rights of women. As a result, both groups remain stuck in a traditional mindset, and societies are not able break away from age-old practices.
Pushing governments to implement more effective legislation is one solution. More important, however, is the need to bring change from within. It’s not only about changing policies and practices. It’s about changing our collective mindset. Once each of us acknowledges that women are equal to men, women will automatically gain more equal representation in both the public and private spheres. And it is not only the men who need to transform their perceptions; women, too, need to stop viewing themselves as “victims” and need to rise above the challenges to enhance their political, economic and social status in society.
How can we bring about a fundamental shift in attitudes and perceptions towards women? Share your thoughts with the ICD Team.
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