Empowering women will provide better world, specialist says
By OLIVIER REY
NORMAN, Okla. – Today people mainly talk about marginalized minorities such as the black community, Native Americans, and LGBT in the United States. However, still today there is not a minority that is a more marginalized group than women, who represent half the world population (in 2015 there was an estimate of 64,940 more men than women in a total of 7.3 billion people).
In an interview with Red Dirt Report, Nyla Ali Khan, a native woman of Kashmir, a member of the Advisory Council for the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women and professor talked about women’s conditions in Oklahoma and Kashmir.
“I have been motivated to imagine the possibility of different destinies for women in a world that is not governed by the aspirations and wishes of those women,” Khan said.
Khan said women’s conditions in Oklahoma are still difficult and unequal to men’s, such as less representation in higher education and politics, a lower income making 80 cents on the dollar compared to their male colleague, health, and marital violence.
“As a result of Medicaid expansion not being accepted, healthcare disparity, particularly for women has increased,” she said. “Social services, like rehabilitation treatments, are not as readily available to socioeconomically marginalized women, who lack mobility.”
On the other side of the world in Kashmir, Khan said women are suffering mainly due to militarization and militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. The consequences are a near complete absence of women in the different level of power, economic and social life. The feeling of marginalization is amplified by the growing lack of mobility, and lack of progressive politics in a conflict zone.
“We, as women, Kashmiri as well as Oklahoman, cannot afford to play havoc with the empowerment that critical intelligence gives us, the credibility that articulates expressions of our situation give us, and the intelligence that we employed to create a national identity,” Khan said.
Khan thinks in both Oklahoma and Kashmir the patriarchal culture is still dominant preventing the possibility of women’s activism. She added that more attention needs to be pay to the fall-out of domestic violence, particularly home sides resulting from intimate patterns violence. And Oklahoma also has the highest incarceration rate of women in the world.
“Not enough emphasis is laid on how Kashmiri and Oklahoman women of different political, religious, ideological, and class orientations can become resource managers and advocates for other women in emergency and crisis situations,” Khan said.
“Politics and policy-making are linked to the powerful male realist rather than with the maternal, negotiating woman.”
The solution provided by Khan to stop these disasters is to educate women to seek a better professional and political life. In addition, to facilitate a better representation Khan believed women should get the same rights as men in every domain of life, and also special rights for mothers and children.
Additionally, Kashmiri women should have full access to education in both Kashmiri and English.
However, Khan thinks civil society needs to be strengthened if women want to raise the bar saying, “Kashmir and Oklahoma need to revive and reinvigorate civil society institutions that could initiate groups to assemble freely and express shared interests, values, and purposes.”
According to Khan, a better representation of women in every field of life will ensure a better future for humanity by reducing discrimination and improving mutual understanding.
“Female leaders can lead the way by offering new ideas, building broad-based political coalitions, and working to bridge organizational divides.
“Women active in politics must aim not just to improve the position of their particular organizations, but also forge connections between the group’s agendas for conflict resolution and reconstruction of society with the strategies and agendas of other groups in the population, who have also suffered from ongoing conflicts.
“In this way, women’s groups can thus pave the way for sustainable peace, universal human rights, and security from violent threats of all kinds,” Khan said
Originally published by Red Dirt Report. Reprinted with permission.