This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stark Contrasts in Gender Equity

Out of Spain this week comes news that the government may change the pattern of naming children, which has historically listed the father's name first, followed by the mother's name, but with the caveat that the father's name was "more important."

Spaniards have two surnames, and under current law for registering babies, either the father's or the mother's can come first. Traditionally, however, it is the dad's and in cases of disagreement among the parents, the father's name automatically takes priority.
But under a bill presented to Parliament, if a couple does not specify an order or cannot agree on one, a child's last names would be assigned in alphabetical order.
"I think this is good and also much more egalitarian," Jose Antonio Alonso, a Socialist Party spokesman in the lower chamber of Parliament, said Thursday.
To the east, in Afghanistan, however, life for women continues to be vastly unequal to men, and some women see attempting suicide by burning themselves as the only way out.
Even the poorest families in Afghanistan have matches and cooking fuel. The combination usually sustains life. But it also can be the makings of a horrifying escape: from poverty, from forced marriages, from the abuse and despondency that can be the fate of Afghan women.
It is shameful here to admit to troubles at home, and mental illness often goes undiagnosed or untreated. Ms. Zada, the hospital staff said, probably suffered from depression. The choices for Afghan women are extraordinarily restricted: Their family is their fate. There is little chance for education, little choice about whom a woman marries, no choice at all about her role in her own house. Her primary job is to serve her husband’s family. Outside that world, she is an outcast.

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