Buddhism and Gender: Through My Lens

Buddhism is considered as a philosophy not as a religion because it doesn’t belief in central creator. Buddhism focuses on the well-being of individuals to attain the absolute peace and never ending happiness, which they called “enlightenment”. An enlightened being is one who can live without suffering. Our judgment elicits emotions, misconceptions, expectations and anticipations about others. This all happens because of our ignorance. The Buddha says that, ignorance is root of every suffering. The main aim of Buddhist doctrine is to know what is ignorance, how to eliminate ignorance so that suffering will end and one will achieve the state of serenity and peace. According to Buddhism, to start the journey towards enlightenment the Buddhist philosophies and paths should be followed. Some basic teachings of Buddhism, to name to few, are the Four Noble Truths, the Four Seals of Dharma and the Five Aggregates. 
The Four Noble Truths are as follow, The Truth of suffering, The Truth of the Cause of Suffering, The Truth of the End of Suffering and the Truth of the Path leading to the End of Suffering. The Four Noble Truths are the first ever teachings Buddha gave to his fellows after achieving enlightenment. The first noble truth presents the pessimistic reality about life. It encourages humans to accept the truth that life is suffering: all the material possessions, all the luxuries, and all the comforts of this life are causes of suffering. The first truth opens our eyes and mind to see ongoing suffering in our daily life. The second truth: the truth of cause of suffering, says that the hunger, the ignorance, the attachment to others, the craving to have more and more are causes of suffering. The first and second truth are explaining and portraying the pessimistic reality of life, but it doesn’t mean that Buddhism is all about negative. The third truth tells us that it is possible to bring end to this suffering. One has to change the behaviors and the responses towards life and worldly things in order to reduce the suffering. It is important to know that continuously looking for something, the mass consumption and to have the comfort of life leads us to suffering. There is nothing outside which needs to be change in order to end the suffering.  It is all about changing the way we think and perceive things in our mind. If we will change the way we think and response to things then suffering will be end. The fourth truth is cessation of suffering. It teaches that nothing is permanent, accepting that change is possible, at any time anything even ourselves will change, therefore, not taking things for granted is the path to end the suffering. This path will lead us to the enlightenment: the absolute peace. So in a nutshell, the Four Noble Truths explain that suffering is there; the important thing is to accept it, understand it, know the cause of it, and come out of it. For example, hiding the pain will not help us to get relief. Once we will know the origin of pain and diagnose the cause of pain then we will able to have a treatment to get relief from the pain. 

The Four Seals of Dharma is very important Buddhist doctrine. Many Buddhist teachings are self-contradicting because different teachings are for different audiences in different times and contexts. Buddhist scholars claim that the Four Seals of Dharma are applicable for all kinds of audiences in any time period. The Four Seals of Dharma are as follows: everything is impermanent, all emotions are painful, everything is empty and selfless, and Nirvana is absolute peace. If we closely examine the world and the phenomenon around us we can see that everything is continuously changing. For example, the changes we encounter from birth to death. Nothing is permanent in this world; some things take less time and others take longer to change but everything is changing. The second seal, all emotions are painful because of attachment and craving. We enslave ourselves under unending floods of emotions and lose our freedom. We human beings are similar to caged birds. In South Asia birds are domesticate, mostly pigeons. Wild birds are caught and their wing feathers are cut so that they can’t fly and kept them in a cage for few weeks. Food and water is provided. After a few weeks, when birds are released, they don’t fly away even after having their feathers and freedom back. It is because now these birds are attached to this new environment. These birds suffer due to ignorance. When we were born we were also like these free birds. Then we were labeled by our family or society. The very first label given to us is gender/sex and then religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, creed, cast and so on. If we believe in the third seal of Dharma, emptiness; everything is empty of self. There is nothing like “I” and “You” we all are same and we all are impermanent. Then we will not suffer. The understanding of selflessness will lead us to Nirvana, the absolute peace. 

In the context of gender, the noble truths say that life is suffering, and labeling things and people into metaphysical groups such as gender is a cause of suffering. The cessation of this suffering is accepting selflessness. Hence, after accepting the selflessness people will not be egocentric and individuals will be directed towards the path of the end of suffering. Finally, individuals will be enlightened. 

The four seals of dharma say that all things are impermanent. For example, the human body or the gender associated with the physical appearance of an individual is all conditional; it is not based on any essence. It also says that all emotions are painful. Gender and the emotions associated with it cause pain. For instance, being a woman in a patriarchal society I am expected to behave differently than my brother. The label given to me from the society elicits certain emotions such as the pain of not able to enjoy my freedom fully, the pain of having limited access to resources, the pain of not able to make decisions for myself, the pain of taking orders from male counterparts in almost all day to day chores and so on. If we understand that everything is impermanent and all emotions are painful, then there will be no labeling like gender. There will be no associations and no expectations. Understanding first two seals will lessen ignorance and ego. There will be no identifications like self or gender. Subsequently, one will achieve or at least will be directed towards more-equitable gender attitudes.  

The human body is the form, and when we see any person we develop judgments like beauty, ugly, funny, kind, rude, male, female, etc. Along with other judgments the perception of gender varies across countries, cultures, and societies. Most of the times around the globe women are considered weak physically and mentally. This kind of behavior about woman becomes part of consciousness. Once any idea becomes part of the conscious mind, individuals tend to do this more frequently. The repeated actions become behaviors and when behaviors are not change on time they becomes need of people. In fact, most of the people believe that, differentiating people into metaphysical groups is needed to run the society.  

The Buddhist teachings are interlinked. For instance, the second truth talks about the causes of sufferings. According to four seals of dharma all emotions are painful. If one understands that material objects, forms, feelings, perceptions, and emotions are impermanent, then causes of suffering will end. The path to end of suffering is accepting that everything is impermanent. Then all clinging to worldly things will be meaningless. It will destroy the ego and diminish the cravings for worldly prosperity, social status, and power. As a result there will be no more labeling and discriminations against each other. The society will be more equalitarian. There will not be division of people on the name of gender and sex, socioeconomic status and class standards, no cast and creed, color will not differentiate people, no wars for power and oil, then the world will be a happier place. There will be no afflictive emotions and no pain; one will have the absolute peace: Nirvana. 

The main ideology of Buddhist teachings says everything is illusion. The realization of selflessness is accepting the impermanence of all apparently permanent things in this world. Buddhist teachings promote the search for the truth of our existence. Buddhist philosophy is similar to the law of conservation of energy. The law of conservation of energy states that, “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it transforms from one form to another.” The second seal of dharma says that nothing is permanent. For example, before our birth we were a half-cell, and even before that we were some atoms or sub particles of atom. When the two half cells from our both parents came together, we were produced. One day we will die. Our body will be rotten. We will be decomposed and again will turn into atoms and sub particle of atoms and even smaller. Some of our body will be converted to energy. This whole process demonstrates that everything is impermanent and it keeps on changing, but can’t be destroyed. Put more concisely, everything is impermanent, but also not destroyable. I wonder, does it means our existence will be always there but in different impermanent forms?  Then who are we, the body or the energy from which this body is made up? Does it also mean that gender is not permanent but it always exists in different impermanent forms? 

Why we still need Feminism? 

Regardless of all the good feminism has achieved, people don’t want to identify themselves as a feminist because of the false negative connotations associated with the word feminism. Some people argue that there is nothing left for feminists to claim because women have equal rights as men do in the society. Yes, women do have more social, political and economic rights than ever before in the society, but the fact is that in global level women are suffering because of gender inequality. Women are still struggling with basic human rights like honor killing, child marriages, female genital mutilation, street harassment, rape, pay inequality, education, are name to few. In modern world women also have to deal with body shaming, slut shaming and victim blaming on daily basis. People who claim that women have equal rights as men are failed to see the troubling global picture of women’s rights and the inequalities happening because of assigned gender roles to individuals, which limits the abilities of both men and women in the society. 
We need feminism because the epidemic of honor killings needs to be addressed. The motivation of honor killings is on the basis of cultural norms. Honor killing is violating the person’s right to life. According to the survey, in India and Pakistan around 2000 women are killed by family members every year in order to “restore the family’s honor.”(Time, Iftikhar) In both countries the actual rates of honor killing are much higher than the survey reports because most of the time family members commit the killings, thus there is no one on behalf of the victim to report the case. In Pakistan, in July 2016, the social media star, Qandeel Baloch, was killed by her brother on the name of family’s honor. Her brother’s explanation for murdering his sister was “girls are born to stay home.” In a press conference, Baloch’s brother says that, “I am proud of what I did… I drugged her first, and then I killed her. She was bringing dishonor to our family.” (Time, Iftikhar) Police investigation reveals that her brother is a drug addict, and he also has some cases of theft, now a murderer. This is the situation in male dominating societies like Pakistan, if a male is thief, drug addict and even a murderer that doesn’t bring shame to the family, on the other hand if a female becomes famous because of her hard-work and talent that brings shame to the family because “girls are born to stay home.” 

We need feminism because daily, “nearly 40,000 girls are wed before 18. In 36% of cases, the girls are younger than 15.” (Child Marriages) Child marriages take away the childhood of these little girls and push them under the responsibilities of marriage life. These young brides cannot continue their education, they cannot enjoy their childhood, and they have more health complications and have high maternal mortality during child birth. According to the report by the organization Because I am a Girl, across the world in every 2 second a girl before 18 is wed and if this issue is not addressed more than 140 million girls will become child brides by 2020. These early marriages are forced marriages and most common in South Asia and in Africa. Most of the time the reasons behind child marriages are; younger wives are more obedient. In patriarchy, men still want to dominate their partners, actually they don’t need a significant half rather they need a submissive sex slave and a servant to meet their needs. Parents wed their daughters early to protect girls from sexual violence. Ironically, child marriages end up having a larger risk of sexual abuse and domestic violence compared with marriages between adults. 

We need feminism because Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), “procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (WHO) is happening in 29 countries and it is practiced on girls as young as 5 months old. FGM is done to protect girls from been sluts and prevent them from having pleasurable sex. More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. (WHO) FGM has many short and long term health effects on the women’s health. It can cause complications like excessive bleeding, problems in urination, virginal infections, and difficulty during sex and high risk of mortality during child birth. FGM is very brutal act done to girls only because of the fact that they are female. We need feminism to aware people about the deathly norms of society to safeguard human rights because FMG is not a women’s problem it is the violation of human rights. 

We need feminism because girls have fewer opportunities to receive education in developing countries due to limited resources and gender parity. Providing education to the girls will help girls to come out the vicious cycle of poverty. Educated women are more autonomous regarding decision making about their personal life. Education is fundamental human right of every individual, but sadly, “women comprise two thirds of all the illiterate adults worldwide, as well as 60 percent of the world’s poorest people.” (Malala Fund) Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai, was shoot to death because she claims for girls education. In conservative societies we need more people like Malala, we need more feminist to have our rights.

We need feminism because women experience terror when walking alone under the moon and in some places even women experience terror when walking alone under the sun. Street harassment is the major problem faced by women including myself on daily basis. A study says that 99 percent of women experienced some form of street harassment in their lifetime, and 50 percent experienced it by 18. According to the study, Statistic- The Prevalence of Street Harassment, 79% of women living in cities in India, 86% in Thailand, 89% in Brazil, and 75% in London, UK have been subjected to harassment or violence in public. (Stop Street Harassment) The survey done in the United States found that 65% of all women had experienced street harassment. The super power of the world, United States, holds the first position in rape cases in the world. The survey found that, “males are majorly the rapist holding a proportion of 99%. Out of all the victims, 91% are females while 9% are males.” (U.S Bureau of Justice) The high rates of street harassment shows that women are been treated inferiorly and women are facing regular insult in the streets every day. In addition to this, sexual harassment in the workplace is still largely an issue of unequal power between men and women. The beauty standards of mass media are one of the main reasons behind high school bullying of young girls. Such harassments have devastated effects like depression, low self-esteem, anti-social behavior, seclusion and even suicides.  The worse kind of street harassment is rape. Sadly, today we are living in the societies where rape is the common problem and women are the major victim of it. We are living in a rape culture where women are constantly blame for been rape. Women are been slut-shamed for provoking innocent men. Women are asked to wear properly and behave properly in order to avoid rape instead of asking men to stop dehumanizing others and snatching others rights. 

We need feminism because women are still defined mostly by looks. Women are pressurized by media and beauty industry to have skinny body and flawless face. If women are obese it creates problem in their marriage life, personal life and even studies shows that obese women are trend to have low wages than normal weight or skinny women. Due to such pressure from the society women go for fatal surgeries if they can afford otherwise they have to suffer from social stigmatization and fat-shaming. Today women across the globe are having severe eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and others. According to study “every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder” (ANAD) Most of the victims of eating disorders are women and the main reason behind such disorders are the beauty standards given to us by the media. The sexiest language and propaganda by media about looks cause people to suffer. Even normal weight women are not happy with their bodies due to the anorexic underweighted models whose beauty is overestimated by TV ads. Dark skin women are struggling with looking paler and white skin women are lying under sun for hours and hours to get tan. The overexposure to ultraviolet rays causes skin cancer to many of these women. In fact, media is successful to make us all uncomfortable with our skin and our body types. A study done in UK shows that, “the average UK woman worries about her body image every 15 minutes.” (lifeheak.org) The competition of Miss Universe, Miss World and other beauty contests terrifies normal women about their looks. Even though, beauty contest says, they judge participants on the basis of “person’s knowledge, sensitivity, social commitment and intelligence.” I wonder what nudity has to do with intelligence and knowledge of the participants. If social commitment is being tested then why the participants are almost nude on the stage and do cat walk. If these are the standards to test the intelligence then why not men are asks to do ramp walk in underwear to demonstrate their management skills and knowledge. We need feminist to stop the beauty propaganda on TV advisements, to make people comfortable with their bodies, to stop judge people on the basis of their looks. 

Feminism is a believe that women should be treated same as men, not because women are better than men, because women are also human beings and they have same human rights as men do in any society, in any time period. Men also don’t have joyful life in many societies due to gender parity. We need feminism to ensure equal rights for all and equal division of labor in the societies. Men are considered money makers and providers of the family. Even the woman in family has equal or more income than man, still man are expected to bring more money to family and expected to take care of family’s financial needs. One of the most common expectations of men is that they be physically powerful: big, strong, muscular, and not vulnerable to any challenge.  Men are expected to not express their emotions publicly. The most common phrase in our society is “men don’t cry.”  Gender roles are holding the society back. According to a study published on the website, Change Our World, due to gender parity boys are twice as likely as girls to be diagnosed with a learning disorder. “30 percent boys are more likely than girls to drop out school. Tragically, they grow up into men who are also more likely to binge drink and around four times more likely than females to commit suicide.” (Haltiwanger) Human race is paying very high cost because of the assigned gender roles to the individuals. These particular gender roles limit the abilities of individuals and reinforce stereotypes about gender in a society. It is time to appreciate the abilities of individuals for what they are regardless of their gender and sex.

I am a feminist because I don’t believe in a narrow definition of masculinity and femininity. I agree with British actress and activist, Emma Watson, “Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive, both men and women should feel free to be strong.” 

Works Cited

Anadsupport. “Eating Disorder Statistics • National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.” National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. ANDN, n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.

“End Child Marriage.” Plan International. Because I Am a Girl, 2016. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.

Fund, The Malala. “The Malala Fund.” The Malala Fund. Malala’s Movement, 2016. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.

Haltiwanger | Elite Dail, John. “What It Means To ‘Be A Man’ In Today’s World.” Elite Daily. Change Our World, 12 Nov. 2015. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

Iftikhar, Arsalan. “Honor Killings Are a Global Problem.” Time. Time, 16 July 2016. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.

Lil__Leila. “11 Important Reasons We Still Need Feminism.” Pulptastic. N.p., 08 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.

Locke, Robert. “This Is Why We Need Feminism.” Lifehack. HeforShe, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.

Request, Street. “Top 10 Countries With Highest Rape Crime – StreetRequest.com || No.1 Home For Entertainment…..” StreetRequest.com || No.1 Home For Entertainment….. Streetrequest.Com, 02 Nov. 2016. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.

Buddhism as an Andocentric Religious

Like most of the world major religions Buddhism is also andocentric and according to the writer Buddhism is quadruple andocentric. I think the main reason for Buddhism been andocentric is due to the conventional patriarchy of Indian society for thousands of years. Even though women were celebrated as goddesses in ancient Indian religions but the tradition of man as a powerful being was institutionalized in the society. Most of the religious activities were conduct by men and women were use as a means to fulfill the needs. The history and religious doctrines were recorded by men. Therefore, religious records reflect the viewpoints of the men, for the men and to the men about the men’s role, power, dignity, position, responsibility and importance in the religious activities. Very less or no records are collected from women in any religion including Buddhism about their perspective on religion and their spiritual journey to meet the enlightenment. In this way half of the population is ignored while writing religious records. Here the question arises that how accurate be such kind of records which didn’t include half of the population’s ideology, prospective and experience.  
According to many religious doctrines women can’t be given high religious position to lead the religious ceremonies because she is flawed and unsound. Here as a woman I wonder how come “a being” who is coming out of me, who has my genes and my traits, who is nature under me, who is part of me, is more splendid and magnificent than I am.  

Actually some men are power hunger and insecure; therefore, they flight with each other to have power. Such men look downwards on women to discourage them. They don’t want women to stand in the battlefield of “war of power” to make it more challenging for men. These men are called misogynists. I believe back then there were more misogynic men; therefore, history and religion is all dominated by men and women has less to say or to give her input in any major activity either religious or a social.

NGOs in empowering women within the development process.

In developing countries NGOs are busy with programs like women empowerment, care for children and fight against poverty. It is a general believe that NGOs are a backbone to support poor of the society, especially, women and marginalized people. Contrary to this general believe Fernando argues that NGOs reinforce the existing discrimination and marginalization against women in the name of women empowerment while working closely with the institutions which encourage patriarchy and engender the gender in society. To justify his argument Fernando makes the following claims.

 Firstly, Fernando highlights the issues of gender and its expression in the process of development. He claims that the women empowerment programs subordinate the preferences of women. NGOs encourage the programs which can be supported by the mainstream institutions and the traditions in the society. Mostly these pre-existing norms in traditional societies abandon the priorities of women. Therefore, Fernando called it, “second subversion of an emancipatory project.” According to Fernando, NGOs are working similar to the “Public Associations,” in British colonies. The irony is that British themselves were on guilt to breach human rights and they were having programs like Public Associations for women empowerment. In the case of NGOs, apparently NGOs are supposed to work independently then government policies to ensure women empowerment and gender equality. But so called independent NGOs are working under state policies, which are already fail to ensure equinity.

Though there are few programs which have played a vital role in women empowerment such as, Women in Development (WID) has help women to deal with market affairs. Such programs change the role of women from food maker at a home to the food buyer for the family and give her power over decision making in investment projects over the quite long span of time. But this program is lacking behind due to fail to appreciate the complex social and economic relations of gender in society. Only empowering women economically without noticing their social position in society also cause problems for women. For example, if woman is provided enough money to start a small business but not allowed to have access to the market will not change her position in society. Therefore, NGOs need to consider not only the problems of individuals but they also need to consider the larger picture of society too.

Secondly Fernando claims that, the role of institutions is neglected in studies on empowerment programs by NGOs. Empowerment programs should secure all aspects of women rights to achieve economic, political, and social equality. NGOs are workings with the institutions without analyzing their role in gender equality. For example, NGOs working in male dominant society don’t take account of the decision making process and the power dynamic at household level. Most of the times in male dominant society women are use as a source to collect the resources from NGOs by man to fulfill their own needs. NGOs don’t have a proper feedback mechanism to deal with such problems. In this way empowerment programs strengthen the ideologies to promote subordination of women in society and make women more susceptible to inferiorities. Fernando says that only providing awareness about women-rights is not sufficient to achieve women empowerment. In other words to ensure women empowerment it is essential that women should be provided enough economic resources, freedom to use the available resources and allow to utilize their talent and skills. They should also be given the power to take control over economic plans and decision making regarding economic investments in household issues.

Thirdly Fernando argues that, micro-credit programs are successful in many countries but the irony is that this success is possible due to the collaborations of the institutions which are considered to be obstacles to women empowerment. Fernando’s field research in Bangladesh shows that, micro-enterprises were not helpful to create solidarity among women, which is one of the main aims of empowerment. Instead, women face peer pressure during repayments and were under constant surveillance by other group members regarding their everyday expenditures.

The proponents of NGOs argue that, non-governmental organizations work to overcome the limitations of government to support needy people. NGOs are able to solve the problems of poor because they have one to one interactions with people and can combat the handicaps from grass root level. Moreover, NGOs work is independent of government interference so they have much free space to deal with problems from various angles. But reality is totally different from the claims of proponents, Fernando field research shows that, “Bangladeshi NGOs, openly supported the Awami League government.” It is true in many other developing countries such as my own country Pakistan where many INGOs support government policies in order to have permission to work otherwise they are not allow by government. Therefore, expecting NGOs to be helpful because they are not influence by government policies is insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Einstein)

NGOs that are concern about women empowerment should keep in mind that only providing awareness about women rights through sessions and educational programs are not sufficient enough to assurance women empowerment. Instead it provokes predicaments and underpins depression in women. For example, the suicide rates in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan are more common among educated women between 15 to 35 years of age. Though much research has not been done to know the reason behind increasing suicide trend among women, from my personal observation I assume that it is mostly because of the restrictions and expectations from women in our society which compel them to do suicide. Educated women are more susceptible to suicide because conservative social setup is not allowing them to practice their rights and enjoy their freedom, which elicits depression and suicidal thoughts. Sadly, awareness about women’s rights is doing more bad than good for women in our society, “ignorance is blessing” seems true in this case. Therefore, in order to empower women NGOs should come up with pragmatic programs with tangible results regarding empowerment. Since, women are more financially, socially and politically vulnerable in society. NGOs should provide them enough economic resources along with moral and political support which hopefully will lend a hand in women empowerment.

 

 

Neo-liberalism

Neo-liberalism is mainly an economic philosophy which promoters a substantial economic liberalization policies like free trade, privatization of government and public organizations. It also demands for the reduction of government interference in private sector to advance the economy in order to make the citizens self-sufficient in terms of massive economic productions. The neo-liberal idea was emerged in early 19th century but the implementation of neoliberal policies become common in 70s and 80s when citizens were not happy with escalating dreadful performance of government. In 1970s many philosophers and economists support the implementation of neoliberal policies. According to neoliberals, less participation of government in economic policies will lead to better economic achievements and will enhance economic growth in general. (Willis) It seems that the neoliberal policies are influenced by the Adam Smith’s idea of “Invisible hand” and it also supports the bottom up development approach. Neoliberal policies reinforce the idea of let the market run by its own without any interference from government or any other controlling authority. This idea is same as the concept behind invisible hand. Here the concept of decentralization is accentuated to mobilize markets freely in order to circulate goods and services comparatively with less trouble across the borders. Free trade was endorsed by neoliberals because after World War II on several occasions it was witness that economies run by government performed poorly in economic sector. Overall economic activities in countries govern by government grow inefficiently as compare to the sectors run by private agencies. Neoliberals therefore were optimistic about the idea of free market and privatizations of economic sector for bigger good of the citizens.

Secondly, to some extent neoliberal policies also put into practice the concept of bottom up development approach. In bottom up approach individuals are working for their own good and benefit. The central authority is not involved in individual’s business. (DS class lecture) Neoliberal policies add to this idea of individuals’ investment to earn paramount amount of benefit without interference of government.

Focusing on the World Bank Structural Adjustment Approach, there are mount of evidence by researchers that the economic development and human rights are negatively affected due to imposition of neoliberal policies in developing countries. According to the article, The Human Rights Effects of World Bank Structural Adjustment, the poorest of the society always face impoverishment due to the implementation of Structural Adjustment Policies. The prerequisites for the implementation of SAAs are the reduction of public services from which the poorest of the society get benefits. For instance, SAAs demands for the “reductions in public employment, and cuts in expenditures for health, education and welfare programs.” (M. Rodwan et al) The main objective of SAAs is to enhance the economies of poor countries, reduce poverty, ensure democracy and improve human rights. Ironically the prerequisites to have support from SAAs have injurious effects on its own objectives. For instance, to get support from Bank governments need to reduce public services such as, reduction on subsidies for food commodities, subsequently, the expenditures of the poorest of a society increases without any supplementations in their income sources. It leads to financial crisis and increase domestic conflicts. Increase domestic violence cause problems for governments and to handle such situations mostly governments becomes less democratic. Ample of research studies have shown that increase domestic violence and less democratic countries have less respect for human rights and they also have poor economies. (M. Rodwan et al)

Unfortunately the apparent good will of SAAs end up with worse results in many developing countries yet the insanity is still there. Many developing countries are implementing the same policies to get different outcomes without any significant changes in them. Here some may have argue that the countries which are getting financial support from Bank have large population and have poor economies which may be cause of less respect to human rights and for broken democracies. But for this study researchers have analyzed the data after controlling for confounders and variables which may cause erroneous results. Therefore, this claim may not be valid. The finding shows that it is a failure of SAAs policies which leads to worsen of economic growth in developing countries. The enigma is that why still these policies are implemented in many developing countries in name of economic growth and to reduce poverty, even though, these policies have shown tremendously bad results in past and in present. I wonder what really makes the investors think that they will have positive results in future without any changes in the policies.

On the other hand, neoliberal prospective of SAAs is that, when economy will be more liberal everyone will have chance to start their own business. Free market will allow people to invest without any restrictions from government. This rapid economic liberalization will help people to be settable economically; as a result, countries will be more democratic. Democracy will lead to good governance, more respect for human rights and economic rights of the citizens. (M. Rodwan et al) The neoliberals prospective of economic growth through the implementation of SAAs seem valid. But unfortunately the multidimensional real life complexities can’t be resolved with such straightforward policy which deals life in a liner pattern. Firstly, the neoliberals economic prospective didn’t explains that from where the poorest of the society will arrange enough money to start his or her own business when he or she don’t have enough money to buy a food to stratify their hunger. Secondly, neoliberal prospective didn’t talk about the possible challenges face by the society because of the reduction in public services from government. In fact neoliberals don’t have any alternative to subside economic problems of the poor people. Neoliberal prospective seems like an elite thought where everyone has enough money to start their own business but due to the government policies and interference these people can’t start their own business. Therefore, they are demanding for a free market and less interference of government in private sector so that haves will use their wealth to earn a handsome amount of benefit out it.

Neoliberals are underestimating economic inequalities in the society. Their policies are only focusing on the haves of a society who can start their own business and will get benefits from the free trade policies in business. Neoliberal prospective is over-glorifying the outcomes of SAAs policies and its benefits without considering the problems of poor and lower class people.

 

The Human rights Effects of World Bank Structural Adjustment

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Structural Adjustment Agreements (SAAs) was developed to help poor countries with economic crisis but according to many studies SAAs has negative effect on economic growth of poor countries and worsens government human rights practices.  Countries with large population and weaken economies are more likely to have SAAs, having a large population and being relatively poor are also causes of human rights violations. Therefore, it may be the events in the country which are responsible for poor human rights implementation instead of SAAs.

Research shows that structural adjustment conditions cause problems for marginalized and for poor people of the society because SAAs demands to lessen public employment, removal of price subsidies for essential goods and services such as education, health and other basic necessitates of life. On one hand it is beneficial to have SAAs because free market allow people to have their own business easily but if we talk about poor people in society who don’t have enough to eat or to wear properly from where they will start to have a new business. On top of this if government will stop to provide them basic rights then number of poor people will increase, lower middle class people and other vulnerable groups will also suffer from poverty. If more people will be poor than more problems will be in the society and human rights will also be violated. According to the study, “national economies grow fastest when basic human rights are respected” SAAs is causing more poverty which causes violation of human rights and that leads to threat for economies. In this way IMF and World Bank are “damaging their own mission”

In the given reading it says that, “democracies also are at a disadvantage when negotiating with the World Bank” why?

Neoliberalism

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Neoliberalism is define as the society should be shaped by the free market, there should be private property rights, individual liberty and economy should be private, and state has to be concern about quality of trade, security and safeguard of its citizens and their property. The main idea behind neoliberalism is, “Liberty and equality through the free market.” This very word liberal is a fancy term and neoliberalism is a beautiful and attractive language which talks about freedom and openness for all. But ironically this so called free market is not really free for everyone. Free market makes market free for upper class and for capitalists and less free or even makes it difficult to move for lower class. Due to which turn in neoliberalism comes in play. When capital accumulates in few hands it affects everyone. In society number of unemployment increases which leads to inflation and affects overall economy of the country. Then socialists and other schools of thought get together and stand against this new system which creates threat for capitalists.

I think creative destruction also benefits capitalists. Creative destruction comes with new markets and novel innovations. For example, before invention of printers book publishers use typing machines. For that they have to have many people to type the books. Back then books were comparatively costly and were not assessable for everyone. Only elites of the society can afford to have books. Now after invention of printers everyone and anyone can print anything just sitting in their home. The quality of printing is much better and prices are also reasonable then before. But now almost more than 50% people have lost their jobs in this new market therefore such inventions are called creative destruction.  This type of inventions limits economic growth and channel wealth from subordinate class to the wealthy one.

Here is a problem about which I have being thinking. Suppose there is a new invention which is very effective, consumes less time, money, energy and its production quality is very high than ever before, but using this new innovation causes unemployment of more than half of the country. What should be done? Should government allow this new technology which causes considerable rising in unemployment?  Why or why not?