Gender Perspectives: The Key to Understanding Equality and Justice

By Fooladi, Marjaneh; Dohi, Itsuko et al. | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Gender Perspectives: The Key to Understanding Equality and Justice


Fooladi, Marjaneh, Dohi, Itsuko, Shoin, Kobe, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Gendered Equality and Justice

Since the modern approach has offered minimal solution to the current social problems involving women and the recent literature seem devoid of cultural competence, we may examine and retrieve the old wisdom of moral development with hope to find a solution for today's human suffering. Here, author will explore theoretical viewpoints by Crain, Erikson, Gilligan and Kohlberg and others to increase our gendered understanding of equality and justice. We will highlight globe perspectives on the human need for social interaction and emphasize cultural interpretation of human desire for justice, fairness and compassion.

Nearly a half century ago (Erikson 1964) identified gender variations in conceptual understanding of equality and justice and later, (Gilligan 1993) echoed this sentiment by sharing vast differences in men and women's views of equality, justice, fairness, assuming responsibility to care for others, maintaining a harmonious relationship, avoiding conflicts, negotiating and compromising. The past theories of human development help to successfully examine and revise public policies aimed to benefit men and women around the globe. No public policy should be written without first exploring the essential ingredients such as cultural value systems and public perceptions of the policies. Most importantly, recognition and understanding of gender role construct must be considered before crossing any of the cultural lines in an effort to help improve justice and equality within that culture. In every society public policies are designed and written to reflect a masculine interpretation of the laws. Few countries around the globe have developed social policies by considering feminine perspectives and life experiences. The authors will attempt to highlight the social problem and convey where some solution may be found.

Women's Perceptions on Gender Equality

To no one's surprise, historically women have perceived violence rooted in inequality and the desire to dominate, while men have considered violence as "the necessary evil" to defend "what is theirs". However, today, the gender gap is closing as more women are in agreement with the male version of equality and justice and by majority have chosen to remain silent, join forces and train with men to defend "what is theirs". Hence, our discussion on women's struggle for equality and justice continues. And the select few good intentioned women who have tried to awaken our consciousness in favor of global equality and justice are often driven by career responsibilities, upward mobility, pending tenure, getting published and less informed about gender culture and social constructs leading to misfortune for women.

(Gilligan, 1993) In a Different Voice asks who are the men and women in favor of equality and justice for all. For centuries men have been blamed for many of social ills and now, author asks who has silenced the women's voices? Isn't true that women, especially the empowered and educated Western women have chosen their own silence? And if men are to be blamed for the women's suffering and social inequalities, shouldn't women carry some burden of the responsibility as they are a major player in raising the family and nurturing sons who potentially grow up to become brutal men? In fact, (Vaillant 1977) disagreed with Erikson's view and wrote how irresponsible mother are when they love their children until the age 2 and quickly despair about taking their nurturing any further. He criticized mothers and wrote the responsibility for raising children is different from growing crops.

Does equality and justice begin at home and do women play a major role in showing their children what is fair? Should women take a closer look and see how boys and girls are treated unfairly at home? Are we teaching parents to be gender neutral at home? We read about girls cleaning house and boys doing home work.

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