Compare and Contrast – Gender Progress and Misogyny

As many US states prepare to take away the rights of women, and as a British PM makes a sexist ass of himself, look at what is happening in supposedly less enlightened countries.

Item 1:

“Rwanda is today launching a cervical cancer vaccination programme for all its 12 to 15 year-old girls – the first comprehensive national scheme in Africa, where it is so badly needed. Some 275,000 women die from cervical cancer every year – most in developing countries. And the death toll is rising – to an expected 474,000 women a year by 2030, 95% of whom will be in the developing world.

Rwanda is unveiling an impressive and ambitious project and it needs to work and to encourage other developing countries to do the same. This is by no means a simple undertaking, although Rwanda may have some advantages over other sub-Saharan African states – it is very small and it has made great strides in preventive healthcare through setting up an excellent network of village-based community healthworkers (equipped with mobile phones). It is also – and this is why it is the darling of the aid donors – a very efficient, directed state where things happen when the government says they should.”

And item 2, more surprising, frankly:

“Pakistan has taken the landmark decision to allow transsexuals to have their own gender category on some official documents.

The country’s Supreme Court has ruled that those Pakistanis who do not consider themselves to be either male or female should be allowed to choose an alternative sex when they apply for their national identity cards.”

We, in Western countries, tend to see ourselves as bastions of civilization when it comes to gender issues. That is a myth that requires a lot of ideological work and cultural euphemization considering the level of sexism and misogyny coming, especially from the religious right. We tend to conveniently forget that developing countries tend to put more women in position of political power, often in the executive branches, but also in some legislatures while women are grossly underrepresented in that part of society in Western countries.

And as for the Pakistani decision to give transsexuals their own category, compare this progressive move to this.

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