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Facebook Study Finds Race Trumped by Ethnic, Social, Geographic Origins in Forging Friendships

ScienceDaily (Oct. 28, 2010) — Race may not be as important as previously thought in determining who buddies up with whom, suggests a new UCLA-Harvard University study of American college students on the social networking site Facebook.

"Sociologists have long maintained that race is the strongest predictor of whether two Americans will socialize," said Andreas Wimmer, the study's lead author and a sociologist at UCLA. "But we've found that birds of a feather don't always flock together. Whom you get to know in your everyday life, where you live, and your country of origin or social class can provide stronger grounds for forging friendships than a shared racial background."

"We've been able to show that just because two people of the same racial background are hanging out together, it's not necessarily because they share the same racial background," said co-author Kevin Lewis, a Harvard graduate student in sociology.

In fact, the strongest attraction turned out to be plain, old-fashioned social pressure. For the average student, the tendency to reciprocate a friendly overture proved to be seven times stronger than the attraction of a shared racial background, the researchers found.

"We both were surprised by the strength of social pressure to return friendships," said Lewis. "If I befriend you, chances are that you're going to feel the need to balance things out and become my friend, and often even the friend of my friends."

The findings appear in the current issue of the American Journal of Sociology, which is expected to publish online early next week.

Other mechanisms that proved stronger than same-race preference included having attended an elite prep school (twice as strong), hailing from a state with a particularly distinctive identity such as Illinois or Hawaii (up to two-and-a-half times stronger) and sharing an ethnic background (up to three times stronger).

Even such routine facts of college life as sharing a major or a dorm often proved at least as strong, if not stronger, than race in drawing together potential friends, the researchers found. Sharing a dorm room, for example, proved to be one of the strongest formulas for friendship formation, ranking only behind the norm of reciprocating friendship as a friendship-forging force.

When they hit on the idea of using Facebook to study social networks, Wimmer, Lewis and colleagues at Harvard were looking for a way to study a network of friendships as it developed. They set their sights on freshmen of the class of 2009 at an unidentified university with a high participation rate on the social networking site. In addition to being highly selective, the university attracts students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

"Given the school's high admission standards, it was highly unlikely that these freshmen were going be enrolling with their high school buddies," Wimmer said. "Most of these relationships were developing from scratch."

The university's approach to housing also lent itself to a study of friendship forces beyond race. Freshmen of different racial backgrounds are assigned to share rooms at a higher frequency than would be expected under random conditions, suggesting an institutional commitment to racial diversity in housing.

Even though 97 percent of the class's 1,640 students set up Facebook profiles, Wimmer and Lewis decided not to focus on the social networking site's most basic indicator of a social connection -- its "friend" feature, by which students send a request to others on the network to become friends.

"We were trying to go for a stronger measure of friendship than just clicking a link and connecting with someone over the Web," Lewis said.

So the researchers followed the 736 freshmen who posted photos of fellow classmate-friends and then took the additional step of "tagging" the photos with those classmates' names, a step that causes the photos to be displayed on the friends' Facebook profiles.

"Tagged photos are by-products of people who obviously spent time together in real-life social settings," Wimmer said. "They're an echo of a real interaction that students also want to have socially recognized. They're not like some online communication that only occurs over the Web."

Wimmer and Lewis scrupulously tracked the tagged photos as the freshmen posted them, at an average rate of 15 unique "picture friends" per student. Armed with housing information supplied by the university and personal details posted on profiles, the researchers then set out to statistically analyze dozens of characteristics shared by the freshmen who tagged each other.

While the research was approved by Facebook, the researchers did not receive special permission to bypass privacy settings and only used information that could be seen by other students at the same university. The researchers determined each study subject's race based on photos and last names. They gathered additional information on each student's ethnic background; tastes in movies, music, and books; their home state, major and housing; and the types of high schools they attended.

True to past research, the sociologists initially watched same-race friendships develop at a much higher rate than would be expected if the relationships had occurred randomly, based on the racial makeup of the freshman class. For instance, white co-eds befriended each other one-and-a-half times more frequently than would be expected under random conditions. For racial minorities, the numbers were much higher. Latino students befriended each other four-and-a-half times more frequently, and African American students befriended each other eight times more frequently.

But when the researchers dug deeper, race appeared to be less important than a number of other factors in forging friendships.

Much of what at first appeared to be same-race preference, for instance, ultimately proved to be preference for students of the same ethnic background, Wimmer and Lewis found. This was especially the case for Asian students, who befriended each other nearly three times more frequently than would be expected if relationships were formed on the basis of chance. But once the researchers started controlling for the attraction of shared ethnic backgrounds or countries of origin, the magnitude of racial preference was cut almost in half. The appeal of shared ethnicity was strongest for Vietnamese freshmen, who befriended each other at three times the rate that average students befriended each other on the basis of a shared racial background.

"This means that students are going into social settings and saying to themselves, 'Great, there's someone else who is Vietnamese,' not, 'There is someone else who is Asian,' " Wimmer said.

Once the researchers controlled for the social pressure to return friendships, the importance of racial similarity in friendship formation further receded. Accounting for the pressure to return friendships and to befriend friends of friends, same-race preference dropped by one-half for Latinos and a whopping two-thirds for African Americans.

"Two students with the same racial background can also become friends because they follow norms of how to make friends, not only because of racial preference," Wimmer said. "If only to avoid tensions in one's social circles, friendships are often returned and friends of friends tend to become friends among themselves."

Controlling for the types of high schools attended by the freshmen also produced telling results. Alumni of the nation's "select 16" college preparatory schools were twice as likely to form friendships as were freshmen who shared the same race, suggesting that the distinction between elite and non-elite families is a higher hurdle to friendship than race.

While the researchers insist that their findings cannot be interpreted to show that racism and racial discrimination isn't still a problem in America, they believe that past research might have exaggerated the role of race in social relationships, not the least because data on race is readily available in existing datasets while information on other background characteristics or on student activities is much harder to come by.

Their study exemplifies a new trend in social science research to mine data from social networking sites to study human behavior, including relationships, identity, self-esteem, popularity and political engagement.

"Facebook data on college students allowed us to peer behind race categories to see what other commonalities might possibly be at work in drawing together potential friends," Wimmer said. "It's a natural experiment in mixing people from all over the country and seeing how they behave in this new environment."

Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Talking to Kids about Gender Stereotypes

About Gender - Talking to Kids about Gender Stereotypes
Images of men and women in the media are often based on stereotypical roles of males and females in our society. Because stereotyping can affect how children feel about themselves and how they relate to others, it's important that they learn to recognize and understand gender stereotypes in different media.

Here are some tips to help kids understand how boys and girls and men and women are stereotyped in the media.

Start talking about gender stereotyping early on. Familiarize young children with the concept of stereotyping (simple, one-dimensional portrayals of people, based on generalizations based on gender, race, age, etc.) and help them understand the role gender stereotypes play in the storybooks and cartoons they enjoy. Point out non-traditional heroes and heroines in children's media.

Look at how boys and girls are stereotyped in advertisements and in movies and TV programs. Talk about how these images are limiting for children, who may feel they aren't "normal" because they don't fit the mould, for example, a girl who plays sports aggressively or a boy who likes reading and drawing.

Ask kids to think about how realistically males and females are portrayed in the media. Ask them to compare the images of men and women they see on TV with people they know in real life. Are the standards for attractiveness the same for men and women? Are females generally more concerned about personal relationships, while men are more concerned about their careers?

Examine advertising for a stereotypical male (someone who is confident, physically active, aggressive, in control) and a stereotypical female (someone who is beautiful, helpless, domestic, sexually attractive). Discuss how such images can influence how we perceive sex roles.

Talk about the differences in video games designed for boys and girls. Look at the images of men and women in games designed for boys. Who are the aggressors and who are the victims? What about games where the women are the "shooters"? Is this a step forward for women? Why do so many girl-specific games promote stereotypical interests such as make-up and fashion?

Look at gender portrayal in popular music. Discuss the marketing of male and female musical artists: how does it differ? What role does attractiveness play in the promotion of female artists: is it the same for male artists? Talk about the sexism and violence directed at women in some music lyrics and videos.

Look for strong, realistic portrayals of men and women. The media can provide engaging, positive and non-traditional role models for boys and girls. Counter the many stereotypical gender portrayals kids are exposed to with media portrayals of sensitive men and strong women.

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Welcome to the site About Gender! About Gender is a site That Gives information about gender and gender news. Here we will discuss about the "understanding of gender, the definition of gender, gender studies, feminism, gender research report, references to gender, gender news".

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Gender and economic reforms in Africa: The hidden political and ideological agenda

Gender analysis is increasingly reduced to technical and sectoral matters and is not being used as a political tool for women’s emancipation and empowerment, says Zo Randriamaro.
About Gender. THE findings of the first round of 16 research and advocacy projects that the Gender and Economic Reforms in Africa (GERA) programme has supported in 11 African countries confirm that the economic policy reforms of the 1980s and 1990s were not gender-neutral. They have had an adverse impact on African women and gender relations as a whole, and reinforced existing inequalities by region and along class lines.

Key issues raised by the research on gender and economic policy reforms, globalisation, debt relief, trade and investment liberalisation, and by the use of some feminist concepts in different contexts, were discussed during a special ‘Beijing + 5’ workshop organised by the GERA programme and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Africa on 5 June in New York.

The research recognised that the architects of these economic policies themselves - the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - are imbued with gender imbalances and neglected women’s interests and concerns.

In response to these criticisms that challenge the dominant economic paradigm, these institutions have trivialised the participatory action research undertaken by gender activists and civil society organisations (CSOs) as not being ‘rigorous’ enough. They claim that external factors such as inefficient government or lack of human capital, not their policies, are the main causes of the crisis.

What is ‘rigorous’ research and how do people’s economic and social realities fit in?

These claims raise fundamental questions for gender activists and CSOs: what is ‘rigorous’ research, and should such research disqualify human beings and their condition as starting points for analyses? Who set the criteria and for what purpose? How can the immediate needs of the communities be addressed without losing sight of the larger macroeconomic policy issues? How can one go beyond coping strategies so as to develop real alternatives?

The responses to these questions should take into account the depoliticisation of gender issues by most of the donors. Gender analysis is increasingly reduced to technical and sectoral matters and is not being used as a political tool for women’s emancipation and empowerment. Similarly, some of the central concepts in feminist analyses have been hijacked and ‘neutralised’ to maintain the status quo in the basic economic power relations.

The politics of globalisation or how to improve the management of exclusion

In political terms, globalisation is a process of exclusion, not inclusion, of Africa, in contrast with the early stages of capitalist development. The focus on liberalisation, privatisation, and promotion of foreign direct investment in African countries during the last two decades has led, among other things, to a decline in the share of world trade for African goods and overseas development assistance (ODA).

The process of exclusion also operates along gender lines, as seen in the increasing dependence on women and children as unpaid labour in the informal sector and smallholder farms.

Despite these realities, the globalisation process itself is presented in the dominant official discourse as a benign process: as the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, put it during the opening ceremony of the Geneva 2000 Forum, people are poor ‘not because they have too much globalisation but too little...’

Annan conceded that many people are being hurt in a globalising planet, but ‘not from globalisation itself but from the failure to manage its adverse effects’. It appears that initiatives such as the World Bank-led Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) process are part of such management.

Ultimately, they are meant to better manage the exclusion of whole segments of populations from the global market, using a core feminist principle such as ‘participation’ to meet needs and interests that are not those of the marginalised groups, especially women. The civil society participation called for in the PRSP process is mainly meant to help legitimise economic reforms and globalisation.

As part of the conditionalities of HIPC, CSOs - including some of the most radical ones - have been involved in these processes and believe that they are part of a new transformation.

On the other hand, while CSOs and feminists have succeeded in mainstreaming gender issues into some African government budget-making processes under the Gender Budget Initiative (GBI), the ultimate outcome and meaning of the GBI raise a critical question about the use of another core feminist concept, which is gender mainstreaming: is this gender mainstreaming or domestication, in the context of existing policies and government structures of power, and in the absence of any call for a radical change in macroeconomic policies on the part of the concerned CSOs?

The main lesson learned from the experience of Tanzania is the danger of co-optation by the global management system and, subsequently, of losing the ability to resist the dominant ideology and to identify alternative macroeconomic policy reform.

The political economy of investment and trade liberalisation

Investment and trade liberalisation are an essential part of the global management system. Indeed, during the last two decades, trade policy reform and foreign investment have become key elements of the internal policy changes and strategies aimed at consolidating the economic reforms undertaken under the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) in African countries.

The structural reforms carried out by African countries are being institutionalised by multilateral arrangements based on trade policy reform and foreign investment such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Lome Convention and the US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

Altogether, they seek to underpin relationships with Africa on a new agenda of investment and trade liberalisation.

The international trade and financial institutions, namely the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO, support macroeconomic policies that further the interests of transnational corporations (TNCs) in their search for new markets and new sources of cheap labour, and reinforce the exclusion of disadvantaged social groups, especially women. At the same time, new institutional mechanisms to link these institutions are being developed and experimented. This increasing collusion between the most powerful global institutions is legitimised by the need to coordinate policy and implementation to ensure that everyone will benefit from the globalisation process, especially the poor.

As underlined by the UN Secretary-General in his speech at the Geneva 2000 Forum, ‘they are poor not because they have too much globalisation but too little or none at all’. In the same speech, he also affirmed that the UN has made common cause not only with the World Bank and the IMF, but also with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the so-called ‘rich men’s club’ of donor nations.

The questions raised by these developments include the role of the African nation states in this process, particularly in meeting demands for gender equality and social and economic justice, and the role of global institutions in the actual management of African economies and societies.

A new orthodoxy in economic analyses, mainly based on the neo-classical and neo-liberal paradigms, justifies post-adjustment policies by providing the rationale for consolidating the economic reforms undertaken under SAPs, regardless of their detrimental impact on peopleÕs lives, especially women’s lives, and by imputing all the adverse effects of current trade and investment policies to the African nation states themselves, and not to these policies or to the market.

This new orthodoxy also legitimises the subordination of women, namely by overlooking the differences in both entitlements and constraints between men and women, and by building on the assumption that women’s work is free and infinitely elastic, and that they will therefore continue to supply their unpaid contribution to the care and reproduction of society in the ‘global village’.

Research is the only way to demystify this new orthodoxy. It is the only tool that can enable CSOs and gender activists to find empirical evidence which can link the daily situation of people, particularly women, to macroeconomic reforms, and assist in developing sound arguments about why reforms of dominant macroeconomic policies are needed. The immediate challenge facing researchers, gender activists, and CSOs committed to gender equality and economic justice is to develop and to stand for their own definition of ‘rigorous’ research: people-centred and gender-sensitive are certainly among the possible criteria.

Zo Randriamaro is the Programme Manager of GERA at TWN-Africa. Initiated in 1996, the GERA Programme aims to increase the participation of African research organisations and women’s groups in research, analysis, and advocacy to transform economic policies from a gender perspective.

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About Gender. Despite impressive human development indicators, Sri Lanka still has a long way to go in fully utilising the skills and talents of its female citizens to move the country’s development and peace processes forward.

By Nelathi De Soysa

Sri Lanka, an island nation of some 17 million people, located in the Indian Ocean, has seen considerable progress in human development since its independence from colonial rule in 1948. Indicators such as life expectancy, literacy, and infant, child and maternal mortality are impressive at a national level, and are directly correlated with historically high government investment in basic health and education.

However, the United Nations Development Programme estimates that the overall level of human poverty in Sri Lanka is substantial (National Human Development [NHD] Report, 1998). In addition to this, the report indicates that although the level of gender development in Sri Lanka is higher than average for an Asian country (69%), gender empowerment (compared with modern standards) is relatively low (20%). This despite its being the first country in the world to produce a female head-of-state.

The purpose of this article is to explore disparities between gender development and empowerment indexes, and to highlight hidden realities affecting women in Sri Lanka - realities which are strongly influenced by social, cultural and economic factors.

To begin with, the ongoing war in the country has had a debilitating effect on women and their status in society. Current information reveals that there are 18,657 war widows in the northern peninsula alone, not counting the growing numbers in the south.

Around 22% of all households in Sri Lanka are female-headed. Many of these women have been thrust into the role of breadwinner with little knowledge of income-earning methods and few coping skills. Moreover, the word withawi (for widow) has connotations of a deplorable and pitiable condition. Social isolation are poverty are inevitable for these women, many of whom are widowed at a young age.

Another factor that does not appear in national statistics is the regional variation in female literacy, which has remained at 87% for several years. Urban and rural disparities still exist, and are not represented in national gender development indexes. Female literacy in urban areas is 91%, while the rural rate is 78%. Furthermore, some statistics, such as the 65% rate of anaemia among women, are not even included in some printed documents.

Education is another matter. Although the percentage of Sri Lankan women entering universities increased from 42% in 1989 to 52% in 1999 (bearing in mind that only 1% of the population has access to university education), women are still under-represented in many disciplines, and tend to find employment at the bottom of the employment pyramid.

When they do find work, it is usually in low-status, low-skilled and low-paying jobs in peasant and plantation agriculture. In addition to this, the female unemployment rate, at 22%, is double that of men in Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, a majority of jobs available to women are in the unorganised and informal sectors, which are outside the purview of labour regulations. An example of this is the growing number of women engaged in the garment industry, who are prone to suffer physical disabilities directly linked to long hours of hard labour.

This same fate awaits the women who represent around 76% of the unskilled migrant labour force working in oil-rich countries and South-East Asian countries. Reports in local newspapers highlight tales of woe where many of these women have suffered untold hardships, including beatings, torture and even death, due to lack of cross-border employment agreements and regulatory practices between national governments.

Besides garment workers and migrant workers, the largest proportion of women in the informal sector is engaged in cultivation. A growing threat to the livelihood security of these women is the increasing mechanisation of agriculture.

As a result, the female whose sense of self-worth was linked to her ability to contribute to the productive process now finds herself left out, and her contribution deemed worthless. This reduces her value within the family and community, and must be considered by governments and NGOs [non-governmental organisations] that may opt to promote mechanisation of agriculture as a means of ‘development’.

Discriminatory practices over land inheritance and custody battles further contribute to the decline in self-worth among women in Sri Lanka. In such cases, males are often given preferential treatment. This despite constitutionally guaranteed laws that grant women equal rights with men.

As for the political empowerment of women, it bears mention that both the president and prime minister of Sri Lanka are women. However, this does not necessarily indicate a high political profile for the average woman, nor does it represent the involvement of women in policy-planning and decision-making at higher levels. A recent survey found that women in Sri Lanka do not aspire to be active in politics, which is amply demonstrated by the fact that few women opt for political careers, and fewer still are elected to Parliament at the regional and provincial levels.

All of these factors indicate that there is a hidden dimension to the image presented in printed statistics - a dimension rarely highlighted and only dimly visible to the observer. Within this context it would be only correct to say that, despite impressive human development indicators, Sri Lanka still has a long way to go in fully utilising the skills and talents of its female citizens to move the country’s development and peace processes forward. - Third World Network Features·

About the writer: Nelathi De Soysa is coordinator of the Strategic Planning Unit for World Vision Sri Lanka.

The above article first appeared in TOGETHER (April-June 2000, ‘Gender development in Sri Lanka: a peek behind the statistics’).

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Globalisation heightening gender inequalities

by Mithre J Sandrasagra
About Gender. New York, 10 Oct 2000 (IPS) - Third World delegates are expressing fears that globalisation is leading to increased inequalities between men and women.

“Despite new initiatives and commitments, the sad reality is that the situation of the world’s women is progressively deteriorating due to globalisation,” Ramachandra Reddy of India told a meeting of the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee of the General Assembly this week.

A number of speakers at the ongoing consultations of the General Assembly have drawn attention to the link between development and the rights of women.

Reddy pointed out that “societies with the greatest gender equality had grown the fastest, and it must be recognised that gender equality is critical to the development process”.

“The link between gender equality and development means that marginalisation of women must be stopped, along with the continued feminisation of poverty,” Reddy added.

Globalisation, a process whereby owners of capital are enabled to move their capital around the globe more quickly and easily, has resulted in the removal of state controls on trade and investment, the disappearance of tariff barriers and the spread of new information and communications technologies.

Andres Franco of Colombia, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group of Latin American and Caribbean nations, said “the opportunities created by the process of globalisation have opened clear avenues for development, but in some cases its benefits have not been equitably distributed, thereby impeding efforts to promote the advancement of women, particularly those living in poverty.”

Reda Bebars of Egypt, stressing that the advancement of women would not be achieved by passing legislation, said that social development on the national scale must be strengthened and a climate conducive to development must be created if the goals set in Beijing [at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women] are to be realised.

Problems of inclusion stem from the fact that women are very differently positioned in relation to the markets in different parts of the world. In certain places, where women are socially excluded from leaving their homes, the challenge is to find ways for women to participate. In other places, the challenge is to create markets which are more friendly to women’s participation.

Ilham Ibrahim Mohamed Ahmed of Sudan condemned the debt burden carried by developing countries, economic sanctions, arbitrary measures and denial of access to new technological developments as obstacles to the growth of women’s rights.

Women remain very much in the minority among Internet users and still face huge imbalances in the ownership, control and regulation of new information technologies.

“The gains of globalisation have not been equitably distributed and the gap between rich and poor countries is widening,” said Zhang Lei of the People’s Republic of China.

The gains of globalisation thus far have for the most part been concentrated in the hands of better-off women with higher levels of education and with greater ownership of resources and access to capital.

“Work in China and Vietnam shows that globalisation has brought new opportunities to young women with familiarity with English in new service sector jobs, but has made a vast number of over-35-year-olds redundant, because they are either in declining industries or have outdated skills,” Swasti Mitter of the UN’s Women Watch Online Working Group on Women’s Economic Inequality said.

Lei emphasised that most of the world’s poor were women and that poverty had become a major impediment to their development.

International commitments such as the Beijing Platform for Action and the Copenhagen Programme of Action addressed some of the problems of globalisation. However, it was pointed out that solutions proposed for women in these documents were largely microeconomic, with particular focus on enabling poor women to obtain access to credit, presumably to begin small businesses.

But many drawbacks have been identified to the use of microcredit as an enabling tool. One study in Bangladesh found that among female borrowers, a majority reported an increase in verbal and physical aggression from male relatives after taking out loans.

Other studies in Bangladesh have drawn attention to the fact that women run the risk of losing control of the loans to male relatives because they are culturally excluded from participating in markets outside their homes to buy inputs and sell outputs, according to the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

According to UNIFEM’s latest biennial report, over the past two decades the process of globalisation has contributed to widening inequality within and among countries, and has been punctuated by economic and social collapse in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and countries in transition (in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union) and by financial crises in Asia and Latin America.

“If a wider range of people are to gain, globalisation must be reshaped so that it is more people-centred instead of profit-centred and more accountable to women,” the UNIFEM report stresses.

“Growth cannot be assumed to automatically ‘trickle down’ to the poor. It can in fact trickle up to create greater inequalities,” Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of UNIFEM, emphasised.

In January 2000, a total of 116 UN members had submitted national action plans to fulfil government commitments to the Beijing Platform for Action. The majority focused on education and training, women in power and decision-making, women and health, and violence against women. However, few plans established comprehensive, time-bound targets for monitoring such progress, and most made no reference to sources of financing for the actions agreed.

“Indicators show that 13 countries - of which Albania, Burundi, Iraq, Liberia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia and Tanzania are a few - are in the same shape or worse off today than they were in 1990, and for almost 40 countries the data is insufficient to say anything, which probably reflects an even worse situation for women,” according to Social Watch, an NGO watchdog system aimed at monitoring the commitments made by governments at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen and the Beijing World Conference on Women.

“Legislation existing on paper is only one side of the story, since rights must be put into practice - millions of women still face a daily struggle for their human dignity,” Eva Latham of the Netherlands lamented.

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Women choosing men

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Who’s choosing whom? We are used to think that it’s men who choose. They usually first start an acquaintance with a woman, ask he for a phone number, call her first, offer to go out together and etc. The most obvious sign, as it seems, that it’s a woman who waits for a man to make her a proposal. At that is the order verified by ages.

Still the scientists claim that the situation can be a little different in the reality. They say that the woman makes her choice more carefully and attentively than a man. She’s more capricious and fastidious while searching for a partner. A woman looks first at man’s social status, his financial affairs. She need not a person to watch and admire but a partner to rely on. Men as everybody knows it love with the eyes. So the beauty and the sexuality of a woman is more important for. Of course later he will have to deal with her character but he isn’t looking that far while a woman is from the beginning orientating on a long-lasting relationships. By the way there’s also an opinion that women are better socially adapted than men.

Both men and men claim that the character of a potential partner is more important for them than the appearance, but on the first date men still get attracted with the beauty of women while women are trying to find out who that man is really are.

The explanation of this lays in the evolutionary history. Women were risking much more when choosing a partner and had to be more attentive making her choice. After having sex man could always get up and leave and a woman could get pregnant. So a woman is historically orientated on a choosing a man to build a family with. Nowadays the situation is of course quite different, women are more independent and the process of conception is put under control but the biological nature of the humans is progressing slower than their socials one so the instincts still play a considerable role in our lives. So a woman on a first date probably isn’t searching for a husband or any serious relations at all, but unconsciously she’s valuing any man she sees if he is valid for creating a family.

Men pay much more attention to the appearance of a woman and if she is beautiful they forget about their claims that the character of a partner is more important for them at all. The first impression from the appearance of a woman pushes away any of such thoughts as if she will be a good wife or even a girlfriend, what’s her social status and etc.

So the men are only forming a list of a candidates for a woman but she’s always the one who’s saying the final word and making a decision. Otherwise when a man likes a woman he offers himself to her as a potential partner and she sees if he’s really the one she needs.

Of course pretty and charming women have longer list of candidates and wider field for choosing and probably more problems with doing it.
By the way the psychologists who work on this theory can’t say whether the further development of the relationships depends on a woman’s choices and decisions. Probably a little later when a man starts thinking with his head they both start playing the equal parts in the further relations.
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