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The Rise of Gender Inequalities in Southeast Asia

Color photograph of Asian women with a hat and very large earrings. from: PWCD - Gender in Southeast Asia


Written by: Cena Nguyen

Even though each culture is unique, one thing Southeast Asia shares in common with the other countries is its perception of gender. It’s been eons since the notion of male superiority – and the idea that female fertility makes women more suitable to stay home and look after the family – was engraved so deeply in the minds of the people…

Agricultural land is concentrated in the hands of a small crop of dynasties, corporations, and foreign plantations… – New Socialist
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Men were responsible for going out there to earn a living and support the family. Social development and its roles for each gender – are given importance according to a hierarchy of values, positioning women as inferior. Thus the manifesting stereotypes contribute to perpetuating inequality between men and women.

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Consequences of gender inequalities 

Most feudal women suffered from domestic violence and mental abuse and often did not have a voice to fight these injustices. Unfortunately, these absurd things are still going on in some countries in Southeast Asia. Women in remote areas of these countries continue to live with authoritarian customs such as forced marriage or marrying underage, which causes a severe impact on their health. Specifically – underage marriage, in other aspects, is a huge violation of female child abuse. Furthermore, by forcing them to marry, these children are deprived of their right to an adequate education and their right to happiness. According to some experts, the consequence of this long history of gender inequality has resulted in the rejection of female intellect and the misconception that husbands or boyfriends have the right to make decisions, leading to toxic manipulation in relationships. Domestic violence problems are frequent and continue to increase, especially within the rural areas of these countries. However, half of the women who suffer from husband violence never tell anyone. 90.4% of these women who’ve experienced physical or sexual violence by their husbands do not seek any support from government agencies.

How to fix this? 

What we should focus on is the propaganda – and as we educate to raise awareness of gender and gender equality. It may also be necessary to conduct a synchronous coordination between three environments: school, family, and society – the main sources of gender stereotypes. The message must be delivered that the biological differences between the sexes are almost completely unrelated to what women could potentially accomplish in the world. Therefore, both deserve the opportunity to assume equal roles in molding society. Feminist ideals need to be spread widely on social networking sites to help people eliminate their misconceptions of gender roles. By doing this, we can also acknowledge women who currently suffer from injustices and while creating a place to reach out to for help as they each have the right to enjoy their lives happily.

“If you were to ask someone in South Sulawesi how they imagine their world came to be, you would probably be told a narrative in which the bissu play a central role.” – Atlas Obscura

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Last but not least, it doesn’t matter what gender you are. Each of us can fight for women’s rights and help eliminate sexism. Let’s join hands for a better world, where everyone has the right to enjoy the most beautiful life.

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