Yesterday, the 8th of March, was International Women’s Day. Millions of women (and men!) across the world, tweeted, marched, protested, strike and talked about women’s rights and gender equality. However, some people are still debating whether feminism is necessary, and whether all or some of the feminist claims are actually valid. I believe this comes from a complete misunderstanding of feminism.
What is feminism?
Feminism, like any other political ideology, or social movement is difficult to define and probably every feminist will have a different view on it. However, one could define it as the advocacy for women’s rights with the goal of achieving equality between men and women, social, political and economical.
Several feminist ideologies and movements have developed over the years including Liberal feminism, Marxist feminism, Black feminism, Islamic feminism or Post modern feminism, among others. All these ideologies focus on different aspects of the feminist theory and develop their own narrative. Although, they obviously have differences, they have a common ground: the idea of sisterhood among women, campaigning for women’s equality including the right of women to vote, to work and have equal pay, to hold public office, to access education, to have maternity rights, and to fight against sexual violence, harassment and domestic violence.
The need for International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is necessary to remind us of the situation of many women and pay attention to the reality of our countries. A reality that includes women that have dedicated their lives to bring up their children, to take care of their home, their parents, their parents -in-law, and when they get a divorce, they get nothing and have to claim benefits or even become homeless. Survivors of domestic violence or rape are have to pay from their pockets thousands of pounds on therapies because our system has an average waiting list of 6 months to see someone with GAD, PTSD or depression , while seeing how the perpetrators are actually living for free on our jails and getting the required medical attention. There is still a gender pay gap, and women continue to get pay less for doing exactly the same job. Women are still sexually harassed on the streets daily and speaking out about it seems to still be shameful. We are still misrepresented in public office and a majority of senior level jobs are still male dominated, even thought the number of women in higher education outnumbers the number of men.
Yesterday was a day of celebration of the incredible achievements of women through history, from the right to vote, to abortion. It was also a celebration of the enormous work that women do daily: workers, carers, mothers.. but also a reminder that we are going to continue fighting for women’s equality, for a world that is fairer for everyone and in which women have the social, political and economical status they deserve. Hopefully one day, International Women’s Day will be a day to just celebrate and not to protest to claim our rights, those rights that should be inherent to us. Until then, the struggle continues.