Patriarchy and Gender Issues on Women


Patriarchy refers to the dominant power men exhibit as a means to maintain order in the household.

While gender discrimination is regarded a problem, the concept of patriarchy still remains strong in modern day society.

This article will introduce the fundamentals of patriarchal system as well as issues of patriarchy, and international gender discrimination against women.

Summary of the Patriarchal System

Summary of the Patriarchal System

  • Male domination
  • Female oppression

The view that gender discrimination is acceptable is a common misconception under the patriarchy system.
Now let us dive deeper into characteristics of patriarchy.

Male Domination

Prior to patriarchy, there was no division between men and women however, the belief that natural gender differences exists disseminated the idea of patriarchy.

Owing to the ideology that men are superior to women, the discriminatory idea of male domination still exists.

When the idea of patriarchy was born, patriarchs who were considered in charge of the household could sell off their children as working slaves.

As such, the patriarchal system stems on the fundamental belief of male domination, which also reflects similarities in society.

Female Oppression

Female Oppression

As the patriarchy system also includes female oppression, it is believed that most women at the time had gone through oppression.

In modern society, there is growing movement towards eliminating gender discrimination. This has been established under the “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women” under the United Nations.

For the purposes of the present Convention, the term “discrimination against women” shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.
Reference : “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women New York, 18 December 1979 – OHCHR”

This concept aims to establish the right to gender equality, which is also demonstrated under basic human rights.

The idea of Patriarchy and Feminism

The idea of Patriarchy and Feminism

Patriarchy and feminism are thought to be closely related.

Feminism is the concept that men and women are of equal – the ideology of a gender discrimination free society.

The idea of patriarchy and feminism can be categorized into the following:

  • Shulamith Firestone
  • Juliet Mitchell
  • Kate Millett

Shulamith Firestone

Shulamith Firestone believes that the origin of patriarchy is based on the idea of reproduction and biological families.

“The Dialectic of Sex” written in 1970 aims to clarify the patriarchal system and has stated as follows:

  • The origin of patriarchy is based on the idea of reproduction and biological families.
  • Society has been divided into two unequal biological hierarchies.
  • The sex categorization assumed from the patriarchal system is deemed to be the foundation of all class systems.

Shulamith Firestone mentions that the advancement of science that allows females to reproduce without being dependent on men will help abolish patriarchy and gender discrimination.

Juliet Mitchell

Juliet Mitchell

Juliet Mitchell praises Shulamith Firestone’s ideology on patriarchy.

In fact, Juliet Mitchell is prominently known as a psychoanalyst in England.

Kate Millett

Kate Millett defines patriarchy as a system of double standard that allows men to exhibit male dominance by age and gender.

She is said to have had a tremendous influence on the second wave of feminism and is referenced in the book “Philosophy of Sex” published in 1970.

Additionally, she criticized that patriarchy has no positive impact on the economy (to promote economic independence for women) which led to the creation of the slogan for the second wave of the feminist movement.

Issues on International Gender Discrimination

Issues on International Gender Discrimination

There exists international gender discrimination other than patriarchy.

In particular, the four notoriously known issues are:

  • Abuse and Sexual Violence
  • Educational Inequality
  • Early Marriage of Minors
  • Inequality in Employment Opportunities

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also addresses reducing gender discrimination against women as one of their primary goals.

Abuse and Sexual Violence

According to UNICEF’s database, one in three women is either a victim of sexual violence or physical violence.

There are a lot of instances where women are less powerful than men but in regions where social division is deeply rooted, women tend to be especially mistreated.

For example, in Africa or the Middle East, sexual violence towards minors and genital mutilation is a serious matter that has become an internationally recognized issue.

Genital mutilation for women is still being conducted in some regions as a cultural tradition.

In this way, the United Nations and UNICEF are working together to reduce abuse and sexual violence towards women, but will without a doubt be a long-term initiative.

Educational Inequality

Educational Inequality

Educational inequality for women is another serious issue that needs to be recognized and treated internationally.

SDGs also recognizes “to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning” for women as well.

The three main reasons women are not able to receive education:

  • Poverty
  • Giving Birth
  • Educational Environment

It is also proven that we can achieve higher economic development by enhancing education for women. This has sparked general interest in education for women.

Early Marriage for Minors

According to UNICEF, there are approximately 700 million women are married off at the age of 18 or under; of which, approximately 1 in 3 are married at the age of 15.
Countries that face the problem of early marriage for minors:

  • South Asia:42%
  • East Asia:26%
  • Africa:17%

The number of married minors have been declining year by year however, some experts are concerned this trend will not last owing to a rapid increase in population.

Abolishing the system that allows minors to be married off can help encourage women to take part in society and break the poverty chain.

Inequality in Employment Opportunities

Inequality in Employment Opportunities

Women are not given equal employment opportunities, which is an internationally recognized gender discrimination issue.

Non-discrimination cuts across all international human rights law. This principle is present in all major human rights treaties. It also provides the central theme of 2 core instruments: the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Reference : “What are human right? – OHCHR”

According to a survey conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO), women make less income than men across all countries.

It is true that opportunities for women advancement in politics and management is decreasing. Many countries are attempting to normalize and “realize a society where women can shine”.

Issues on Patriarchy

Issues on Patriarchy

Internationally, the patriarchal system is a serious issue.

Today, many activists are attempting to abolish the patriarchal system to realize a society where every woman can live life with no oppression.

When the idea of patriarchy was born, there was a lack of understanding for gender equality, and women’s opinion had not been reflected.

In the future, it is important to recognize gender equality, and for each and every one of us to be aware of a world free of violence, poverty and discrimination.

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