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Nature has always maintained a balance in the objects of this world in order garnish it with a beauty, and so it produced a balancing factor for each and every object. These balancing factors vary in the proportion of the support they provide to their counterpart. In the same context men & women are considered as the supporting counterpart for each other, but the major conflict in this systematic support is the term µgender discrimination¶. Discrimination is a sociological term referring to the treatment taken toward or against a person of a certain group in consideration based solely on class or category. Discrimination is the actual behavior towards another group. It involves excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to other groups. The United Nations explains: "Discriminatory behaviors take many forms, but they all involve some form of exclusion or rejection." Discriminatory laws such as redlining have existed in many countries. In some countries, controversial attempts such as racial quotas have been used to redress negative effects of discrimination. Though gender discrimination and sexism refers to beliefs and attitudes in relation to the gender of a person, such beliefs and attitudes are of a social nature and do not, normally, carry any legal consequences. Sex discrimination, on the other hand, may have legal consequences. Though what constitutes sex discrimination varies between countries, the essence is that it is an adverse action taken by one person against another person that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. Discrimination of that nature in certain enumerated circumstances is illegal in many countries. Currently, discrimination based on sex is defined as adverse action against another person that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. This is considered a form of prejudice and is illegal in certain enumerated circumstances in most countries. Sexual discrimination can arise in different contexts. For instance an employee may be discriminated against by being asked discriminatory questions during a job interview, or because an employer did not hire, promote or wrongfully terminated an employee based on his or her gender, or employers pay unequally based on gender. In an educational setting there could be claims that a student was excluded from an educational institution, program, opportunity, loan, student group, or scholarship due to his or her gender. In the housing setting there could be claims that a person was refused negotiations on seeking a house, contracting/leasing a house or getting a loan based on his or her gender. Another setting where there have been claims of gender discrimination is banking; for example if one is refused credit or is offered unequal loan terms based on one¶s gender. Another setting where there is usually gender discrimination is when one is refused to extend his or her credit, refused approval of credit/loan process, and if there is a burden of unequal loan terms based on one¶s gender. Socially, sexual differences have been used to justify different roles for men and women, in some cases giving rise to claims of primary and secondary roles. While there are alleged nonphysical differences between men and women, major reviews of the academic literature on gender difference find only a tiny minority of characteristics where there are consistent psychological differences between men and women, and these relate directly to experiences grounded in biological difference. However, there are also some psychological differences in regard to how problems are dealt with and emotional perceptions and reactions which may relate
to hormones and the successful characteristics of each gender during longstanding roles in past primitive lifestyles. Unfair discrimination usually follows the gender stereotyping held by a society. The United Nations had concluded that women often experience a "glass ceiling" and that there are no societies in which women enjoy the same opportunities as men. The term "glass ceiling" is used to describe a perceived barrier to advancement in employment based on discrimination, especially sex discrimination. In the United States in 1995, the Glass Ceiling Commission, a government-funded group, stated: "Over half of all Master¶s degrees are now awarded to women, yet 95% of senior-level managers, of the top Fortune 1000 industrial and 500 service companies are men. Of them, 97% are white." In its report, it recommended affirmative action, which is the consideration of an employee's gender and race in hiring and promotion decisions, as a means to end this form of discrimination. In 2008, women accounted for 51% of all workers in the high-paying management, professional, and related occupations. They outnumbered men in such occupations as public relations managers; financial managers; and human resource managers.
Gender and socialization
It is generally accepted that early gender socialization is one of the most pertinent issues in early childhood, affecting both boys and girls. The foundations for stereotypes in gender roles are laid through early gender socialization. Gender socialization starts at birth and it is a process of learning cultural roles according to one's sex. Right from the beginning, boys and girls are treated differently by the members of their own environment, and learn the differences between boys and girls, women and men. Parental and societal expectations from boys and girls, their selection of gender-specific toys, and/or giving gender based assignments seem to define a differentiating socialization process that can be termed as "gender socialization". There are numerous examples from varied parts of the world confirming that gender socialization is intertwined with the ethnic, cultural, and religious values of a given society. And gender socialization continues throughout the life cycle. Gender socialization is the process by which people learn to behave in a certain way, as dictated by societal beliefs, values, attitudes and examples. Gender socialization begins as early as when a woman becomes pregnant and people start making judgments about the value of males over females. These stereotypes are perpetuated by family members, teachers and others by having different expectations for males and females. Imagine the following scenario: a young pregnant woman is about to have her first child. When asked whether she wishes to have a girl or boy, she replies that it doesn¶t matter. But, sitting next to her is an older relative who says ³Oh, hopefully it will be a boy.´ In small, but meaningful ways such as this, gender socialization starts even before birth. Children start facing norms that define ³masculine´ and ³feminine´ from an early age. Boys are told not to cry, not to fear, not to be forgiving and instead to be assertive, and strong. Girls on the other hand are asked not to be demanding, to be forgiving and accommodating and ³ladylike´. These gender roles and expectations have large scale ramifications. In many parts of the world, girls face discrimination in the care they receive in terms of their access to nutritious foods and health care, leading them to believe that they deserve to be treated differently than boys. The degree of gender differences observed varies in all cultures in respect to infant, toddler and young child health, nutrition, care developmental activities, education, hygiene and protection.
Feminism is a political, cultural, and economic movement aimed at establishing equal rights and legal protection for women. Feminism includes sociological theories and philosophies concerned with issues of gender difference. It is also a movement that campaigns for women's rights and interests. Nancy Cott defines feminism as the belief in the importance of gender equality, invalidating the idea of gender hierarchy as a socially constructed concept. According to Maggie Humm and Rebecca Walker, the history of feminism can be divided into three waves. The first wave transpired in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the second occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, and the third extends from the 1990s to the present. Feminist theory emerged from these feminist movements. It is manifest in a variety of disciplines such as feminist geography, feminist history, and feminist literary criticism. Feminism has changed traditional perspectives on a wide range of areas in human life, from culture to law. Feminist activists have campaigned for women's legal rights² such as rights of contract, property rights, and voting rights²while also promoting women's rights to bodily integrity and autonomy, abortion rights, and reproductive rights. They have struggled to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and rape. On economic matters, feminists have advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave and equal pay, and against other forms of gender-specific discrimination against women. Although the terms feminism and feminist did not gain widespread use until the 1970s, they were already being used in public parlance much earlier; for instance, Katharine Hepburn speaks of the "feminist movement" in the 1942 film Woman of the Year. During much of its history, feminist movements and theories were led predominantly by middleclass white women from Western Europe and North America. However, at least since Sojourner Truth's 1851 speech to American feminists, women of other races have proposed alternative feminisms. This trend accelerated in the 1960s with the Civil Rights movement in the United States and the collapse of European colonialism in Africa, the Caribbean, parts of Latin America and Southeast Asia. Since that time, women in former European colonies and the Third World have proposed "Post-colonial" and "Third World" feminisms.
General Situation of Women and Government Policy on Gender
According to the Commission of Inquiry for Women, laws on adultery and rape have been subject to widespread misuse, with 95 percent of the women accused of adultery being found innocent either in the court of first instance or on appeal. However, by that time, the woman may have spent months in jail, suffering sexual abuse at the hands of the police, and the destruction of her reputation. The Commission found that the main victims of the Hudood laws are poor women who are unable to defend themselves against slanderous charges. The laws also have been used by husbands and other male family members to punish their wives and female relatives for reasons having nothing to do with sexual propriety. As many as 40-50% of the women in jails in cities like Lahore, Peshawar, and Mardan await trial for adultery, but according to some human rights monitors, 80 percent of all adultery-related Hudood cases are filed without any supporting evidence. But even when acquitted, the trauma for the woman may not end, because they then become vulnerable to attack for a socalled "honour killing", where male relatives murder women they accuse of immoral behavior.
According to human rights observers, honor killings are rampant in Pakistan's feudal-dominated rural and tribal areas. Although there are numerous reports of women killed or mutilated by male relatives who suspect them of adultery, few such cases are investigated seriously and those who are arrested are usually acquitted on the grounds that they were "provoked," or for a lack of witnesses. While the tradition of killing those suspected of illicit sexual relations in so-called "honor killings", in order to restore tribal or family honor (which is known as "karo-kari" in Sindh), applies equally to offending men and women, women are far more likely to be killed than men, and cases have been reported from every province in Pakistan. Honour killings have also been triggered by a woman found conversing, or sharing a joke or light moment, with a man who wasn't a relative. A woman who is perceived as being "disobedient" to her husband or the husband's family may also fall victim to an honor killing, or may be badly battered, burned by fire, or disfigured by acid attacks. Human Rights advocates charge that there have been countless instances of such "honor killings" similar to the two-hundred and fifty women who were burned to death in their homes in 1997 in the city of Lahore, of which only six cases led to arrest. The Commission of Inquiry for Women cited newspapers from Lahore which reported an average of 15 cases of stove deaths per month during a 6-month period in 1997; most of the victims were young married women. The Commission noted that many such cases are not reported by hospitals and, even when they are, the police are reluctant to investigate or file charges. Dowry demands are also factors in such killings. The 1979 Hudood Ordinances abolished punishment for raping one's wife. Thus, marital rape is not a crime. Since marriage registration (nikah) sometimes occurs years before a marriage is consummated (rukh sati), the nikah (no consummated) marriage is regarded as a formal marital relationship.. In rural areas, the practice of a woman "marrying the Quran" is widely accepted if the family cannot arrange a suitable marriage or wants to keep the family wealth intact. A woman "married to the Quran" is forbidden to have any contact with males over 14 years of age, including her immediate family members. In inheritance cases women generally do not receive--or are pressed to surrender the share of the inheritance they are legally due. Under the Hadood laws, the testimony of a woman is not admissible in cases involving Hadd punishments, and in other cases, the testimony of two women is seen as equivalent to that of one man. For instance, a woman's testimony regarding financial matters is not admissible unless corroborated by another woman. Hadood laws are also used to intimidate and oppress women sold into prostitution According to the Parliamentary Commission, women in some tribal areas were intimidated into not voting during the 1997 elections. Announcements were made on mosque loudspeakers that voting by women was un-Islamic and women going to polling stations risked having their houses burned down. As a result, no more than 37 women (out of 6,600 registered to vote) actually cast ballots in Jamrud, in the Khyber Agency. It is therefore little surprise that only six women held seats in the last 217-member National Assembly, (up from 4 in the previous Parliament).
Women's literacy trails that of men, and according to some reports, female literacy rates may be as low as 2 percent in some areas of rural Sindh and Baluchistan. Participation of women in the workforce is also much lower than in Sri Lanka or India. Although there is gender inequity and discrimination throughout the subcontinent, the plight of women in Pakistan can be especially traumatic since not only do women face tremendous social pressures, Islamic Laws systematize onerous and intense legal burdens on women. Even as women's rights activists and progressive trade union activists fight a valiant battle for social change, their task is made much more difficult due to restrictions on political activity and limitations on the press. Frequent bouts of military dictatorship have made the work of activists trying to bring about gender equality in Pakistani society especially challenging. Women are thus paying an especially high price for the US's support of dictatorial regimes in Pakistan who have cynically allied with the most regressive of the Islamist forces to inflict highly discriminatory Islamic Hadood laws on Pakistan's hapless women. The perverse logic of the two-nation theory that has propelled Pakistan towards "Islamic Purity" continues to hang as a very heavy burden on those trying to bring about greater social justice in Pakistan.
http://www.unicef.org/earlychildhood/index_40749.html http://india_resource.tripod.com/grpakistan.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination