week 9 final project Analyze a Sociological Issue
week 9 final project Analyze a Sociological Issue
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Gender Stratification And Women in Developing Nations 1 Running head: GENDER STRATIFICATION AND WOMEN IN DEVELOPING NATIONS Gender Stratification and Women in Developing Nations Dawnette Dunkley University of Phoenix Sociology120 Instructor: Loren Butler Gender Stratification And Women in Developing Nations 2 Gender Stratification and Women in Developing Nations “Rwanda's economy has risen up from the genocide and prospered greatly on the backs of our women.” These are the words of Agnes Matilda Kalibata, Rwanda’s minister of agriculture. Kalibata is one of many Rwandan women who rose from the carnage of the Rwandan genocide to become shining examples of what empowered and resilient women can do for society. The 1994 genocide responsible for the systematic killing of 800,000 Tutsis and Moderate Hutus comes to mind whenever one thinks of the African country, Rwanda. The three main ethnic groups; Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa has had a long history of social differences. However, even with these strained relationships, especially between Hutu and Tutsi, these ethnic groups manage to coexist in relative peace. Historians believe German and Belgian colonizers helped to incite violence along ethnic lines. The assassination of then president Habyalimana sparked one of the most intensive killing campaigns in human history, as extremist Hutus tried to annihilate the Tutsi tribe. Though women and young girls were victims of these killings, in addition to rapes, and mutilations; the Hutu’s targeting and mass slaughtering of Tutsi and moderate Hutu males, made these killings both genocidal and gendercidal. Extremist Hutus murdered more than 70% of the Tutsi male population throughout Rwanda, and today the scars of this genocidegendercide are evident in Rwanda’s demographic imbalance. Sociologists believe demographic imbalance will continue to affect this country for generations. One profound effect is the seismic shift in power for women in every aspect of this country. The purpose of this paper is to provide an analysis of gender stratification as it relates to women in Rwanda; and it will also examine the implications of demographic imbalance in postgenocide Rwanda. Furthermore, it will provide Gender Stratification And Women in Developing Nations 3 information about the current roles women play in Rwanda’s economic, political, and social development in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. To appreciate the current state of Rwanda and the emergence of empowered women in this society; one has to understand its history and the cumulative factors that played significant roles in the ensuing 1994 genocide of 800,000 Tutsis and Moderate Hutus. About 85% of the Rwandan population consists of the Hutu tribe, 14% is Tutsi, and one percent is Twa (Pigmy) tribe. The Twa are indigenous to Rwanda and unlike the more powerful Hutu and Tutsi; they had less direct involvement in the power struggles. Twa tribe is racially the same as Hutu and Tutsi and they primarily made their living from forestry; however, years of deforestation and subjugation from other groups served to separate them from main stream society. Rwandan society essentially installed them as the lowest caste in Rwandan society after the Hutu and Tutsi moved into that region as well as after subsequent colonization by Germany and Belgium. Traditionally, Hutu were agriculturists and Tutsi were cattle herders. Racially, both Hutus and Tutsis are the same but the differences in features set them apart. The Hutu are stocky and short with rounded face, flat nose, and dark skin. Tutsi, on the other hand, are much taller, lighter skin tone with ovalshaped face and straighter nose. The Tutsis’ physical appearance led many to believe they are of Ethiopian descent (History, 2010). The Rwandan society is traditionally patriarchal with men typically in more powerful positions than women. Although men and women share the workload of agricultural work; men would only clear the fields, leaving the daytoday agricultural activities for the women such as breaking the grounds, weeding, planting, and harvesting. Men’s responsibilities primarily involve overseeing livestock with the assistance of younger men in the community. Though Gender Stratification And Women in Developing Nations 4 women usually involve in market trading; males mainly dominate employment outside the home; with women relegated to maintaining the home, preparing food, and raising children. The most basic social institution in this society is marriage; and the Rwandan people view bearing children as a sign of wealth and power. For these reasons, women are under constant pressure to marry and have children. With regard to the relative status of Rwandan men and women, to a certain extent, women enjoyed a modicum of economic and political power; however, men held most of the more powerful public authority positions. Colonizers managed to erode and diminish the role women played in politics during the colonial era (History, 2010). The Twa tribe faced segregation and discrimination from both Hutu and Tutsi; they placed the Twa tribe at the bottom of the social hierarchy and neither the Hutu nor the Tutsi would allow intermarriages with the Twa; however, intermarriages occur between Hutu and Tutsi. Many years of diverse economic and political relation in addition to frequent intermarriages between these two ethnic groups managed to blur the line that distinguishes Tutsi from Hutu. Before the colonization of Rwanda, differences in social status between these groups held more importance than ethnic differences (History, 2010). However, during the colonial era, both Germany and Belgium operated under the concept of indirect rule that sought to run colonies through existing structures of power. These colonizers worked under the misguided theory that power in Rwanda could be organized along ethnic lines. So for political gain, the ruling Belgian regime placed emphasis on ethnic distinction by issuing identity cards, forcing people to identify with one of the three ethnic groups. Belgian colonizer viewed the Tutsi minority as natural leaders, instituting policies that polarized the two groups, subjugating the majority Hutu and favoring the minority Tutsi. Many sociologists and historians Gender Stratification And Women in Developing Nations 5 would concur that these policies by the Belgians marked the culmination of violence among ethnic lines, and consequently, set into motion atrocities that would rival that of the holocaust (History, 2010). The groundtoair missile that brought down plane of Rwandan president, Juvenal Habyalimana, killing him, was the first salvo that started the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Subsequently, Hutu blamed the assassination of Habyalimana on Tutsi rebels, launching the massacre of 800,000 people. To discuss the Rwandan genocide, one simply cannot ignore one of its key elements, the systematic targeting of male members of the Tutsi tribe by Hutu extremists. This factor led many to believe that this action by the Hutus was not only genocidal it was indeed gendercidal (Jones, 2002). Hutu extremists would round up systematically, male members of the Tutsi tribe and killed them in large numbers; Hutu extremist would also force Tutsi men to watch as they rape the women and girls in the community. The small percentage of male Tutsi who survived, did so by fleeing to neighboring countries like Congo and Zaire. Throughout the carnage of this genocidegendercide, the victimization of Tutsi women through rape and mutilation at the hands of extremist Hutu was astounding. Bijleveld, Morssinkhof, & Smeulers (2009) held that, rape was a deliberate attempt used by Hutu to destroy the Tutsi community. Neugebauer, Fisher, Turner, Yamabe, & Sarsfield (2009) report that, mutilations such as arm and leg amputation with machetes was so prevalent; many of the Tutsi population would hide under dead bodies to avoid becoming victims of rape or murder. Neugebauer et al (2009) further state that, immediately after the end of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, majority of the Rwandan population suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially among women who witnessed the murders of their husbands and children. Gender Stratification And Women in Developing Nations 6 Widowed by the genocide with no husband for protection, women also suffer the social stigma of rape. Compounding this problem is the more than 2000 children who happen to be products of rape from the genocide (Elizabeth, 1997). These children, called devil’s children are considered Hutu despite the Tutsi ethnicity of their mothers. Elizabeth (1997) reports that, incidence of child abandonment and infanticides are extremely common among rape victims. Despite the stigma of rape and endurance of countless mutilations, the large proportion of male population who had been killed in the genocide seems to carry even more longlasting repercussions in Rwanda. One such repercussion is the extreme demographic imbalance, as women outnumber men, making up 80% and men a mere 20% of the Rwandan population (History, 2010). One of the most profound effect of demographic imbalance is the increase in polygamy, which was not legal before the genocide. Polygamy is currently used as a solution for the large proportion of young women and widows who do not have enough men available for the prospect of marriage. Arising from this are the issues of mensharing and husbandhiring, practices largely responsible for high rates of HIV/AIDS cases in Rwanda (History, 2010). The physical and psychological status of these women in postgenocide Rwanda became significant in the survival of their country because to a large extent, these widows and rape victims essentially became the main breadwinners. Rwandan women realized very quickly that it was on their backs rest the responsibility of rebuilding the country. Today, Rwandan women are at the forefront of their countries’ economic, social, and political development. Rwanda stands as a shining example for other developing countries; and it demonstrates how empowered women can revolutionize fundamentally economies decimated by crises or conflicts as they fight to break cycles of poverty. No longer just relegated to domestic roles; these women found Gender Stratification And Women in Developing Nations 7 opportunities in fertile lands that ordinarily their slaughtered husbands, brothers, and fathers would inherit before the genocide. As the surviving Rwandan population sought to rebuild; technical and financial aid from the international community allows entrepreneurialism to spread among women. Women are the driving force of Rwandan economy, investing in industries from agribusinesses to tourism. Although both men and women invest in small businesses, research reveal that women made better investors, showing more willingness to learn about modern technologies and techniques designed to improve profit and the quality of product such as coffee. Rwandan women are more likely than men to invest their profits on improving family, providing education for their children, improving nutrition, renovating homes, and increasing savings rates (Scholer, Domeisen, & Hulm 2007). Urbanization also affects this small African nation, with a large proportion of Rwandan population living in the cities. Women’s influence on the Rwandan economy and the country in general can be seen everywhere. Today, it is not uncommon to find women working in factories, working on construction sites, and even driving taxi cabs. Though many of the old entrenched, patriarchal attitudes still exist; today, 55% of Rwandan government consists of women. This feat was achieved through a type of social engineering by current president Kagame, who many viewed as using ambitious policies design to help women both politically and economically. These constitutional policies require that at least 30% of all cabinet and parliament seats should go automatically to women, the remaining seats are left open for regular elections. From this development, Rwandan government became the first in the world, with females as the majority, claiming 56% of government seats. Women hold positions as Supreme Court Chief, Gender Stratification And Women in Developing Nations 8 education minister, foreign minister, police commissioner general, and even the speaker of the house. These women use their newfound acquired status to push for change in social policies that affects women negatively for thousands of years in efforts to improve gender equality. These women managed to change many archaic, patriarchal, and discriminatory laws; they passed legislation that makes domestic violence and child abuse unlawful, and abolished the law that requires a husband’s signature on bank loans. Additionally, they have enacted policies that will place more focus on education, population control, HIV/AIDS, and contraceptive campaigns. Conclusion Difficult to comprehend how so many atrocities could occur in such a short period; while the world slept, Rwanda lost 800,000 of its population in about 100 days. The scourge of the 1994 Rwandan genocide was indeed a crime against humanity; and like the holocaust, the world must stand up and say, never again. What happened in Rwanda serves to emphasize that segregation, discrimination or subjugation of any particular group in society is simply unacceptable. Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie’s 1963 speech to the United Nation rings true when he spoke about worldpeace that, until the philosophy that holds one group inferior than another, is finally and permanently, discredited, and abandon—then there will be no peace. Most postconflict countries would simply buckle under major crises or conflicts; sadly, out of this devastation rise women who for some, saw opportunities that allowed them some semblance of equality for the first time. Rwandan women demonstrate to other women in developing countries that given the opportunities, females are just as capable as their male counterparts. Moreover, these women prove that acquiring a voice, allows them to influence policies and legislations that affect their welfare. These policies not only benefit women, they also make family, local communities, and Gender Stratification And Women in Developing Nations 9 society stronger as well as more productive. Rwanda is a long way from complete recovery; however, this seismic shift in gender roles and status in postgenocide Rwanda alters forever the way today’s generation of boys view their mothers and sisters and offers profound lesson for other developing countries that have difficulty rebuilding from the devastation of conflict. References Bijleveld, C., Morssinkhof, A., & Smeulers, A. (2009). Rape Victimization During the Rwandan Genocide. International Criminal Justice Review (Sage Publications), 19(2), 208224. Retrieved July 5, 2010, from International Security & Counter Terrorism Reference Center database. Elizabeth, R. (1997). The Outcasts. New York Times Magazine, 37. Retrieved July 3, 2010, from Academic Search Complete database. History. (2010). Rwanda Country Review, 68. Retrieved July 2, 2010, from Business Source Complete database. Jones, A. (2002). Problems of Genocide–Gendercide Studies and Future Agendas: a Comparative Approach. Journal of Genocide Research, 4(1), 127135. doi:10.1080/14623520120113937 Neugebauer, R., Fisher, P., Turner, J., Yamabe, S., Sarsfield, J., & StehlingAriza, T. (2009). PostTraumatic Stress Reactions Among Rwandan Children and Adolescents in the Early Aftermath of Genocide. International Journal Of Epidemiology, 38(4), 10331045. Gender Stratification And Women in Developing Nations 10 Retrieved July 2, 2010, from MEDLINE with Full Text database. Scholer, M., Domeisen, N., & Hulm, P. (2007). Rwandan Coffee Goes from Ordinary to Star(bucks). International Trade Forum, (1), 23. Retrieved July 3, 2010, from MasterFILE Premier database. .
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