Women's rights are human rights, too


We shouldn't allow International Women's Day to pass without a comment on the biggest threat to women in modern history — the rise of Islamic extremism. Even as President Obama calls for more educational opportunities for women, the Islamic State is issuing a "manifesto" outlining what it sees as the proper role of women.

"It is considered legitimate for a girl to be married at the age of nine," the manifesto says. "Most pure girls will be married by sixteen or seventeen, while they are still young and active."

The manifesto does support education for girls — but only religious education in the home.

"Yes, we say ‘stay in your houses,' but this does not mean, in any way, that we support illiteracy, backwardness or ignorance," the manifesto says. "Rather, we just support the distinction between working — that which involves a woman leaving the house — and studying, as it was ordained she should do."

Higher education of any kind for women is a Western scourge, the Islamic State says.

"Because of this, a woman studies these worthless worldly sciences in the farthest mountains and the deepest valleys," the manifesto contends. "She travels, intent upon learning Western lifestyle and sitting in the midst of another culture, to study the brain cells of crows, grains of sand and the arteries of fish!"

This is important because in the West, we tend to lose perspective. "Social justice warriors" will focus on "micro-aggressions" such as men taking up too much room on public transportation, rather than actual aggressions, such as the targeting of women who simply seek an education. Ask Malala Yousafzai which is more important.

Here's an example. Last year, Christine Lagarde — the head of the International Monetary Fund — ran afoul of feminists at Smith College. One of the world's most powerful and accomplished women did this by representing — the IMF.

"International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde withdrew as Smith College's commencement speaker ... following a petition by students angry about her upcoming appearance," Time magazine reported. "In the petition, students at the women's college said they took issue with her role at the IMF."

The petition read, "The IMF has been a primary culprit in the failed developmental policies implanted in some of the world's poorest countries. This has led directly to the strengthening of imperialist and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide."

It takes a tightly sheltered, sincerely ignorant worldview to come up with that claim. The fact is that the more Western a society is, the more empowered its women are.

The dearth of women's rights in the Middle East is coming back to haunt Hillary Clinton.

"As Mrs. Clinton commemorates her 1995 women's rights speech in Beijing in back-to-back events in New York, she finds herself under attack for her family foundation's acceptance of millions of dollars in donations from Middle Eastern countries known for violence against women and for denying them many basic freedoms," the New York Times wrote on Monday.

Women's rights are important.

That's why International Women's Day deserves recognition.

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