In the past, people believed that women were only meant to work in the domestic sphere and only men were allowed to have a public life. Women were not allowed the right to own property, the right to speak up, to study, to have a social life, to work. Women were confined in a sphere where their representation was almost zero. Even when they were represented, there were only represented by men. They were expected to cook, clean, give birth, take care of their children.
However, as times changed and society evolved, women started realizing how important their rights were, how important their respect was and how important their choice to practice whatever they wanted was. Feminism is the most successful movements of the 20th century. It is an ideology that fights for political, economic and socials rights of women. It is based on the idea that men and women are equal, and there should be no gender bias. Some people have a misconception of what it actually means—assuming it to be a mere pathway to show that women are superior to men. However, the idea of feminine is simple—to promote justice and equality between both the genders, to enable a woman to be at an equal ground to that of a man. It looks forward to abolish inequality, oppression and injustice towards women. These problems have been persistent for a long time now.
The Indian constitution provides women with the following rights—right to equality, right property, right to freedom, right to education and right to protection from exploitation. There are special laws to safeguard these interests of women and in the social field, there are laws that relate to marriage including mate selection, age of marriage, divorce, dowry, alimony, remarriage and so on. There are laws protecting the adoption of children and abortion too. The economic rights include—the right to property or inheritance, equal wages, maternity benefits, job security. The political rights include—female enfranchisement and eligibility for the legislature.
But, how many women are actually aware of these rights? Even if they are, are they actually able to exercise these rights? The feminist movement has been campaigned for the protection of girl children and women from sexual harassment, rape and violence. These campaigns and feminist activism have helped improve several areas within the society. These rights have brought a structural and cultural change which has resulted in equal opportunities in education, employment and political participation.
There are still certain individuals who are in complete denial of these rights. Such a denial can be accounted to low intellectual ability, people who suffer from immaturity, depression, frustration, people who are alcoholics, or those who have unrealistic expectations from women and the ones who want women to remain inferior and passive. One can also identify men who deny these kinds of rights. That is majorly because of the inferiority complex which they harbour. Another reason includes a personality disorder. Also, people who are possessive and have a dominating nature, people who have been victims of violence in their childhood and have faced several stressful situations in their family structures also deny these rights.
There are various examples of feminism. When Columbia was recovering from the civil war in which 220000 people were killed and had a high rate of sexual and domestic violence, the Colombian women became part of the peace process. Eventually, by the end of the war, women began participating in the transitional justice and in promoting rural property rights for women.
Women in Iran have faced the legal barriers that affected their domestic and professional life as they had severe restrictions imposed on them. They were even excluded from certain jobs. For these women, speaking out on gender discrimination could have undeniably led to imprisonment. After going through these hurdles, women have succeeded in spheres like education. They launched a campaign called ‘one million signatures’ to introduce changes to the law.
In Malaysia, a network of women had set up an organization called ‘Sisters in Islam’ to promote the idea that even Islam promotes feminism and that the patriarchal behavior within the communities and countries were misreading. Sisters in Islam worked with Islamic scholars to oppose gender based injustice and to produce materials that make the links between Islam and global human right standards and norms very clear.
In Zambia, women are more likely to own a business than men. Female entrepreneurs are coming to force in all sectors including the male dominating industries such as mining.It is important to realize that this issue is not just for women. Men, women, as well as transgender suffer from this unequal patriarchal society. While women bear the violence, men are also confined to strict social and gender roles. Men who are victims of sexual assaults are not even given a voice to report such crimes. They are expected to suffer in silence as the idea that a man cannot suffer becomes evident. In conclusion, feminism is not simply just a new idea, many people do not really know much about this. It is necessary for every citizen to consider these feminist values and to work towards creating a more equal society for all individuals.
Picture Credits : rosie.org