In today’s time one would automatically assume that everyone over a certain age, generally speaking, has the right to vote (depending on what country one resides in). Despite living in a modern society, there are many countries across the globe that still deny females the right to vote. In places such as Vatican City and Saudi Arabia women are deprived of this simple liberty. Looking at this issue from a Canadian perspective, we live in an emancipated era, it is utterly poignant that women who are considered to be equal counterparts to men are not eligible to have such a basic right.
Many people across the world view Vatican City and Saudi Arabia to be “holy places,” where one would think gender equality is a key component of life. Gender equality cannot be reached if there are laws in tact that state only certain portion of the public has the right to elect a political leader while another group is far from putting in their input. The election held in Vatican City is the Papal Conclave, in which the pope is elected by the College of Cardinals, a special group of males, “who by definition are male priests” that come in assistance to the elected pope in decision making (CBC News 2005). Women are not granted access to the cardinals, therefore being denied of having the right to vote.
Saudi Arabia follows laws of Islam which is preceded in the Qur’an, this holy book implies that men are superior to women, the direct translation states “men are in charge of women” (4:34). The monarchy in Saudi Arabia acts in accordance to the Qur’an repressing the basic civil rights of women (Arab News 2012). The women of Saudi Arabia are deprived of many liberties, one of them being the right to vote. They do not have the privilege of electing an official to represent them nor are they allowed to run for office (Arab News 2012).
In response to this situation, John Finnis would argue that a healthy community needs a common code of conduct that orders and coordinates interaction to achieve a common good, how can a community be healthy if both sexes are not considered to be equal. Finnis would argue that women being denied the right to vote “clearly violates the requirement that law serve the common good of all people” (Pavlich, 2011). In relation to voting, Finnis would view this issue to be suppressing many forms of human flourishing, as it also violates his fifth value of sociability and friendship which requires a ‘unity of common action’ (1980). The deprivation of such rights only for women does not serve the “common good” of all people because no good is being done for women. Without voting rights human life will not flourish; “human life cannot flourish without a community, led by an authority who pursues the interests of a common good” in which common goods refers to the interests of all people in a society (Pavlich 2011). Pavlich says that if a law is against the common good, “it forfeits a moral right to govern its subjects” because justice is “always about securing and nurturing that common good” which in this case is the liberty of voting (2011). One could also argue that Finnis’ fourth form of human flourishment ‘aesthetic experience’ is lost for women because they don’t have the privilege of electing a leader. It is quite evident that gender should not be an obstacle in voting, as one has the right to elect an official in their legislation. The question to ask is, when will these nations start treating women equally by giving them a simple civil liberty such as voting?
Alnowaiser, K. (2012). Saudi women urgently need equal rights. Arab News. Retrieved September 20, 2012 from http://www.arabnews.com/columns/%E2%80%8Bsaudi-women-urgently-need-equal-rights
Finnis, J. (1980). Natural Law and Natural Rights. New York: Clarendon Press.
Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. New York: Oxford University Press. 1-39.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/pope/electing_qanda.html (Retrieved September 20, 2012)
http://quran.com/4 (Retrieved September 20, 2012)