Discourse about social protection today is increasing the recognition. Of the importance of women's roles and positions in their societies. More and more people are starting to realize that the economic empowerment of women is essential. To the development of not only individuals and women, but of entire communities. Yet, many regions still do not give women the power or agency to establish a stable. And reliable source of income that would brand them the title of "empowered".
In order for women to advance and succeed economically, they first require the resources. And skills to be able to effectively compete in markets. Education for women can provide this, as it greatly broadens a young girl's horizons. By teaching her literacy, numeracy, and other important knowledge. Unfortunately, many developing nations still struggle to provide education for children in general. And when little education is available, society often opts for boys to be sent. Because of the fallacy that that boys have a better chance at a brighter future. The United Nations Educational, Scientific. And Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates. That more than 31 million school-age girls cannot attend school for reasons out of their control.1
Resources, or lack thereof, are an important issue for organizations promoting economic empowerment of women, but another prominent concern is inequitable social norms. Social standards, being an issue in developed as well as developing nations, can prove to be great barriers in welcoming women into the workforce. Stereotypes against women as doctors, lawyers, engineers and scientists are instilled in youth at a very young age, and can largely affect a young girl's choice regarding her education. Some countries, such as those located in the Middle East" take these tacit, gender- based rules even further with laws restricting women's basic rights such as the right to own property, to vote, to drive, or even to leave the house without permission from their husband.
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Investing in women's economic empowerment sets society on a direct path towards the eradication of not only gender inequality, but potentially poverty and economic standstill as well. But more often than not, disproportionate gender discrimination means that women end up with unstable, low-wage jobs and comprise a low number of senior, professional positions, especially in developing nations. This unfair bias against women limits their participation in shaping economic and social policies, thus further reducing the possibilities for them to thrive.
Starting in the late 18th century and continuing on throughout the 19th century, individual rights, as a concept, began to gain importance throughout the world with women's rights especially becoming a relevant point in political debates. "Coverture," a well known policy at the time, was a legal doctrine whereby the rights and obligations of woman, upon marriage, were subsumed by her husband. Dorothea von Velen, the mistress of one of Electoral Palatine's rulers and one of the earliest known advocates for women's economic rights, through her battles with the government, led to the abolition of "coverture" in Electoral Palatine in 1707.
This small change in law, in what is now a tiny German state, became a beacon for women's rights throughout Europe and helped fuel the fight for women's advancements. Coverture was still preserved in English common law for most of the 19th century, but was put under heavy criticism in the mid 1800s as many believed that it hindered women's ability to exercise ordinary property rights or enter the professions. This policy was, however, substantially altered in the late 19th century by the Married Women's Property Act', and it was eventually eliminated by subsequent amendments. Similar to coverture was the doctrine of marital power, under which the wife was legally under the usufructuary tutorship of her husband.
Under marital power, a married women was not able to leave a will, enter into a contract, sue or be sued under her own name, without her husband's permission. The husband also had the power to administer his wife's separate property and their community property. First abolished in 1928 by the Married Persons Property Act in Southern Rhodesia, the policy was abolished entirely through slow amendments from the 1930s through to the 1960s in Europe and in the 1980s in many colonized Asian countries. In South Africa, the policy was only completely abolished for all marriages in 2000. The legal abolition of the marital doctrine in many nations did not necessarily grant married women the same legal rights as their husbands, or even as unmarried women, but it was a huge step for women to be able to make their own economic and financial decisions.
The 19th century was a crucial time period for the advancement of women, as it was during this period that women began to challenge laws that denied them the right to property once they were married. Under the common law coverture, husbands had control over their wives' earnings and real estate. In Britain and the United States during the late 1840s, laws that protected women's wages and land from their husbands began to be passed. All of these laws were generally referred to as the Married Women's Property Acts. Courts in the United States during this period also put into practice privy examination, which a married woman had to undergo in order to sell her property. In this examination, the wife had to be separately examined by a judge or justice, without her husband, and was asked if she was being pressured into signing off the document by her husband or otherwise.
Equal Employment Rights
Hong Kong, under British rule in the 19th century, openly denied the rights of women and men to have equal pay and equal benefits for work up until the 1970s. Before this time, women did not have the right to be permanent employees, and their job status automatically changed from permanent to temporary when they were married, and thus they lost their pension benefits. Some women even lost their jobs when they were wedded. In addition, women could not work without the consent of their husbands until 1965 in Europe and until 1970 in Spain. Furthermore, many countries throughout the 18th and 19th century such as Australia, Ireland, Canada, and Switzerland, adopted "marriage employment bars" which limited married women from employment in select.
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