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Ban Ki-moon on Promoting Women’s Empowerment – WWMD (What Would Mill Do?)

April 8, 2011

In the article, “Ban calls on universities to play role in promoting women’s empowerment,” from the UN news service, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls on universities to help in the fight to overcome discrimination and change perceptions about what women can and should do. Ban points out that while the rights of women have come a long way, they remain second-class citizens and are “deprived of basic rights and legitimate opportunities,” in many countries. Much of what he claims in the article is greatly expressed by

Mill as well. For example, “I told them that women represent half the population, they hold up half the sky, and should have their fair share in making the decisions that affects their lives and their countries,” remarked Mr. Ban. Mill would deeply support this claim. On the issue of women’s suffrage, Mill believes that as women make up half the population, they have  a right to vote as political policies affect them, as well. “Under whatever conditions, and within whatever limits, men are admitted to the suffrage, there is not a shadow of justification for not admitting women under the same,” (The Subjection of Women, Chapter III). On the recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, Ki-moon said, “In conversation after conversation in Cairo and Tunis, women told me that they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men – standing up for change, for rights, for opportunity. They expect to take their share in making the revolution succeed, having their fair share of power, making decisions, making policy.” This is what Mill is referring to when he claims that the benefit of allowing women the free use of their faculties would be that of “doubling the mass of mental faculties available for the higher service of humanity,” (The Subjection of Women, Chapter III).

In the interview, Mr. Ban mentioned that,

“Too many women, in too many countries, have no other role beyond marrying and producing children at a young age, then taking care of those families. Although the gender gap in education is closing, far too many girls are still denied schooling, leave prematurely, or complete school with few skills and fewer opportunities. Two-thirds of illiterate adults are female.”

Mill would express great disappointment at this fact, and urge women to fight and take an initiative to demand greater opportunities. However, the women empowerment movement is still an on-going development, and I’m sure in the future, Mill will be happier knowing that change is happening, the unacceptable traditions have fallen, and this is a good thing…contrary to anything Burke would say.

The article can be found at:

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=38005&Cr=gender&Cr1=

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