Every “–ism” may be risky



The European Commission covers almost similar results on every March 8 in which is mentioned that a lot of changes has been done in the matter of the equality of rights between men and women. However, more effort is still required in the gender-related issue.


Discussion with Armenian journalist, television and radio presenter Elena Chobanian.

–                      In some countries the period from 8 March till 7 April is dedicated to women. And, thanks to German Marxist theorist and advocate for women’s rights, Clara Zetkin, in many societies the International Women’s Day is celebrated on every 8March, in the name of respect to women for their social economic achievements. How is the current situation regarding the gender equality?


–                      There are many changes in the gender-related subject. I will bring the European Union and its 28 member states as a main example for our discussion. Even if the EU member states have many similarities, every country has its own features, such as Portugal, Cyprus, Poland, Finland, etc. According to the Article 119 of agreement of the Roman Treaties (1957) a list of legislations was created regulating equal rights of men and women for EU members. In 2004 an order was passed which extended the gender discrimination prohibition related to the supply of services, good and so on. But it does not mean that everything is regulated. For instance, the European Commission (EC) warned the German government that the anti-discrimination directives implementation in the German General Law for equal rights between two sexes is not sufficient (a law passed in 2006, just after the EC threats with penal fines in amount of about 900,000 Euros per day).

–                      What about women’s role in education?

–      Many researches showed that young women are more successful than young men in education. But in academic careers, the numbers of women decline. What refers to the proportion of women in management positions, the number is almost 32 percent (2005). In politics men appear to be more dominant, at least at first sight. In 2005 in Germany, as one of the EU members, women were about 11-12 percent in the 50 largest companies. The highest work force participation rate was in Sweden and Denmark (around 70 percent), and the lowest work force rate for women were in Poland, Greece, Spain, Malta (below 48 percent). The average unemployment rate for women in 2007 was 2 percent above that of men. In 2014 the EU’s Labor Force Survey (EU LFS) measured the EU-28 employment rate for persons who had 15 to 64 age, Employment rates are generally lower among women and older workers.  The Labor Force Statistics published the current population survey (US) which shows that women’s unemployment rate in 2016 (aged 20-25 and over) is about 16,5, and men’s unemployment (aged 20-25 and over) rate is almost 17,8. Of course, the numbers may change all the time and we cannot be sure if those reflect the whole reality for many reasons. However, we can have more or less a general idea about it

–                      Are women with high qualification and education often less well-paid than men?

–                      In many cases, it is true. And there can be different factors such as the culture, society, values of a certain country, social-political factors, person’s psychology and mentality, gender “invisible” issues and so on. In 2005 statistics showed that women of 50-59 age earned 30-33 percent less than men of the same age. Pregnancy also play a significant role in this matter. The employment rate for women of 20-49 age increases by 15 percent when they have children, even if many specialists may argue that smart women can organize well both family and work.

–                      Does the disadvantaged situation for women on the employment market mean a  higher risk of poverty for women?

–                      Well, it is possible. Even if reflexive women can synchronize both the housework and career, almost 10-15 percent of women in Europe (with exception of Slovakia) are at risk of poverty, which may end with the status as single parent, out from the job market, etc.

–                      Violence against women is one of widespread issues of human rights for women, especially in Asian countries.

–                      Not only in Asian countries. Violence occurs in every social class. Of course, in Asian countries women’s rights are lower, but according to the European Women’s Lobby, 45 percent of all women in Europe have already suffered under violence perpetrated by men. In 2015 the UNiTE campaign organized its constituencies to keep violence against women at the top of national and global agendas, which highlighted key developments ensuring the violence against women and girls.  In 2016, the same campaign continues to mark 25th of every month as “Orange Day” to raise awareness and take action to end violence against women. However, the group of female experts for the European Commission argued that there are a many unreported cases above the cases of domestic violence, human trade, etc. In this regard, based on the British Government evaluations of 2000-2001, there were 15.4 million cases of domestic violence in Great Britain, of which 84 percent were directed against women, and almost half a million women and children become victims of human trafficking each year in Europe. Thus, the central Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, EU member states are the main target countries in this case.

–       That means that not all countries can be put together in one category since the statistical differences are quite large.

–                      That’s right. The statistical data can offer us a general information on this or that issue. In this case, the numbers may help us evaluate the structural discrimination of women Europe-wide as well, since majority of women have no advantage over men in any EU country, excepting their lifetime.

–                      Is the contemporary woman active involved in today’s politics?

–                      K. Bazeian, an Armenian ethnographer, once mentioned that Armenian women’s involvement in politics is still low comparing to men. As today politics is more a business, in cases of the private property women are excluded. Although, in spite of all official estimations and opinions we may notice e many women appearing active in politics in Europe, and not only (for instance, Beata Szydło as the Prime Minister of Poland, Hillary Clinton as the 67th United States Secretary of State, Arpine Hovhannisyan, as the Armenian Justice Minister, and the list can continue).

–                      Nevertheless, there are women in the Republic of Armenia who try their best to be taken into account, to highlight their importance in both society and politics, which increased woman’s authority considerably.

–                      Everything is possible. There are both successful and unsuccessful women. Everything depends on their effort, mentality and.. resources, of course. But if each government wants to have a so-called democratic country , it must support its own citizens, regardless of the gender, age and education. Today many things changed, I don’t say it is right or wrong. If for an Armenian woman family was primary, nowadays it became somehow secondary, and the reasons are not related only with feminism.

–                      What about the first profession of the world, prostitution, which distorts and subordinates womens image, her decent role in society.

–                      We may look at all these questions from different angles, perspectives, and give different answers. Now, let’s try to answer it in a balanced way. If we analyze this issue from an ordinary Armenian point of view, since every nation consists of various groups of people with different psychology, cultural values, habits, etc., the prostitution generally is not respected, even if it is demanded. This contradiction does lead somehow to the distortion and improper understanding of women’s role and image.

–                      Alright, but what is the positive side of this issue, of gender equality?

–                      Why do we want to create a perfect life with perfect proportions, and control it? It would be too good to be true. Once a political scientist said that only a cynical man will demand a perfect world. There is no 100 percent equality. Look at the nature? Are we all equal? Do we all have the same height, weigh, wealth? Then why to waste our energy on something which is too difficult to carry out? The same with democracy. All we can do is to balance, equilibrate things around us, not to make them complicated and then suffer because of what we’ve done. The same with feminism and gender-related dilemma. When we call “women”, we have to understand that women are quite different. Thus, if things are perceived in a balanced way, which is not quite easy for every person, both violence against women, girls and men, human being in general, will be reduced. The more we dig in (it may sound contradictory for journalism and science), the more we will get confused and aggressive, striving for ambition and power, since it is hard to share similar values with everyone. So, both men and women have significant role in society, and if those roles are balanced and aimed to understand each other refraining from any exaggeration, the world will be better, because every “–ism” may be risky, no matter it is feminism, nationalism, capitalism, totalitarianism or  authoritarianism.



Posted by on Mar 15 2016. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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