Having the privilege to live in one of the so called’developed’ countries makes us think that all the other ones all over the worldhave reached the same level of growth. Unfortunately, there are still manyproblems for the achievement of development that need to be solved. In fact, manyorganizations are trying to work on these issues and most governments are willingto collaborate to enhance the situation. To prove this, more than 150 worldleaders’ reunited at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September2015. Their main aim was to adopt an ambitious new sustainable development agenda. ‘Transforming Our World: 2030 Agenda for SustainableDevelopment’ was the result of a three-day meeting in which the outcome wasa declaration regarding seventeen sustainable goals and one hundred andseventy-nine targets.
All objectives concerned the most important and commondilemmas of our time: poverty, health, education, hanger, environment, economicgrowth, and gender equalities. Focusing on gender equalities, goal number fiveof the UN Declaration explains how empowering women and girls’ rights should beessential for implementing growth; but also, all forms of violence, both in thepublic and in the private spheres, including trafficking, sexual exploitations,genital mutilations should be banned to achieve human rights and a prosperousand sustainable world. Through the years many effort have been made regarding therealization and the preservation of gender equality. For example, theCommission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal globalintergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of genderequality and the empowerment of women. It promotes women’s rights and documentsthe reality of their lives throughout the world. The commission adoptsmulti-year work programmes to appraise progress and make further recommendationsto accelerate the implementation of Platform for Actions, which were adoptedfor the first time for the World Conference of Human Rights, and states that humanrights of women and girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisiblepart of universal human rights.
The first multi-year programme dates back to1987, and it contained priority themes for discussion and action at its annualsessions. For examples themes for 2017 were: ‘Priority theme: Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world ofwork. Review theme: Challenges and achievements in the implementation of theMillennium Development Goals for women and girls, from the 58th session of theCSW.’ While for 2018 ‘Priority theme:Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowermentof rural women and girls. Review theme: Participation in and access of women tothe media, and information and communications technologies and their impact onand use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women, from the47th session of the CSW.’ 1 Women’s situation differs, of course, from one country toanother.
Gender equality have been nearly reached in developed countries where womenare economically empowered and have a voice in society. The situation changes speakingof developing countries where women are generally silent and their voice hasbeen stifled by economic and cultural factors. Poor countries by no means havea monopoly on gender inequality; in fact, disparities in health, education, andbargaining of power within marriage tend to be larger in countries with low GDPper capita. Speaking of health as one of the dilemma in reaching genderequality, we can prove how women frequently face discrimination in this sector.In South Asia, for example, studies show that families are far more likely totake an ill boy than an ill girl to a health centre and women are often deniedreproductive rights whether legally or illegally. Female genitalmutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a health gender tragedy and it is recognised as ahorrific violation of human rights.
It is mostly practised in sub-SaharanAfrica and the Middle East. The UNICEF estimated in 2016 that 200 million womenliving today in 30 countries have undergone these procedures. This practice,does not only result from decisions made by men but many mothers, who haveundergone FGM/C also require their daughters to do so. The problem is that, ifin a society other families practice this type of activities, it becomesdifficult for one family to refuse to take part to them because in doing so thedaughter will result ‘dishonoured’ and this will ruin her marriageability.Luckily, there are encouraging signs of progress of the FGM/C practices alsothanks to the work of locally based NGO’s and similar organizations. Focusing on education, we need to analyse the fact thatvarious studies show that the expansion of basic schooling of female earnsamong the very highest rates of returns of every investment. As a matter offact, the global cost of failing to educate girls is about $92 billion a year.Studies by the United Nations, the World Bank and other agencies have concludedthat the social benefits alone of increased education of girls is more thansufficient to cover its costs.
But, evidence from countries such as Bangladesh,Pakistan and India shows that we cannot assume that education of women willincrease automatically with increases in family income. Cultural factors remain one the most critical issues in boththemes which in any case are strictly correlated – for example, education ofgirls has also shown to be one of the most cost effective means of improvinglocal health standards. In many parts of Asia, a boy provides future economicbenefits, such as support of parents in their old age, a possible dowry uponmarriage, remaining in the family’s farm to work in the adulthood. A girl incontrast, require a dowry upon marriage, often at a young age and will move forsure to the village of her husband’s family, becoming responsible for thewelfare of her husband’s parents rather than her own. If we analyse a situationclosely, a girl from a poor rural family in South Asia won’t have manyalternatives in life except serving a husband and his family; indeed,ironically a more educated girl may be considered less marriageable. For the parents, treatment of disease may be expensive andmay require several days lost from work to go into town for medical attention.Empirical studies demonstrate what we might guess from these perverse incentives:Often more strenuous efforts are made to save the life of a son than adaughter, and girls generally receive less schooling than boys.The bias toward boys helps explain the missing women’mystery.
In Asia, the United Nations has found that there are far fewer femalesas a share of the population than would be predicted by demographic norms.Estimating from developed-country gender ratios, Nobel laureate Amartya Senconcluded that worldwide ‘many more than’ 100 million women are ‘missing’.These conditions are continuing to worsen in China and India, and this wouldrepresent a huge problem since many young males will be unable to marry andthis would increase the chances for future social instabilities. But, AmartyaSen also noted that, dearth of women is not just a matter of poverty per sebecause in Africa, where poverty is most severe, there are about 2% more womenthan men. Although this number is not as high as in western Europe or NorthAmerica, it is still much higher than in Asia, which in contrast has higherincome on average.
A survey of 2010, estimated the ratio of males to femalesthat in China was 1.06 and in India was 1.08, while in the USA, UK or Canadawas 0.98. This is the proof that males are more than women and the bad news isthat the situation may be worsening in several countries, especially in Asia.Maintaining China as an example, the Chinese Academy of Science estimatedalways in a 2010 report, that 119.5 boys were born for every 100 girls in 2009.Even though a difference of ten might seem nothing it become consistent if wemeasure it on thousands of people and also the main cause of this outcome wasselective abortion.
In India, the ratio is again very high and even reach 112.Often, these average measures cannot take a reliant picture of heavy inequalitiesin specific regions. Up to now, we mentioned Asia but also Africa face acritical situation regarding gender equality; anyhow some studies findingsfound a small pro-female bias and other a small rising pro-mal bias. As previously mentioned, better educated mother, improveprospects for both her sons’ and daughters’ not only health and education butalso life. In fact, the nutritional level of children in rural areas improveonly if mothers had the possibility to be educated. Studies conducted by HaroldAlderman and Marito Garcia reported that the incidence of child stunting wouldbe reduced by a quarter of current levels (from 63.3% to 47.
1% in their samplein Pakistan) if female obtained a primary level education. The incredible thingis that they noted that the impact of the project would have a more effectiveimpact than a 10% increase in per capita income.Also, we need to remember that education is strictlycorrelated with health is obvious how a higher level of mother’s educationbrings an implementation also in health and a benefit for children.All this theories and evidences prove how an increase infamily income do not automatically represent an increase in the whole status ofa family. If higher income cannot be expected to necessarily lead to higherhealth and education, as we will show in subsequent sections, there are noguarantees that higher health or education will lead to higher productivitiesand incomes.
Much depends on the context, on whether gains from income growthand also the benefits of public investments in health and education and otherinfra- structure are shared equitably. In all this analysis of gender equality we always need toremember that we live in the twenty-first century where the main means ofcommunication are the medias. For this reason, the obvious question is: doesthe media influence gender equality? If yes, how? First of all, we need to specify what is a social media? It isa means of connecting people, that permits all sorts of what we called massscale communication.
Its services and tools use the internet to makecommunication easier, especially where communication canals are limited. This limitations are themselves the aspects that make socialmedia different from the other kind of media: online activity encouragesparticipation and in fact in this case the audience can also be the contentprovider; another symbol is their openness in encouraging flows of information,comments and recognition thanks to different activities; social media can alsobe defined as a community where virtual encounters effectively provide sharingof ideas. Being a powerful tool their primary use is: publishing,sharing, networking, buying, localization.So, media play an essential role in our everyday lives. Forthis reason, partnering with private sector organizations, UN Women has beenpromoting the use of media, especially social media, as a powerful tool toadvocate for elimination of violence against female and promote genderequality. Evidence has been shown by the outcome of a project designed byPartners for Prevention called ‘EngagingYoung Men through Social Media for the Prevention of Violence against Women’.
Partners for Prevention is a UNDP, UNFPA, UN Women and UNV regional jointprogramme for gender-based violence prevention in Asia and the Pacific. The use of social media such as YouTube, Facebook and otherblogging sites has become part of the daily lives of millions of people in Asiawhere there are more than 1,076,000,000 internet users – more than any otherregion of the rest of the world – and the world fastest growing segment ofsocial network users in the world. Since this means of communication hasdemonstrated its strength to affect social actors ability to change powerrelations in society we need to understand better the real potential of thistool especially in influencing and mobilizing people. To prevent violenceagainst women (VAW) were supported campaigns to raise awareness and motivate -focused on the youngest pat of society – to take action to prevent VAW. Threewere the operations implemented in 2011/2012: ‘Must Bol’, conducted by Community the Youth Collective (CYC), ayouth NGO from Delhi; ‘Love Journey’campaign made by Peace and Development Vietnam, a Spanish NGO in Hanoi; andlast but not the least the ’17 Man’campaign built by Eastern Campus, in China by a public relations company withthe guidance from UN Women China. The three campaigns answered some specific questions such as’can social media help to bring about changes in awareness, attitudes andbehaviours?’ and ‘what kinds of violations against women prevention objectivescan social media help influence?’.
There are some ethical principles that need to be consideredduring social media campaigns for the prevention of VAW such as: victims ofviolence must be put under safety and support, in order to deeply understand aneffective response system which can include collaboration and coordination;assure commitment to gender justice, because it cannot be just grounded infeminist perceptions but must conceive also men’s support and actions; evidenceand innovation, since the field is relatively new evidence of its effectivenessmust be found to help women; ethics and safety; long-term vision, buildingprojects for the future should help to build a sustainable foundations anddrive violence prevention effort foreword. Furthermore, we can consider other important points thatmust be met when social media campaigning. It is important that any story orresearch, or speech from people that have experienced violence, should protecttheir confidentiality and privacy. Also, violations against women arerepresented as a cross-cutting study, in all communities and socio-economicgroups. Resources must not be used to negatively describe one specific sectorof society as being worse than another. Identification should be avoided unlessit is permitted by the person who has been interviewed. In fact, the use of imagesand the identification of women’s shelters should not victimise or stigmatisedthe victim in question.
Evidence of this effective tools for social mediacampaigning come from India, China and Vietnam. The three campaign previously mentioned showed threedifferent uses: the ‘Love Journey’ campaign served as a forefront while the’17Men’ campaign supported a more traditional view, and finally the ‘Must Bol’campaign adopted the characteristics of both the previous two. Every campaign represented a success. However, social mediaare just one part in preventing VAW, because many other factors and aspectsmust be counted to reach the final goal. In fact, when social media isconnected to other types of interventions and actions, it can be a powerful andeffective tool to make a change. ‘The conclusions of the three researches showed that socialmedia can actually play an important part in the spectrum of actions that needto take place to prevent violence against women; social media can be amobilizing force and a tool for creating dialogue and fostering an enablingenvironment, but on its own will most likely not change gender norms; socialmedia is most effective when connected to other on the ground, interpersonalactivities.’2 All the previous statements have sustained that genderinequality is still present just in developing countries, and poor countrieswith low GDP per capita. But exactly combining the media and the developedworld, a huge scandal about ‘sexual harassment’ exploded in Hollywood in 2017.
Until 1979 the term ‘sexual harassment’ was not recognisedas a legal concept. In October 2017 something happened and Hollywood’s womendecided to take a clear position and accused many famous and respected men ofsexual harassment. In fact, some of the biggest names in arts and entertainmenthave been caught up in a proper scandal that overturned Hollywood.This phenomenon has also been called the ‘Weinstein effect’because were exactly the first accusations against the film producer HarveyWeinstein that launched a proper worldwide wave of accusation since then, 148have been accused of sexual misconduct, ranging from inappropriate texts togroping to rape. These are the accused, from Hollywood and Washington, fromSilicon Valley and New York.
Not here are those whose names haven’t been bigenough to garner national headlines and the many more who haven’t been named atall, whose identities are only known by those who shared #metoo.31UN Women. (2018).
Commission on the Status of Women. online Available at: http://www.unwomen.
org/en/cswAccessed 19 Jan. 2018. 2Partners4prevention.org. (2018).
Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. onlineAvailable at:http://www.partners4prevention.
org/sites/default/files/resources/socialmedia_final.pdfAccessed 17 Jan. 2018.
3USA TODAY. (2018). The Harvey Weinstein effect. online Available at:https://www.
usatoday.com/pages/interactives/life/the-harvey-weinstein-effect/Accessed 20 Jan. 2018.