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The evolution of life on earth determined the existence of two sexes, and since then males and females have combined their genes in order to reproduce. But the female sex often have to do almost all the work, and in addition are, mistakenly, referred to as the “weaker sex”. Different animals have adopted different strategies in relations between males and females, but the common denominator is that both want to pass on their genes, and have the healthiest possible children. The difference lies in the fact that the males have small, abundant sexual cells, which are produced continuously. The females, on the other hand, possess the valuable, scarce and enormous ovules.
When the female in question is a woman, things should be different, and yet in the majority of the world they quite simply aren’t. In almost all cultures, women have always been oppressed in one way or another. In male hominids, natural selection favoured the characteristics of a fighter and protector, making them big and strong, while in females the emphasis was on cooperation and child rearing.
Discrimination against women is, unfortunately, one of the few features that virtually all the cultures of the world have in common. The possessors of the valuable, scarce ovules end up being lovers, wives, mothers, educators, cooks, gatherers, artisans and, all too often, martyrs.
In humans inequalities between female and male occur every day in many parts of the world. The Ekkor are a people who live from subsistence agriculture, like so many others in the world. From the early hours of the morning, the only people working are the women. The majority of the human population of the world is rural and poor, but they have another thing in common: the women not only play the role of mothers, but also carry out the hardest work.
Equality between men and women can only be achieved if women are, in part at least, freed from their biological burden, on the basis of cultural solidarity.
But often, to achieve this, they have to fight against very deep-rooted customs and cultures. The most terrible example of this is the ablation of the clitoris, a barbarous mutilation that affects over seventy million women throughout Africa.
Nonetheless, the biological system was well designed, the family functioned as a social unit and human beings colonised the entire planet. What strategies did other animal species adopt?
Each species has different systems and strategies when it comes to reproduce and raise their young. In some cases both females and males actively involved in courtship and mate for life, an example is the ostriches and African dic-dics.
In other cases the female looks the best genetics for their young and are dedicated to copulate with various and numerous males “strategy of the virile male” completely unconcerned care of them. These are, among others, rhinoceros and emus, a bird whose males are responsible for incubating the eggs. Finally elephants case, the females are responsible for maintaining the family unit. But the fact that some female mammals spend so much time taking care of their young means that during this period they do not mate with the males. And some of them may lose patience and give into the temptation to kill the young, so the mother will again come into heat, this happens with grizzly bears. The biological differences between male and female mammals can very clearly be seen in one of the most common reproductive strategies: the harem (The male is the only one authorised to copulate with all the females of his herd)
All this conflict between the sexes, all this confusion and injustice, stems from a biological reality which in its time functioned, so successfully in fact that it made us the dominant species on the planet. The key lies in our children, the care of whom prevents many women in the third world from being able to choose their own destinies, burdened by one pregnancy after another. Some 200 million women become pregnant every year; half of all births are unplanned, and a quarter unwanted.
Family planning translates into happier woman, healthier children and a more just world. Being the custodians of life should not be allowed to become a biological curse. After all, a mother is, first and foremost, a woman.
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