There has been a lot of discussion on social media recently on feminism touching on issues such as who is a feminist, why people should be feminists and why people should not be feminists. While I have strong opinions on feminism, and identify as a feminist, it is not my intent to delve into some of these debates here. I am more concerned about equity.
Equity seems to be the issue here. Why is the fact that women are demanding for equity eliciting such strong opinions? This should confirm what we already know; we still have a long way to go to achieve equality. This issue not only affects women but also men and future generations.
Equity means different things to different people; these different perceptions and attitudes that people hold determine how they react to the term equity especially when it is used in association with women. Equity does not mean just treating everyone the same. On the contrary it means according everyone equal opportunity and freedoms to live to their full capacity regardless of gender, creed or race.
There are emerging discussions currently that seem to argue that women are privileged at the expense of men. While it is true that focus has shifted from the boychild to the girlchild, with visible outcomes that we can address in a different piece, to cry that women are privileged is failing to look at the issue critically. Is it privilege when a girl manages to go through primary school, secondary school and university while shouldering other responsibilities and in extreme cases surviving and escaping forced marriages? Is it privilege when women still suffer from domestic violence? While we have made tremendous progress in giving women equal chances at the societal level they continue to face insurmountable challenges at the household level.
It can’t be privilege. Women who have equal rights as human beings were not allowed to exercise these rights for a long period of time. They had to fight for their rightful position as human beings in the society. Had women started at the same level as men in terms of access to opportunities, freedom to exercise their rights then we would come to the conclusion that women are privileged.
As it stands, on one hand women are rising up and excelling in different ways in different fields and on the other hand there are women who are still facing many challenges some of them based on cultural issues. The question that we should ask therefore is whether or not it is wrong for women to want more. Is it wrong for other women to fight for those women whose voices are still muffled? The answer is no! In any case, women should shoot for the very best. They should work hard in all areas and speak up and let their voices be heard especially when they are faced with injustices.
This is for all the women out there. It is okay to want more in life and to work hard for it. It is okay to question injustices and to demand for social justice. It is okay to stand up and fight for women who are still disenfranchised. It is okay to fight for a world where all people are given equal access to opportunities, freedoms and rights as human beings and if this makes you a feminist then that is okay too.