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Freedom of religion and equality woman
Women’s rights have become one of the measures in which a society can be gauged in terms of the compliance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pro women’s rights groups have been in the fore front towards ensuring that women are accorded equal rights and opportunities with men. The appraisal of women’s rights has been attributed to greater levels of human development, health standards as well as democracy. Women’s rights have also come to be perceived as a crucial indicator of a country’s determination and commitment towards the adherence to responsibilities in the international arena with regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There has been a considerable degree of debate as to the comprehension of equality and the means with which to advance the awareness of women’s rights. This paper seeks to address issues concerned with women’s rights, equality and religion.
Freedom of religion
All over the world, women’s rights and freedom of religion have been conflicting primarily due to the role of women as stipulated by various religious beliefs. Internationally, a low degree of emphasis has been applied with regard to the freedom of religion and the various human rights as well as civil liberties and more so the function played by the freedom to practice a given form of religion with respect to social strife and the maintenance of political organizations has been relatively avoided. Women’s rights groups have been advocating for the harmonization of the right to religion and gender differences. This has presented a point of conflict between feminist standpoints and conflicting application of human rights as provided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with respect to the universal application of women’s rights for all women relative to the prevalent cultural norms in the Western world.
The correlation between the international manifestation of women’s rights, feminist perceptions and oriental discourses is perceived as major points in which conflicts in the international application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is accepted in different countries and societies. In this context, an oriental discourse as a term means negative applications of human rights with relation to the Western world.
In the 17th Century, a rising curiosity concerning Islam and Eastern Europe became profoundly hostile as depicted in media, art, literature and various disciplines showing an intellectual authority over other non Western cultural norms. In this sense, Islam was portrayed as a rather backward religion being both strange and monolithic as compared to religions adopted by the Western culture. This historical standpoint and view with regard to the cultural and religious identity of the Middle East and Islam had the overall effect of methodically aligning the knowledge and understanding of Oriental peoples as being inferior when compared with mindset of peoples in the Western cultures.
These apparent colonial discourses were related to with a concerted degree of interest more so when pertaining to the treatment of women. Both the western and non western cultures portrayed a degree of pre-modern barbarism with the west viewing the higher level of dependence in women affairs as awkward while the oriental mindsets were perceived as oppressive with regard to women.
There has been a great deal of debate with respect to the temperament of the globalised approach in human rights movements with clear distinctions being drawn up to differentiate from the economic perspective of globalization as a neo-imperialistic principle and globalization as a technical system through which transport and communication all over the world is done with a greater level of ease. In the debate, there have been many incidences in which globalization as a means with which to ease the level of contact among people of the world has been perceived as detrimental to women’s rights. However, proponents of this debate view this distinct aspect of globalization as paramount to the international development of women’s rights movements linking women on an international level.
According to the available literature, the aspect of dualism as presented by globalization can be construed to bring about creative conflicts within the boundaries of international law. On one hand, international law provides the legal ground work for an international normative order while on the other hand being viewed as a delicate yet necessary humanist enclave for geopolitical conduct providing normative frameworks necessary to protect humanity from neo-imperialism. It can therefore be said that a concrete distinction between the good and bad aspects of globalization within the constraints of international law cannot be discretely distinguished. As such some scholars argue that laws defining human rights as well as human rights movements can be applied to encourage dominion and subsequent exploitation of certain circles of humanity. This is more so in the context of dominant factions imposing aspects of human rights against groups that can be regarded as political minorities especially as in themes persistently put across with regard to the feminist reviews towards the application of human rights.
This argument has been perceived as falsely championing the universality of human rights but in essence sidelining the issues raised by human rights with regard to human rights. Feminist groups have pro actively shed light on the aspects of individual human rights as claimed by men as well as corporate rights as advocated for by political affiliations or cultural groups. These tend to have precedence over the rights for women and more so are applied to defeat competitive claims by women on their rights as women.
In the Western world, feminist scholars have put in a lot of effort in raising awareness on the issues in societies that tend to cause emotional, mental and physical harm to women are highlighted and incorporated in the human rights frameworks with respect to cultural practices and norms as well as with respect to religious stand points. The failure to adequately avail protection to women has been detrimental to the realization of human rights universally. Local level intervention through groups such as on governmental organizations tends deviate the attention from the contemporary wider geopolitical aspects of inequality in the operations of international systems and national systems thus frustrating internal remedies through the presentation of religion as an insurmountable limitations towards the equality of women.
In line with this context, Muslim women face continued persecution primarily due to the fact that the way in which they perceive Islam is different from the way that Muslim states interpret Islamic law. This inequality has brought about a distinct form of gender persecution weighed down by political beliefs. For instance for a woman to hold public office, she has to denounce her religious affiliation to Islam if she is seeking asylum in another country. In another instance, there have been incidences in which young school attending girls have been expelled from school as a consequence for wearing an Islamic veil. This was due to the fact that wearing such a veil contravened the school’s definition of the accepted dress code. Another instance was reported when a Muslim school demanded that non Muslim teachers were to wear Islamic veils while in the educational institutions. These instances highlight a conflict of the freedom of religion and equality with respect to women.
Humanity is actively trying to search for comprehensive answers for the ever contentious issues concerned with religion more so in the manner with which religion provides for its various systems, values for women and men, and the ideals through which these religions attempt to maintain cohesiveness among members. These same religions have long standing rituals, specific identity codes and laid down standards defining the accepted conduct in the quest to ensure that prescribed ideals are adhered to by members and respected by other religions. As such, it is worthy noting that preferences provided for by various religious ideals create ripe conditions for conflicts in society.
A majority of the social institutions in the contemporary western world have become secularized as a result of constitutions adopted to accommodate diversity of the many religions present in the western world. The acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has also played a pivotal role towards this end. With respect to the examples provided earlier, wearing of Islamic garments in social institutions such as schools has brought about preexisting aspects due to the conflicting aspects of fundamental freedoms. In these contemporary Western societies, conflicts in the ideals of different religious backdrops regularly come into play. I is common for constitutions in these countries to adopt laws that ensure that social institutions of may be Catholic or Protestant foundations accept individuals from other religious institutions while at the same time allowing for such individuals to practice their right to manifest religious manifestations and the freedom to choose religious ideals or moral instruction.
The Human Rights and Freedoms Charter
This is the fundamental international law legislation that provides for the protection of personal religious beliefs and norms. Included in the Charter is the fundamental freedom for individuals to exercise their inherent right to freedom of conscience freedom of expression, freedom of religion and the freedom of association. Also provided for in the charter is the right to equality for each and every human being such that no single person should be in any manner discriminated against or persecuted due to his or her religious beliefs. The charter also provides for compensation and instruments for redress where these rights and freedoms have been violated.
These universal values are the foundational framework for intercultural and interreligious dominations dialogue. It is worthy noting that this aspect of dialogue can only be achieved when the prevailing conditions advocate for mutual respect with regard to the equality in the dignity accorded to all humanity through the provisions offered in the Human Rights charter, the rule of law and the adherence to doctrine of democracy. Commitment to these values and more so the fundamental right and freedoms guarantees a situation whereby non domination is common and the force of argument prevails over the argument of force.
It is common in the contemporary world to have situations in which fundamental human rights tend to conflict with one another. The solution to such an occurrence is the endeavor to find some form of fair balance with regard to intercultural and religious differences. Linguistic affiliations, ethnic backgrounds, religion, cultural and traditional customs should not be invoked for the sole purpose of limiting an individual’s fundamental rights and freedoms or from responsible participation within a give society. This principle serves to ensure that an individual’s right not to be treated with dignity due to gender based discrimination and any other form of discrimination. This encompasses the rights and developmental interests of small children and young adults; the freedom to practice or not to practice a given religion; protection from human rights abuses for example, female genital mutilation and forced marriages regardless of the cultural norms. This goes along way to imply that no matter the prevailing and dominant culture the justification for any form of discrimination, on the basis of religion, ethnic background, religious creed, race or nay other form of identity.
In the Western world, political systems are based on the principles of democracy leading to a situation in which citizens are in essence political players rooting for the betterment of a nation’s standard of living. Democracy advocates for societies whereby exercise of power and legitimacy of consensus is vested in the will of the people through dialogue ultimately for the development of humanity. In democratic societies, the rule of law provides for the necessary structural frameworks for a flourishing intercultural and multidenominational religious setting through dialogue. With clearly structured laws, there is discrete separation of power, certainty as to legality of different aspects in society as well as upholding for the principle of equality for all members of the society. These laws also make provisions that ensure that public sector authorities do not institute discriminating decisions and also provide for mechanisms through which individuals who are of the view that their rights have been violated are able to seek redress.
Dignity, equality and mutual respect
Intercultural and interreligious dialogue can be best accommodated with an individual has the ability to view one’s self in the perspective of other members of society. This is provided for by democratic policies which provide that all humanity has to be accorded the accepted level of dignity equality and that mutual respect is quite easily reciprocated. As such where there are conflicts in the religious aspects and gender equality as provided for in a democratic organization dialogue should actively put into play to achieve a form of balance that limits the negative impacts of these arising conflicts. It is worthy to note that equality and more so mutual respect is fundamental to intercultural dialogue necessary for the removal of all barriers to cohesiveness and dispute resolution.
Gender equality has been a core issue in the contemporary Western society where the call for a greater level of equality among men and women has been critically advocated for. Gender equality is a ore part with regard to human rights and freedoms as provided for by the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. Whether in relation to religion or to cultural diversity, the universal respect for the human rights for women have come to be emphasized as a non negotiable aspect in the contemporary western society. Gender equality has come to be embraced as a critical element in the advancement of democracy. Therefore the prevalence of any form of gender based discrimination is commonly perceived as detrimental to a individuals personal enjoyment of guaranteed human rights and freedoms.
The quest to eliminate gender inequality is a positive outcome of intercultural dialogue. It is tantamount that a great deal of emphasis is placed on the complexity of personal identity with respect to societal stereo types and a community’s perception. To eliminate conflicts with regard to freedom of religion and women’s rights provided that intercultural initiatives which involve both women from the perceived minority and the dominant groups work together and more so interact with one another thus sharing experiences which build to bridge such divides.
There are barriers that tend to limit the development of intercultural dialogue which could be linguistic barriers, poverty, discriminations and a host of other barriers. Religion is translated differently in a given society and more so greatly influences the political social and economic development of a society. The diversity of religions in the contemporary western world directly influences