Current State of Women’s Rights

Shamim Chaudry

The existence of nations and their political and economic rights is a fact that nobody can deny their existence and rights. In a similar way the undeveloped, weak and oppressed classes in the society also exist and you cannot deny their existence and today the question for their national and democratic rights is the most important question for the world.

In capitalistic society this question gets more importance as the basic law of this system is to make more and more profit. The basic, important and unavoidable fact of the capitalistic society under capitalism is the divide between oppressed and oppressor nations and classes. In this system the capitalist class always has the upper hand. As in this system the culture, education, politics and economics all protect the interest of privileged class and are contradictory to labour and women so the question of rights and equality becomes irrelevant.

In early history when society was matriarchy there was a time when equality existed. In those times women were considered as the source of creativity which is why the society was associated with women. Generations and families were also associated with the name of women. The status, self-esteem and stature of women were completely protected by the culture and rituals of that era which was considered as law. Although women have started food production, men have enhanced the production activities by inventing the tools. It’s obvious that human life progresses through the joint struggle of men and women.

When agriculture era had started the stature of women was downgraded and society became patriarchy, men became the head of the family or tribe and personal property, ownership, slavery and division of classes had been started. Women became the property of men; her existence became meaningless and she became slave. Till now she is suffering the same oppression and she became unreachable even for herself.

As society progressed and evolved women lost her freedom, at the start of personal property along with women, men also became slaves, but women had to face double slavery. On one hand she had to suffer the oppression of the aggression of the society and on other hand she is under the occupation of men who himself is oppressed and aggressed by class society.

For the last thousands of years from tribal societies to capitalistic societies the only difference that has been seen is that the type of oppression has changed and the intensity has lessened however oppression itself hasn’t been diminished and it cannot be diminished in the presence of private property. Exploitation and slavery of the labourers cannot become extinct and will continue till sacred personal property exists. The sad part is that all the priests, mullahs, pundits, philosophers and intellectuals have supported this brutal exploitation. Whilst this was going on there were also people who resisted and went against this oppression and practically helped the society to evolve which is why they’re at the stature of prophets, reformers, and saviours.

Capitalism progressed after 1750 but after the invention of steam engines a revolution took place in the world of capitalism. Gigantic factories were built and steam engine ships started to take out the goods which were produced in those factories to all the different places in the world. The mass manufacturing of goods started and the trading of these goods expanded to every corner in the world. Now the industrialists needed more and more labour to work in these factories. Poor people who lived in the villages came to the countries to find a way to live and get jobs to feed themselves. In these factories a large number of children and women also began to work. Laws were formulated for these labourers but the industrialists didn’t care about these laws or the labourers. Women and children were given very small wages. Women and children who worked for 18 hours a day were forced to live in starvation and poverty and lead a backward and illiterate life. Due to these conditions in the 19th century, Europe became the centre of revolutionary movements. Not only did men but women also whole heartedly participate in these revolutionary movements fighting for the rights of the oppressed.

Today the era that we are living in is the greatest revolutionary era of the human history without any doubt. The good part is that the role of the women in the society is finally being shown and cannot be hidden anymore. The truth is that the history of mankind has progressed by the joint struggle of man and woman. In this long and difficult struggle women have achieved many milestones. Now it has been proven that women have participated in production since the beginning of history and that they have made technical inventions and scientific discoveries. Women have not only participated with men in all the revolutions but at times they have also been the ones to take the initiative. Apparently it looks like in the developed west women have freedom and it looks like women get the same amount of rights as men however that isn’t true. In the industrialist society only men get and hold all the advantages and comforts of industry, science, and technology. In actuality the developed western society is also the patriarchy society. The new industrial capitalism presents the ideology of freedom and equality in between men and women, however this is only in terms of theory but in practice it does not work

There is no doubt in some developed countries men and women workers, through their struggle and resistance movements have achieved some reliefs and benefited by laws but even than in a society where division of wealth is uneven and unequal the workers will remain the oppressed class. The existence of his life depends upon the labour he sells to industrialist. All the reliefs to workers class are temporary and the industrialist can snatched them at any time. Wherever in the world there is capitalism the reliefs to the upper class and to men will continue. In fact the law of private property chained workers in poverty and slavery everywhere. In such an oppressed society women cannot escape from the exploitation and men remains upper hand.

In between oppressor and oppressed there will be no equality prevails and nor it can be. Women cannot get any freedom until and unless she is indebted through the reliefs by law which only benefited to men. Until and unless labour, farmers and workers will not get rid of the industrialists and feudals it’s impossible that they will get real freedom.

The capitalistic society, which mainly focuses on the production of utilities, the utilization of these utilities to increase consumer expenditure and only favours the economic benefits is not able to grant woman her true respect whether it’s about increasing the expenditure or promoting the capitalism, women’s self-respect has always deteriorated. The only benefit of capitalism is that it encourages the right of freedom. Freedom means, a right to lively freely and to enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy knowing that freedom is in the genes of human so he can’t be bounded in a conventional cage of slavery. As far as the personal life of the people is concerned, society has no right to interfere in it. Freedom is just to grant people a right to choose a path of good or evil.

In capitalistic theory, the freedom, equality and the provision of rights just lies in enhancing the economic values at the cost of women’s persecution. This is all done just to paralyze the thoughts of the people so that women will not be able to think about the immorality and cruelty that a capitalism grants and to make them believe that they are just born to feed and breed, the fanatics are still repeating the history. They prove that women have played an active role in all the revolutions formerly via showing the historical evidences.

The male dominant nations instead of favouring the ambience of equality and provision of rights are using it as a weapon against the women empowerment although it is not permissible in a religion as their manifesto is just to stabilize the conventional system, feudalism. Equality between men and women is the pillar that lay the foundation of equality in the provision of equal rights to both of them.

Since long, women activists have been asking to abolish all those laws which discriminate women from men and create equality between both. Many years have passed but still very less progress has made in this category. Capitalistic democracy’s traditional oral promises have always turned out to be fake. They not even deprive women of freedom and equality but also conceal the deprivations of labourers. Women can raise their voice against this injustice only if they develop their political and ideological sense but it doesn’t mean that only women are supposed to fight for their rights but, the fight against women’s slavery is a part of the struggle of oppressed proletariat.

If we go into the depth of human history, we can see that history is brimming with the brutality and cruelty faced by all the oppressed proletariat and they became victims of this butchery and inequality at every point but, man overcame all the obstacles and came out as a triumphant. He broke the chain of hindrances, scorned their harsh words and challenged the cruel. It is an outcome of men’s efforts that in 1865, America got freedom from the chains of slavery. In March 1857, women entrepreneurs protested on the roads for the betterment of social and financial conditions. In 1920, American women got a right to cast a vote and in 1928, every adult man got this right. In 1918, women were paid half of men’s wages for their work. In Germany, women were paid one fourth to men.

In spite of channelizing all the efforts, women and other proletariats are being oppressed. All the confiscators have firmly grasped the earnings of the poor. Until all the people don’t get their rights, the world will remain a pyramid of worries and agonies. The path of struggle and efforts can’t be left. In order to bring a revolution in a country, half of the population can’t be ignored. As there is no point of settlement between the oppressor and the oppressed so women have to work side by side with the poor and laborious men for their betterment, and for the betterment of society, they have to begin some movements that are able to enlighten the whole world because ‘Enlightenment gives power’ as Aristotle said.

The author is Vice-President of the Pakistan Mazdoor Marg, Punjab.

Translated from the Urdu by Fizza Abbas and Parma Abbas.

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