Historical Treatment of Women and Minorities
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Historically, different societies are observed to have treated women and the minorities differently from the males. Many societies valued their men more than women and were given the first priority. Women and the minorities were discriminated against in almost all avenues and were considered to be inferior to the men. Men on the other hand were placed on a moral high ground by the society. Women and minorities under different cultural setting were denied equal political and economic opportunities. They were sidelined in respect to economic and political matters and only the male dominated. Women were only entrusted to inferior tasks in both Western and Non-western setting. This study seeks to compare the historic treatment of women and minorities as compared to their male counterparts on the basis of economic and political justice. The study will discuss the issue under case study of the US, Asia and the Africa (Lorber, 2005).
In the US history, women and the minority groups, majority of who were the immigrants were formally discriminated against. This situation was experienced for the better part of the 20thcentury. Women and the immigrants were restricted from performing various activities and if allowed they were treated unfairly. During early 1900s industrialization was creeping in the US and the economic activities were numerous. During this era, women and minorities were treated unfairly. In the economic sphere, they were forced to work for longer hours than men and would receive a lesser pay. They were also under strict supervision under which they would be treated harshly if the made errors. They were given unequal chances of job promotion as well as terms of employment and job responsibilities (Hacker, 2014). Lorber (2005) indicates that the number of women involved in management of corporate organizations was very low. More than 80 percent of national and international corporations in the early 20th century had no female board members. The immigrants experienced similar treatment but theirs was on the basis of ethnicity other than gender.
According to Fuwa (2004), women and the minorities were not empowered economically in the early and mid 20th century. The economic systems at the time denied then an equal chance to participate in most economic activities. White males were given the first priority in employment opportunities while women and the minority groups took the second and third priority respectively. Trade was conducted by white males with minimal female involvement. Education and learning opportunities were also were also unfairly distributed in the society where the males took lead. The political system in the US was also male dominated. White women were less involved in political matters as well as the immigrant groups. At times where women were involved in politics and joined various political parties they were subordinate to the males. The minority groups such as the immigrants were denied chances of getting involved in the country’s political matters. Women and groups of minorities were denied economic and political justice by the white male dominated society. However, the situation changed in early 1960s where President Kennedy approved an affirmative action which ensured equality in gender, religion and ethnicity. Economic and political discrimination was therefore eliminated in the US. Economic discrimination among women and minority groups is however present till today although in small magnitudes.
Just like the case of the United States, women in Asia have experienced social, economic as well as political injustices in the past. Some of the injustices persist in some Asian countries till today. On economic quarters, women were treated unfairly to men. Most of the Asian countries in the 20th century were male dominated. According to the Asian culture, women were regarded as inferior to men and could not take part in any activity in the same level as men. Men always occupied a higher status than the women. In the early twentieth century, land was the most common economic factor of production. Most of the land was owned by men. Women and minority groups who comprised of minority clans had the least share of land (Osmani & Sen, 2003). Michael (2012) indicates that ancient Asian culture prohibited women from involvement in trade and business hence these activities were dominated by the men. This situation is observed till today as there are very few big female business personalities in Asia today. In South Asia for example, women have been denied access to basic education. They are subjected to oppression by the males throughout their lifetime.
The political system in Asian countries limits women involvement. Since time immemorial, women in Asia have been barred from participating in political activities. The culture adopted by the Asian people discriminates women against men. Based on their culture, women should not take leadership positions due to their inability to lead. Leadership positions were hence given to the males in the society a situation that is evident till today. In China for example, women have been denied political leadership positions. Just like the case of America, women are subordinate to men when allowed to participate in political matters. In China’s political history especially in the 20thcentury, there were very few female political leaders. The political injustice between men and women is observed through the wide gap in number of male and female political leaders. The economic difference in Asian countries between men and women is observed through poverty levels. All through the 20th century and early 21st century, statistics show that most Asian women experience higher poverty levels than men. Women in the Asian societies were discriminated against by the males in both political and economic settings (Michael, 2012).
African countries are classified as developing nations and their economic and political structures are not yet fully developed. However, the women and minority groups in almost all African countries experienced some form of political and economic injustices. Formal political and economic systems in Africa were established after the colonial period in the mid twentieth century. African culture favors men over women and this scenario facilitated discrimination of women in economic and political activities. After colonization period, women in Africa were denied their right for education as the African culture celebrated boys more than girls. This situation limited their economic growth prospects and most led desperate lifestyles couple with poverty and economic hardships. African women in historical African setting were denied an opportunity of involvement in economic activities. The African culture underrates women this has been the reason for their discrimination in both political and economic matters. Since more boys than girls had the chance education opportunity, the male occupied most productive economic activities (Hunter, 2007).
Based on the African culture, women were restricted from getting involved in business and trade activities. Women roles were restricted to domestic chores and other informal activities. In traditional African setting, Women were under strict supervision by their husbands and were not allowed to engage in any activities without their husband’s permission. For example in Tanzania, a tribe called the Maasai does not allow their women to get involved in economic activities such as trade and business. The situation carries on in the current African society. In the modern African society women and minority groups discrimination along the economic sphere is still visible (The Economist, 2014). Women and the minority in Africa are discriminated against in respect to employment opportunities. Since civilization crept in African countries, fewer opportunities have been presented to women than men. Political discrimination among African women was experienced in mid twentieth century after the colonial period. Most academic elites of the time were men since they were more learned than women were. In addition to that, the African culture despised women and was opposed to women taking leadership positions. Women were denied the chance of holding any superior leadership position. Their involvement in political matters was maintained at the minimum level. The African culture is gender bias and has been unfair to women involvement in both political and economic matters (World Health Organization, 2014).
It is visible that women have been discriminated against in almost all the societies around the world. It has been observed that men have put women and the minority groups on an inferior position from the historical times in different continents. However, the approach of such economic and political alienation in these countries is different. The US for example is classified as a first world country and the effects of women and minority group discrimination does not tally with that experience in Asian and African countries some of which are classified as second world and third world countries. In Asian and African countries, women discrimination is evidenced by high poverty levels among the women and the minority groups (Lorber, 2005).