Term Paper on Women in Media
An understanding of the situation of women in developing societies, and particularly in the media in these societies, is necessary to put into perspective the discussion on the role and status of women in the media in Tanzania – the theme of this study.
The literature on women and development has generated sufficient evidence that women in developing countries have been marginalized in the development process. Empirical studies, most of which came out during and after the United Nations Decade for Women (1975-1985), documented the subordinate position of women in the home and die public sphere.
Women have limited access to resources in these countries and are powerless, even in deciding on issues around their own fertility. Women’s powerlessness and their subordination, as various scholars have argued, is due to the persistence of male domination through patriarchy in these developing societies. In patriarchal societies, men and women are assigned different roles.
The sexual division of labor is such that the domestic sphere becomes a woman’s domain. Women perform domestic activities which consist of a great variety of subsistence tasks such as carrying water, gathering firewood, caring for the old, young and sick. In these predominantly agricultural societies women also perform the bulk of agricultural activities.
The multiple roles that women play often require long hours. Domestic labor in these countries is an enormous burden and can involve women for more than five or six hours of labour per day, on top of any other outside work. Under patriarchy, domestic work, seen as demeaning for men to do, is undervalued, unappreciated and unpaid. Domestic work puts a lot of pressure on women’s time and energy. Hence, while many of the productive activities undertaken by women require long hours and improve the family’s well-being, they are frequently not considered to be economic activities.
This means women are not only unequal to men but are also exploited. Molyneaux argues that patriarchy which entails the “subjection of all members of the unit to his (male) authority” is an unresolved problem that perpetuates unequal gender relations. Even in pre-capitalist systems of production which had undergone some changes, women generally had fewer rights and more obligations than men; “they typically could not inherit property, and were obliged to see their main function as serving their menfolk and bearing children”