Is “Equality” the True Solution?
By “Awake!” correspondent in Mexico
“EQUALITY between women and men means equality in their dignity and worth as human beings as well as equality in their rights, opportunities and responsibilities.” Could such “equality” be a significant factor in solving world problems?
“Yes,” answered delegates of a unique “World Conference” held in the summer of 1975. The statement quoted above is part of a resolution entitled “World Plan of Action’’ adopted at this conference. What type of gathering was it? Would the suggested equality of men and women effect real improvement in world conditions?
Sponsored by the United Nations, the meeting, held here in Mexico City, was called “World Conference of the International Women’s Year.” Delegations of both men and women from 120 countries attended. They discussed ways in which women have suffered hardships, and they made suggestions for improvements.
Ambitious Goals Set
The conference fixed major goals, many of them praiseworthy. Among hoped-for achievements to be attained within five years were: Equal opportunity for women, especially those in rural areas, to get an education; reduction of unemployment among women and avoidance of partiality toward men in filling jobs; better orientation of women in matters of health; fuller participation of women in politics.
Efforts were made at the conference to underscore women’s rights “to work, to receive equal pay for work of equal value,” and to participate more fully in affairs of the community. To achieve this, men were urged to become more active in domestic duties, which would allow women greater freedom for other pursuits. Illiteracy among women came in for serious discussion at the World Conference. Dr. Carmen Llorca of the Spanish delegation noted that, according to one calculation, there are “more than 700 million illiterate women at present in the world, which panorama offers the most serious problem for the liberation of women.”
Another concern was prostitution. One committee urged ‘governments of countries where the practice of prostitution and exploitation of women and young girls still exists to take energetic action to put an end to forced prostitution and the traffic in women, both of which are forms of exploitation, not confining themselves to repressive measures but instituting measures to promote the rehabilitation of prostitutes.’
Expectations for this conference ran high. Many of the women in attendance were both highly qualified and sincerely interested in bettering the lot of other women, regardless of race, nationality or language. Hope was expressed that basic problems affecting women could be solved in ten years. It was felt that this, in turn, would reduce world problems in general.
Among its accomplishments, the World Conference adopted twenty-nine resolutions, many of which favored improvement of women’s life at home, in the community and throughout the world. However, certain aspects of the conference cast serious doubt upon whether the sought-after equality would bring lasting benefits to mankind or not. How so?
Some Disappointing Aspects
To the chagrin of many in attendance, political rivalry permeated discussions at the World Conference. There was much debate about the Arab-Israeli conflict. The extent of ill feeling could be seen when, as a certain speaker began her address, members of other delegations got up and left the conference room.
Paradoxically, some economically distressed women found it necessary to demonstrate outside the meeting place. Though they had something to say, the Conference paid no attention to them, and this at a meeting advocating equality for women.
Some of the proposals, too, left much to be desired. There were, for example, requests made in favor of free sex, lesbianism, consensual relationships, “single parent” families and legalizing of abortions. Also proposed was the setting up of nurseries to care for children while mothers devoted their time to work. But could depriving children of the vital everyday association with their mothers result in any good? Rather than solving problems, suggestions such as these would only make matters worse.
“The World . . . Would Change Very Little”
It is true that women throughout the world have suffered considerable oppression and discrimination. But would the kind of equality suggested at the World Conference here in Mexico solve such injustices? There is strong reason to doubt that it would. Why?
Because selfishness, greed, lust for power and other things that cause deplorable world conditions are as much a part of women as of men. Since all humans are imperfect, merely juggling certain responsibilities from one segment (the males) to another (the females) would produce no real improvement. This is evident from comments of a woman in the United States who was once deeply involved in “women’s liberation”:
“The ideals of women’s liberation seemed to me to be beautiful in theory, yet they were not working in practice. For example, sisterhood—one of our most cherished concepts—broke down as soon as women began to taste power. The theory had not taken into account human selfishness. I witnessed several bitter power struggles in women’s groups, with women stabbing each other in the back as bloodthirstily as any man I ever saw.”
With clear insight, the wife of Egypt’s president stated at this 1975 World Conference: “in reality, woman in power is not very different from man. And the world would not change or would change very little if the woman ruled.”
Since both men and women are equally imperfect, all types of human government, even female monarchies, have failed to solve world problems. (Jer. 10:23) The only true solution, therefore, is in God’s arrangements for eliminating human imperfection and replacing human rule of the earth by a perfect heavenly administration. (Dan. 2:44; Isa. 33:24) Would you like to know more about these divine arrangements? Jehovah’s Witnesses will be happy to conduct a free Bible study with you in your home or at any other convenient place to aid you to learn of that injustice-free rule.