The Chicago Journal

Gender equality seems further than the UN wanted

Gender equalityOn Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered some terrible news.

With March being Women’s Month, the opportunity seemed ripe to hear some progress on gender equality, but what he delivered was disappointing.

Guterres told the Committee on the Status of Women that progress toward gender equality was “vanishing before our eyes.”

The news

Just days before International Women’s Day on March 8, António Guterres addressed a top UN women’s rights organization.

Gender equality is “300 years away,” according to UN Women, the United Nations body dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Several statistics, according to Guterres, demonstrate that the goal of gender equality is becoming increasingly unattainable, including:

  • High rates of maternal mortality
  • Girls forced into early marriage
  • Girls getting kidnapped and assaulted for school attendance

Women’s rights abused

Throughout his speech, Antonio Guterres made no mention of Iran.

After demonstrations against the murder of Mahsa Amini by Iran’s “morality police,” the country was kicked from the 45-member Commission in December 2022.

“Women’s rights are being abused, threatened, and violated around the world,” said Guterres.

Afghanistan was singled out by the UN Secretary-General, who stated that “women and girls have been erased from public life.”

Kabul university protest

On Monday, young Afghan women gathered outside Kabul University to protest the Taliban’s ban on female education, while males were allowed to return to school.

The UN has been told that the restriction might result in a crime against humanity.

The Taliban restriction took effect in December, nine months after females were barred from returning to secondary school as part of a crackdown on women’s rights following the Taliban’s seizure of power in 2021.

According to them, the university ban was issued because women did not adhere to Islamic dress requirements and other “Islamic ideals.”

Several young ladies felt cheated out of a future because of the restriction.

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Human rights crisis

On Monday, Richard Bennett, the UN Special Rapporteur on the State of Human Rights in Afghanistan, issued a report in Geneva.

According to the study, the Taliban’s ban on female education may result in gender persecution.

It also listed several additional issues, such as:

  • Increased forced and child marriages
  • Sexual abuse and assault
  • Banning women from public spaces like gyms and parks
  • Restrictions that limit women’s ability to work
  • Independent travel

The bans, according to the report, will just worsen current violations of women’s human rights.

The Taliban’s rise to power coincided with a worsening humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan, exacerbating difficulties that had been there for years.

Following the takeover, the United States and its allies put more than $7 billion in Afghan foreign funds on hold.

Furthermore, they stopped receiving international aid, which had a huge impact on their economy, which was heavily dependent on foreign support.

Calls for investigations

According to Antonio Guterres, the UN Women executive director and deputy secretary-general recently visited Afghanistan to demonstrate to Taliban officials that they will never give up the fight for women and girls.

“Crisis and conflict affect women and girls first and worst,” Guterres added.

He highlighted the Ukraine issue to make his point.

As allegations of rape and sexual abuse against Ukrainian women and children appeared during the Russian invasion in 2022, the UN called for an investigation.

Following the revelations came an appeal from UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous for a “gender-sensitive” humanitarian response, saying:

“The combination of mass displacement with the large presence of conscripts and mercenaries, and the brutality displayed against Ukrainian civilians, has raised all red flags.”

She also urged that the rape and sexual assault reports be investigated independently.

A call for action

In June 2022, the United States Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade.

As a result, individual states now have the decision to control abortion.

Poland had established an abortion prohibition due to congenital defects a year before, virtually prohibiting abortions throughout the country.

Antonio Guterres argued for a coordinated effort to achieve gender equality through enhancing women’s education, income, and work opportunities.

He stressed its importance in developing countries of the Global South.

“Centuries of patriarchy, discrimination, and harmful stereotypes have created a huge gender gap in science and technology,” said Guterres.

“Let’s be clear: global frameworks are not working for the world’s women and girls. They need to change.”

Women’s Rights Gets Boost as President Joe Biden Signs Order for Abortion Services

US President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday to help women cross state lines for abortion services.

The executive order is the second after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to trial.

The order

Biden’s order orders the Federal Department of Health and Human Services to consider Medicaid funding for overseas travel for abortions.

Last month, the president signed the first executive order to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision.

The order also instructs the HHS to ensure that health care workers comply with federal anti-discrimination laws so that women can receive necessary medical care as quickly as possible.

Biden’s order is expected to have limited impact as Republicans lead a wave of national legislation that restricts abortion, access to drugs, and financing of similar services.

What led to the order?

On Tuesday, Kansas voters vehemently opposed an election measure that would have removed language protecting abortion rights from the state constitution.

The vote was a landslide victory for the abortion rights movement in the first national electoral test since the Supreme Court ruling.

Kansas is surrounded by states following the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, including Oklahoma and Missouri.

As a result, Kansas has become a destination for out-of-state women seeking access to abortion treatment.

Biden’s sentiments

President Joe Biden continued his COVID isolation while talking virtually with his new task force on access to reproductive health care.

During the phone call, Biden called access to state abortion a “health crisis” and warned that Republicans want to ban the procedure nationwide.

“I don’t think the court has any notion for that matter or the Republican party for that matter… how women are going to respond,” said Biden on Wednesday.

“They don’t have a clue about the power of American women. Last night in Kansas, they found out.”

Biden also called the Kansas result a “decisive victory” and said voters sent a “strong signal” that politicians did not have the right to interfere with women’s human rights.

“This fight is not over, and we saw that last night in Kansas,” said Biden.

“The court practically dared women in this country to go to the ballot box and restore the right to choose.”

Based on the measurements

In early July, Biden issued his first executive order, instructing the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to medical abortion to protect women who travel to abort.

The president’s latest order is based on measurements. But as with the first order, it is unclear how it can be achieved.

According to a senior administration official, the second order prompts the Department of Health and Human Services to consider using funds like Medicaid to support low-income women traveling abroad for abortion services.

It also calls on Xavier Becerra of Health and Human Services to urge states to seek Medicaid exemption when treating patients traveling for reproductive health services.

The Hyde Amendment

The Hyde Amendment’s congressional measure stipulates that Medicaid will not pay for abortion.

The only exception is when the woman’s life is in danger, or the pregnancy is due to rape or incest.

It also directs the department to ensure that healthcare professionals comply with federal non-discrimination laws when providing such services.

The provision also provides for data collection to measure the sentence’s impact on maternal health.

Biden and Kamala Harris

President Joe Biden signed the executive order at the first meeting of the Interagency Task Force on Access to Reproductive Health Care.

Vice President Kamala Harris joined him in the meeting, calling the abortion issue “America’s public health crisis.”

Senate Democrats have rejected Biden’s request to repeal the House’s “filibuster” rule, which requires 60 out of 100 senators to agree on most laws so that anyone can pass a law that officially points out that abortion is a national right.

Kamala Harris can cast a casting vote in an equally divided Senate.


Biden signs executive order aimed at helping women travel for abortion

Biden signs abortion order, says Republicans clueless about women’s power