Monday, August 20, 2007

Women a key to better health

isle of women
Iran is planning a bizarre holiday resort: An island for women only. As the strict codes of Iran prohibit exposure of unveiled women, the planned resort is expected to become very attractive, a paradise for female tourists. Men will not be allowed on the island.

Sexual apartheid is one of the main reasons for the big gap between poor and rich countries in the world, according to David S. Landes, Harvard professor of economics and author of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. In an interview to Challenge magazine, back in 1998, he has put it as follows:

«The Middle East, particularly the Muslim Middle East, is in great trouble. Cultural attitudes there are a barrier to development. I stress relations between men and women and the sexual discrimination that results; obviously, this is not saying anything new. When you treat women as a source of danger or pollution to be cut off from the public space and limited in permissible economic activities, you lose a large portion of the potential productivity of the society. But where I say something new is that I stress the implications of these relations for the men. A system that privileges the men from birth on, simply because they are male and that gives them power over their sisters and the other female members of society, is bad for the men. It builds in them a sense of entitlement that discourages what it takes to improve, to advance, and to achieve. One has to understand that this is not something limited to the Arab Middle East, or to the Muslim Middle East. It is found in different degrees all around the world, and even those of us who live in so-called advanced industrial societies are guilty of the same thing. And we are still struggling against it and trying to define the meaning.» (Source: findarticles.com)
Why is this a health issue? Because economy is a major health factor and the worldwide map of health disparities fits pretty well the map of economic disparities.

And why is this an issue for us who live in so-called advanced industrial societies? Because we, in our attitude to women, may be somewhat better than the ayatollahs (or the Vatican), but still far from a society with equal rights and values of women and men.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/synchronicity/398782125/

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