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The role of women in community development can be crucial to the health of a society. According to some sociologists, women make many of the decisions that determine a household's participation in the community, including healthcare, educational, and cultural decisions. In parts of the world where women's rights are still developing, the role of women in the development of a community can be the key to reducing gender inequality, providing for the needs of women and families, and ending centuries of discrimination against women.
Though the days where women stayed home and cared for the children are largely vanished from Western society, women still have a significant role in making household decisions. In many families, women often decide where the family will shop, what schools and activities children will attend, and the extent to which the family will participate in community events. As a powerful decision-making force, women are often well acquainted with the pros and cons of their community, and may be in a good position to analyze how best to improve society. As members of community development organizations such as outreach programs, parent-teacher associations, cultural societies, and city planning boards, women can use the knowledge they garner from household decisions to make a substantive contribution to the future of their city or town.
Some sociologists also claim that the way women process information, prioritize, and plan, may be highly beneficial to community development. In general, women may be likely to consider community development as a holistic process, in which the goal is the improvement of society for everyone. Furthermore, some studies suggest that many women work better as collaborators and teammates, making them ideal candidates for community organizations in which decisions must be made together. While these tendencies are far from universal, increasing the role of women in community development can lead to more cooperative organizations that seek to improve life for all citizens.
In areas of the world where gender inequality pervades, the role of women in community development may be even more important. When women can be involved in the issues of women’s education, rape and domestic violence prevention, and economic opportunities for women, they stand a greater chance of reducing inequality and promoting a fair society. In communities where the role of women has been traditionally marginalized, it may take strong, vocal, and persistent female participation to insist that these issues be addressed for the betterment of society.
In some regions, it may be quite dangerous for local women to risk active participation in community development. As the world moves closer to becoming a global community, the existence of strong gender inequality makes the role of women in community development even more critical. By using the power of women in community development to improve gender sensitivity overall, women can help shed light on glaring inequalities, and try to find ways to better the lives of other women in the global community. By getting involved in international community organizations, women can pull the focus onto the plight of women in areas where they are not permitted to have a voice, and make crucial strides toward eliminating gender inequality around the globe.
Women have made so many positive changes in community development, from improving schools to advancing medical services to fighting for women's equal rights. Many of the efforts of every-day women have led to lasting, positive changes in American society.