*This is an excerpt from PKKK’s Rural Women Status Report on CEDAW 2011.
The Magna Carta of Women is framed in the context of CEDAW. It defines Gender and Development (GAD) as development perspective and process that are participatory and empowering, equitable, sustainable, free from violence, respectful of human rights, supportive of self determination and actualization of human potentials. It seeks to achieve gender equality as a fundamental value that should be reflected in development choices; seeks to transform society’s social, economic, and political structures and questions the validity of gender roles they ascribed to women and men; contends that women are active agents of development and not just passive recipients of development assistance; and stresses the need of women to organize themselves and participate in political processes to strengthen their legal rights.
There are several laws pro-actively promoting and protecting the rights of women. And yet, women’s important role and contribution in development and nation building are not yet fully recognized. Rural women are often treated at the sidelines. Their representation and participation in different local development councils and special bodies has been dismal. PKKK cited several factors contributing to gender inequality in governance and participation: (1) the traditional notion that women’s role is always in the house, still proliferates in rural communities; (2) women commonly exhibit low confidence and self-esteem because the society considered them inferior in terms of decision-making, or being discouraged and prevented by their husbands or fathers from joining organizations or any political undertaking; (3) lack of information on CEDAW, law on gender equality, programs, resources and services not only of rural women but also local government officials and policy implementers; (4) men still dominate in the elective positions and leadership structure; (5) women’s participation in local elections are often impeded by traditional politics and non-accreditation due to inconsistent processes/guidelines rigid requirements.