Women's Issues and Multiculturalism

3214 Words13 Pages
Women's Issues and Multiculturalism ABSTRACT: In part one of this paper, I offer a description of the main versions of multiculturalism, with its liberal interpretation among them. In part two, I give an outline of the changes that have taken place in women's social status in the course of history and of the various stages of their emancipation process. In the third part I examine the relationship between multiculturalism and women's issues in general. Finally, I explore the same in Hungary, and attempt to draw some general consequences. Does a minority group (e.g., Gypsies in Hungary) in a multicultural society have the right to maintain their traditional patriarchal culture? I argue that the liberation of women is not a "women's issue"; it is part of the persistent enforcement of human rights. My address is divided into four parts. In the first part I offer a description of the main versions of multiculturalism, with its liberal interpretation among them. In the second part I shall give an outline of the changes that have taken place in women's social status in the course of history and of the various stages of their emancipation process. In the third part I examine the relationship between multiculturalism and women's issues in general. Finally, in the fourth part I explore the same in Hungary, and attempt at drawing some general consequences. (I) It is appropriate to distinguish between two types of multicultural societies-the traditional and the modern. In traditional societies, several ethnic groups may have lived together, which, despite their differences, basically belonged to the same civilisation. In countries which belong in the European civilisation, for instance, English and Scots, French and Bretons have li... ... middle of paper ... ...oup have the right in a multicultural society to maintain their traditional patriarchal culture? Members of a minority group are as good citizens as those in the majority. They therefore have the same rights. However, they also have the same duties. Maintaining traditions that violate civil liberties is not to be tolerated. Preserving the mother tongue or cultivating the arts is one thing, wearing chador or clitoral circumcision is an entirely different matter. If the female members of a minority group undertake to follow such traditions of their own will, they are similar to members of such sects as may go as far as committing collective suicide. In the majority of cases, however, coercion of some sort is present. The liberation of women, therefore, is in the spirit of the modern world not a 'women's issue'; it is part of the persistent enforcement of human rights.
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