University of Central Florida
SOW 3203 0002 – Social Work & Community Resources
Fall 2012 - Monday 6:30-9:20
This paper explores human rights issues as it relates to women; the right to work; the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to be treated equally, the right to autonomy, and the violations of basic human rights. I will reflect on how the issue of equality for women is addressed nationally and globally. In discussing human rights related to women’s issues of social injustice by industrial and global exploitation, I explore ways in which social workers commit to equality and what current attitudes may need to be refined. I discuss how global exploitation continues to oppress and stigmatize females. This paper also examines barriers to change and how empowering women can raise their understanding of human rights and the process of change.
In July of 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, based on the Declaration of Independence statement on equal rights for all, The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions demanded the equality of men and women in several issues including the right to vote (Stanton & Anthony, 1997). This proposed resolution stated, “The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her” (Stanton, 1889). Thus, in the United States, the plight began for equal rights for women in a male dominated world. Considering the period of time human beings have inhabited this planet, the concept of equality of the human sexes is a rather new prospect. Men are generally physically stronger than women and have exploited this for centuries influencing societies, religions and traditions. They have created for themselves arenas which are beneficial and convenient for them however abusive and oppressive for women. In many countries, including our own, religion and tradition are often used as justification for not implementing equal rights. According to UNICEF, working women globally not only earn significantly less than men, they own far less property and still maintain the majority (80%) of household work (UNICEF, 2007). Biases in property law and inheritances also make women (and children by virtue of being born to women) more vulnerable to poverty. Historically, and in some countries currently, violence against women was/is generally acceptable and at times, considered necessary (i.e. honor killings). So how do we advocate for change from centuries of oppression and discrimination towards women?
Ending discrimination in all forms and advocating for social justice is the concrete foundation and commitment of the Social Worker. The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics states “Social Workers should act to expand choice and opportunity for all people, with special regard for vulnerable, disadvantaged, oppressed, and exploited people and groups (NASW, 2000, 6.04b). Social work practices, policies, and services must continue to address the disadvantages women and girls face. Advocacy for equal education, health care, employment, protection from violence, and rise from poverty for women is essential.
According to NASW ethical principles, Social Workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of a person and are consistently proactive in helping people in need and advocating for social justice. In 1945 in its preamble, the United Nations and the peoples therein declared their commitment to “fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small” (United Nations, n.d.), solidifying their commitment toward equal rights for women. Social Workers and the nations representing the world have sworn their allegiance to ensuring impartiality between the sexes. But how far have we come in...