Why do countries that fail women fail?
After the United States and its allies overthrew the Taliban in 2001, primary school enrolment among Afghan females increased from 0% to more than 80%. Infant mortality has been cut in half.
Forced marriage has been declared unlawful. Many of the schools were shaky, and many families disobeyed the rule. But no one really disputes that Afghan women and girls have achieved significant progress in the last 20 years, or that those achievements are now under threat.
According to the State Department, the United States is “committed to promoting gender equality” via its foreign policy. Giving billions of dollars in weapons and a medium-sized nation to a bunch of violent misogynists is an unusual way to demonstrate it.
Foreign policy, of course, entails tough trade-offs (see Leader). But there is mounting evidence that Hillary Clinton was correct when she said a decade ago that “women’s subordination is…a danger to the common security of our world.”
Women-oppressed societies are much more prone to be violent and unstable (see International section).
There may be many causes for this. Girls are selectively terminated or tragically neglected in numerous areas. As a result, lopsided sex ratios have resulted, and millions of young men are destined to stay unmarried.
Young males who are dissatisfied are more prone to conduct violent crimes or join rebel organizations. Recruiters for Boko Haram and the Islamic State are aware of this and offer them “wives” as war prizes.
Polygamy also results in an overabundance of single young males. For those at the top, many marriages imply gloomy bachelorhood for those at the bottom.
have complicated causes
However, it is possible that the fact that Kashmir has one of the most imbalanced sex ratios in India, or that all 20 of the most volatile nations on the Fragile States index published by the Fund for Peace in Washington practice polygamy, is no accident.
In Guinea, where a coup occurred on September 5th, 42 percent of married women aged 15 to 49 are in polygamous relationships. China’s police state maintains a lid on its many excess males, but its neighbors worry whether their rage will ever find an outlet.
Outside of wealthy democracies, the male family group remains the fundamental unit of many cultures. Such groupings arose primarily for self-defense: male relatives would band together to resist intruders. They mainly create problems nowadays. Clan feuds spill blood throughout the Middle East and the Sahel. Tribes fight, sometimes violently, for control of the state in order to distribute employment and plunder among their kin.
These governments become corrupt and dysfunctional, alienating people and bolstering support for jihadists who promise more fair governance.
Male-bonding societies tend to oppress women. Fathers decide who their daughters marry. There is often a bride price—the family pays what may be substantial amounts to the bride’s relatives. This provides an incentive for dads to force their daughters to marry young. It is not a minor issue.
Dowries or bride prices are customary in more than half of the world’s nations. A fifth of the world’s young ladies married before the age of 18, and a tenth before the age of 1. Child brides are more likely to drop out of school, are less capable of defending themselves against violent husbands, and are less likely to have healthy, well-educated children.
Researchers from Texas A&M and Brigham Young universities created a global index of pre-modern attitudes toward women, including sexist family laws, unequal property rights, early marriage for girls, patrilocal marriage, polygamy, bride prices, son preference, violence against women, and legal indulgence of it (for example, can a rapist avoid punishment by marrying his victim?). It was shown to be strongly linked with a country’s violent instability.
This may teach us a number of things. Policymakers should examine geopolitics through the lens of sex in addition to their normal analytical tools. Had the indicator of sexist practices existed 20 years ago, it would have warned them about how difficult nation-building would be in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Today, it indicates that stability in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and even India cannot be taken for granted.
Women should be included in peace negotiations. Only 13% of peace agreement negotiators and 6% of peace deal signings were female between 1992 and 2019. However, when women are present at the table, peace tends to endure longer. This may be because they are more willing to compromise, or because a room without women suggests a shady deal between men with weapons with no involvement from non-combatants.
Liberia got it right and ended a heinous civil war; Afghanistan’s new leadership did not. Governments, in general, should mean it when they claim they wish to free half of mankind.
Educate females, many of whom have dropped out of school to work or married as a result of COVID-19’s devastation of their families. Enforce prohibitions on child marriage and female genital mutilation, even if it is difficult in rural communities.
Polygamy is not recognized. Equalize heirloom rights. Boys should be taught not to hit women. Introduce public pensions, which undercut the custom of couples living with the man’s parents since the elderly have no other means of support.
The majority of these are responsibilities for national governments, although outsiders may have an impact. Since Western funders began harping on the need of girls’ education, more girls have enrolled in school (primary enrolment has risen from 64 percent in 1970 to nearly 90 percent today).
Since 2000, anti-early marriage activists have persuaded more than 50 nations to increase the minimum marriage age.
Boys must learn about nonviolence through local mentors, but ideas for designing such programs are exchanged via a worldwide network of organizations and think tanks.
Donors such as USAID and the World Bank have done a good job of promoting women’s property rights, even if their efforts in Afghanistan are likely to go up in flames.
Foreign policy should not be naïve, according to the radical idea. Countries have important interests and must discourage adversaries. Geopolitics should not be seen exclusively through a feminist perspective, any more than economics or nuclear non-proliferation should be examined solely through a non-proliferation lens.
Policymakers who neglect to regard the interests of half of the people, on the other hand, cannot expect to comprehend the world.
Coiled from The Economist