Recognizing the Contributions of Women Travel Writers
Happy International Women’s Day to all you female travelers out there! There is nothing like being abroad to gain perspective. This is true for any topic: feminism and gender equality not least of all. International Women’s Day and other global initiatives like it seek to promote solidarity in the mission of reducing the gender gap around the world. This mission takes many forms, all of which are equally important but not all of which are given proper recognition. So, for my first post on Pink Pangea, I’d like to begin by thanking you. All of you who are writing for other women or reading about other women are just as deserving of praise as the politicians, figureheads, researchers, and professors who have also made gender equality a priority.
Women travelers, especially those who write about their experiences, are in a unique position in this mission to promote equality. Yes, we need the politicians and celebrities to draw massive attention to such topics, and we need social scientists to observe, problematize, and hypothesize–but we also need lived experience, opinion, and communication. And in this, women travel writers are in a unique position. We don’t just read about women’s challenges around the world; we see them with our own eyes–perhaps we also experience them ourselves. We meet women from other backgrounds and cultures, and we share their stories and ours with people back home.
We don’t just read about women’s challenges around the world; we see them with our own eyes–perhaps we also experience them ourselves.
Solidarity is a word that often comes up in a discussion of the global women’s movement. It’s a necessary ingredient in the fight against inequality–we are consistently reminded of that–but how is it accomplished and what does it mean? The answer will be different depending on who you ask; but for me, solidarity comes from meeting people from different walks of life, who face different obstacles, and realizing that you both have the same end goal in mind. In other words, it’s sameness through difference.
Gender inequality isn’t just lesser pay; it’s also unequal representation in government, the need for quota systems, etc. Gender inequality isn’t only a woman in a burqa/niqab/hijab; it’s also a woman who thinks that in order to be sexy, beautiful, and attractive she has to dress in revealing ways, cover her face with makeup, consider plastic surgery. Traveling is a way of expanding, changing, and problematizing our assumptions about gender inequality, just as it is for challenging our cultural norms, beliefs, and general worldview. So, kudos to you women travelers. You are making the discussion about global gender equality pertinent and accessible to so many.
So now, in the spirit of fostering solidarity and understanding, let me tell you about the things that I’m hearing and seeing while abroad. I’ve been living in Amman for about two months. This is my third time in Amman. I first came to study Arabic, then on a class trip, and now to work. With blond hair and green eyes, I am undoubtedly “ajnabia” (a foreigner). I experience my own set of issues being abroad, which I will be more than happy to tell you about later. For now, I want to tell you about some things that Jordanian women are experiencing:
1) Jordanian women are unable to pass on citizenship to their children. If a Jordanian woman marries a non-Jordanian and gives birth, that child does not have Jordanian citizenship. A Jordanian woman is also unable to pass on citizenship to her spouse. In a country that is home to many Palestinian, Iraqi, and Syrian refugees, as well as international workers, this is a huge problem.
2) Widows cannot benefit from their husbands’ pensions. The family of a deceased woman is also unable to benefit from the woman’s full pension.
3) Divorced Muslim women often have trouble receiving their full financial rights from their ex-husbands. Currently, there is no law to legally bind an ex-husband to provide alimony, even though such practices are stipulated in Islam.
4) If a man rapes a woman, prosecution and punishment can be halted or shortened if he marries his victim and pledges to remain married for at least five years.
5) Out of 150 MPs in the Lower House of Parliament, only 18 are women. Fifteen of these 18 were elected by quota, one through a party ticket, and two through direct competition. Women activists are seeking to raise the quota from 25% to 30%.