United Nations, October 22, 2016: The United Nations on Friday officially named the popular comic-book character Wonder Woman as the Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.
“Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but also a foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world, and Wonder Woman will be another valuable partner for us to achieve such a world by inspiring her millions of fans worldwide to stand up for gender equality,” EFE news quoted the UN under-secretary-general for communications and public information Spain’s Cristina Gallach as saying.
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The choice of the comic character, however, has sparked complaints among some UN personnel and representatives of various countries, who say it would be much more appropriate to use a real live person to represent women and girls.
Dozens of officials and diplomats protested against the decision on Friday during the presentation of this collaboration of the United Nations with DC Entertainment, owner of rights to the superheroine.
The United Nations, Gallach said on Friday, believes the use of Wonder Woman “will help us reach a broad audience to stand up for action on improving gender equality”.
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The organisation’s spokeswoman, Stephane Dujarric, also recalled that the UN has many real women as honorary ambassadors, and Wonder Woman just joins their ranks.
“I think this is a new and creative way for us to reach a different audience with critical messages about women’s empowerment,” EFE news quoted Dujarric as saying.
Among other celebrities, the United Nations collaborates on gender equality issues with Queen Mathilde of Belgium, activists Graca Machel and Alaa Murabit, and actresses Emma Watson and Charlize Theron.
The comic-book character will be part of a campaign to promote the goals of gender equality included in the Sustainable Development Goals approved in 2015 by the UN to replace the Millennium Development Goals.
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According to the United Nations, Wonder Woman will remind everyone of the collective achievements that are possible through the empowerment of women, and that everyone everywhere can lend a hand.
Taking part in the event held on Friday at UN headquarters were, among others, actresses Lynda Carter — who played Wonder Woman on television in the 1970s — and Gal Gadot, the new superheroine. (IANS)
A lot of social evils which have disgraced our history are still very much prevalent
Female infanticide is known to be the intentional killing of female just-born owing to people preferring male just-born
In China and India alone, an estimated 2,000,000 baby girls go “missing” each year
Even after so many years of independence, we are not in a position to call our country a superpower. It is not hard to believe this because in an independent country like ours exist horrific acts like the merciless killing of the girl child. A lot of social evils which have disgraced our history are still very much prevalent. The matter of female infanticide is something that has deeply touched our heart and we feel it as our prime agenda to raise our voice against it.
Female infanticide is known to be the intentional killing of female just-born owing to people preferring male just-born. This has been going on for many years and has resulted in the deaths of countless girl foetuses. People are of the opinion that the girl child is inferior to the male child and this is clearly reflected in the fact that in many parts of the world, women are still not given a status equivalent to that of men. This is no doubt the highest level of brutality and the most destructive kind of bias existing in our country and in many other countries.
A direct proof of these facts comes from UNICEF which in its recent report concluded that 50 million girls and women are missing from the population of India because of this bias. As a matter of fact, in most countries for every 100 male births, there are approximately 105 female births. In our country, the 105 comes straight down to 93! This owes itself to 2000 odd abortions which happen illegally all over the country daily. Our people are of the opinion that only sons can provide income for the family. The system of dowry is still prevalent in some parts of the country. All these reasons have their roots in cultural beliefs of families and if female infanticide is to be stopped, then these beliefs have got to be challenged.
In countries with a history of female infanticide, the modern practice of sex-selective abortion is often discussed as a closely related issue. In several nations such as China, India and Pakistan, female infanticide remains to be a major cause of concern. It has been argued that the “low status” in which women are viewed in patriarchal societies creates a bias against females. The practice of female infanticide is found dominant among the indigenous peoples of Australia, Northern Alaska and South Asia, which seems to be “almost universal”, even in the West.
In 1990, Amartya Sen writes in the New York Review of Books estimated that there were 100 million fewer women in Asia that would be expected and that this amount of “missing” women “tells us, quietly, a terrible story of inequality and neglect leading to the excess mortality of women.” Initially, the Sen’s suggestion of gender bias was contested and it was suggested that hepatitis B was the cause of the alteration in the natural sex ratio.
The numerical worldwide deficit in women is widely accepted due to gender-specific abortions, infanticide and neglect. Before Islamic culture became established in Arabic country in the seventh-century, female infanticide was widely practised. According to scholars, the fact was attributed that women were deemed “property” within those societies. Some speculated that some women wanted to prevent their daughters from a life of misery, and thus would kill the child. But with the introduction of Islamic rule, the practice was made illegal.
In India, dowry system is one given reason for female infanticide; over a time period spanning centuries, it has become embedded within Indian culture. Although, there are several steps taken to abolish the dowry system but the practice still persists. For the rural families, female infanticide and gender-selective abortion are attributed to the fear of being unable to raise a suitable dowry and then being socially boycotted.
In 1789, during the time of British colonial rule in India, the Britishers discovered that female infanticide in Uttar Pradesh was openly acknowledged. A study by the scholars shows that the majority of female infanticides in India during the colonial period occurred for the most part in the North West. However, not all the groups were involved in this practice it was widespread. It was only after a thorough investigation by the colonial authorities in 1870 that the practice was made illegal.
Some age-old practices seem to be deeply rooted in the Indian culture and making India undergoing a type of “female genocide”. As per one of the reports of the United Nations, India stands out to be the most deadly country for female children, and that in 2012 female children aged between 1 and 5 were 75 percent more likely to die as opposed to boys. One of the children’s rights group called CRY has acknowledged that of 12 million females born yearly in India 1 million will have died within their first year of life. According to the United Nations, there could be a possibility of such a severe crisis that less number of females will lead to a sharp increase in sexual violence. A consequence of this will be a complete deterioration of social values. This practice of deselecting females is mainly due to factors like religion, economic factors and socio-cultural factors.
The economic factor arises from the belief that sons will provide economic stability to the family by earning wages, providing farm labour for family business and support parents during old age. People tend to think that after marriage, a son brings a female addition to the family who provides help in household work as well as dowry payment brings some sort of an economic advantage.
Coming to the socio-cultural factor, it is believed that having at least one male child is essential to continue the familial line and the respect of a family in the society is proportional to the number of male children in it. According to a certain Hindu tradition, only sons are permitted perform the funeral of their parents which assists in the attainment of salvation for the deceased.
The government has initiated a lot of programmes to bring about a change in the attitude of people and stop these kinds of social evils by introducing various laws, schemes and acts which favour the education of the girl-child, equal rights and equal property share. In spite of all these steps taken, there is much left to be desired.
In China and India alone, an estimated 2,000,000 baby girls go “missing” each year. They are selectively aborted, killed as newborns, or abandoned and left to die. Other countries with similar cultural traditions, who have also faced this problem are South Korea and Nepal. The root causes of female infanticide are similar but not exactly the same in Confucian countries like China and South Korea, versus predominantly Hindu countries such as India and Nepal.