You don’t need to turn the clock back to the 60s through a Mad Men box set (age rating 15+) nor the 70s via the recent film Anchorman 2 (PG13) to see examples of sexism directed at women – either aggressively or in passive office politics.
In America, and Ireland, we just turn to the adverts in magazines, billboards or switch on the news.
This remarkable video (see from 1:24mins onwards especially), put together by The Representation Project (USA), asks us to imagine a world where the media inspires women instead of degrading them. It is a movement that
“uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change.”
It challenges us to consider what’s appropriate and acceptable in the way women are treated and portrayed, particularly in the news media and in advertising, in everyday life.
Demeaning images and chauvinistic attitudes directed at women are not a thing of the past: they are carefully constructed narratives that still look to justify and reinforce men’s power over women.
Could this simply be a ‘Western’ problem found in countries such as America that have been ensnared by the excesses of a bloated consumer society? Is it just a news and marketing problem?
Based on the attitudes expressed by a slew governments to the international women’s bill (CEDAW), this international agreement stands out as the single most contentious piece of international legislation ever put to UN members.
Ireland shares reservations against women’s bill in the same company as 76 other countries, including Yemen, Turkey, UK, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Pakistan, Morocco and Mexico. The treaty system also allows for countries to change their mind and withdraw reservations, as Ireland has done in the past. It should be noted that the US is only one of seven states in the world that has failed to ratify the treaty.
With all of this in mind, are there videos similar to the Representation Project video that includes both developed and developing world perspectives?
Should there be?
We’ll be following this story closely as it unfolds over the coming year.
In words and deeds: Nelson Mandela on development and international justice
10th December 2013 • By Ciara Regan
Many have said that in the passing of Mandela, a shining light in the world, a beacon of hope, has gone. This, I feel, is not true. We are all familiar with the more famous quotes from Madiba, however, here are some we may not be so familiar with – some to remember.
It is now up to us to ensure that his light does not become extinguished. It is up to us to keep not only his memory alive, but his ideals too.
On aid for Trade
“We need trade justice: no more subsidies and tariffs from the west that harm the exports and the people of Africa and the developing world. We need help to build infrastructure so that Africa can take advantage of trading opportunities and be given a fair chance to compete in the world economy.”
“The fight against Aids goes beyond the physical and physiological; it challenges our thinking and our approach to many aspects of life. Let us start that war by breaking the silence around the issue of HIV/Aids. Stigmatisation and silence are as serious killers as the virus itself. Much of the progress we have made in this country in combating Aids is due to the growing tide of speaking publicly and clearly, and the growing public willingness to embrace and support those living with HIV/Aids.
As important as medicine and treatment are, people living with HIV/Aids need even more importantly love, support and compassion.”
“There was a time when universities were not primarily concerned with the special and often quite individualised needs of students. The institutions were repositories of great scientific and scholarly learning and it was up to the student to find his or her way into that specialised world. The members of the faculty were experts in their particular fields and their task was to continue to improve their scholarly expertise. To spend special energy on teaching those that could not cope was not always part of the primary function of the academic.
Universities must continue to be leading institutions for specialised high level scientific knowledge. In our own country, where we spend lots of time and energy contemplating issues of transformation also in higher education, that demand must remain non-negotiable. What one expects of the university in the changed circumstances is that it should utilise its expertise to find ways of greater sharing of knowledge.
It is not merely by accident that those from particular sectors of society are better skilled in accessing the world of knowledge than others. It is not as if those from poorer backgrounds or from the socially marginalised sectors have innately less intelligence or skills of knowledge acquisition. Many of these differences are socially and historically conditioned and are therefore capable of being addressed.”
On Poverty Reduction and the role of the developing world
“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom. The steps that are needed from the developed nations are clear: The first is ensuring trade justice. I have said before that trade justice is a truly meaningful way for the developed countries to show commitment to bringing about an end to global poverty. The second is an end to the debt crisis for the poor countries. The third is to deliver much more aid and make sure it is of the highest quality.”
“At the September Beijing Conference of the United Nations women of the world will gather to chart a path for humanity towards bringing an end to the evil that continues to plague even the most powerful of nations – and that is discrimination on the grounds of sex. I am assured of the constructive contribution that our women will make at that conference.
The constitution writing process is well underway. As a tribute to the legions of women who navigated the path of fighting for justice before us, we ought to imprint in the supreme law of the land, firm principles upholding the rights of women. The women themselves and the whole of society, must make this a prime responsibility.
We call on women to take an active part and leadership positions in the coming local government elections and structures that will emerge from these elections.”
A tribute by cartoonist Zapiro from today’s Mail & Guardian newspaper to the life and times of Nelson Mandela, former lawyer, radical anti-apartheid activist, prisoner for 27 years, a canny politician and the first President in a fully democratic South Africa who died in his Johannesburg home last night at the age of 95.
The Mail & Guardian have set up a website tapered with old news reels, news clippings and a range of material for general readers on the history, struggles and people that brought about the end of Apartheid in South Africa in our lifetime. It’s well worth checking out http://madiba.mg.co.za
In early 2014 we’ll be returning to the legacy of the world seeking to end Apartheid here on DevelopmentEducation.ie in which students, trade unions, sports fans, politicians and boycott supporters in Ireland have had a long and proud history in supporting.