A few historical perspectives on women’s rights

The status of women in society is neither a new issue nor a fully settled one. Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle ultimately argued about women and their place in society, home, and their relationship with politics. But then again, men and women are different. Ideal society did not exist in Aristotle’s thoughts. Plato however, tried to reconcile society in his utopian state, and wanted there to be work for both men and women. Nevertheless this has never been implemented. A woman’s place in Greek society was essentially based on the family unit. It is essential to note that there were significant differences between Athens and Sparta. In Athens, although women enjoyed posh property, they were only asked to take care of the house and the children. But what about their vital rights? While in Sparta women were more eligible, their children were fighters compared to those from Athens.

In India, many laws were related to family matter. Women were only seen important as a vital part of the family. However, they did not stand out in social, political and economical matters. The status of women did not differ much from country to country or from one religion to another, although the latter had greater differences.

Nowadays people think that women only became ‘free’ in the West. A common misconception is that the release of women as a social movement only began in the 20th century. This particular movement for the liberation of women was not started by women but was revealed by God through His Messenger Muhammad in the 7th century. Muslim women do have their essential rights on every level of society. Back in the 7th century, Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared that the pursuit of knowledge is obligatory to every Muslim, male and female. For instance, one of the oldest running universities, the University of Qarawiyyin, was founded by a woman named Fatima al-Fihri. In the same century however, women were deprived of inheritance and were considered property to be inherited by men. Islam gave women the right to own property and inherit from relatives, which was a revolutionary concept in the seventh century.

But today, these rights are still denied to Muslim women. There are still some obstacles to equalise men and women, especially in patriarchal systems. But in conclusion, women should be treated equally and honoured with a dignified stature in society.

Written by Marigone Vrajolli

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Marigonë Vrajolli studies at the University of Prishtina , at the Department of Political Science. She is part of many non-governmental organizations such as: Kosovo Women's Networks and Youth Women's Empowerment Initiative.