One of the first books I ever received was the Dr Seuss classic, “Oh, The Places That You’ll Go”. I’m sure many of you remember it – the classic, multi-coloured swirls, striped and fluffy trees in the staple at many local libraries. Years later and on the brink of commencing the next chapter of my life, the message has stuck. I often reflect upon the world of possibilities that are open to me and the many opportunities I hope to be a part of. We have been given access to education and the encouragement to pursue our dreams. Flashback to October 2012, when Malala Yousafzai was shot when boarding a bus to attend school. With that fateful bullet, women’s rights was brought to the forefront of media coverage – and only amplified by the public, celebrity support from the likes of Emma Watson at the UN, First Lady Michelle Obama and actor Patrick Stewart.
Around the world, women and girls continue to face socially constructed obstacles that hinder their path to success. Whether it be political regimes, religious or cultural beliefs or the cemented concept of “tradition”, the power of girls is being limited. That’s one entire gender being held back in society.
You might think “Oh, but everything is fine here”, “none of this affects me” or “feminism is just just a bunch of angry, man-hating chicks”. And to that I say, a) that’s because we’re fortunate and privileged enough to be here, b) directly, perhaps not, but the ingrained perceptions and stereotypes weaken us all and c) that’s just straight up wrong.
What is this hesitation to associate oneself with feminism? That is one thing I hope to see change, and to change soon. Feminism calls for the empowerment of women and men in order to promote equality between the sexes. Due to the actions and beliefs of few extremists, there are common misconceptions regarding feminism, which overpowers the underlying message of equality regardless of gender. The first step towards equality is recognizing the importance of unity amongst its supporters. Feminism itself is but a name, but the movement behind it is what will help us as a global society become more accepting and fair towards men and women equally. Many people consider this fight to be outdated – but the truth of the matter is that there is still so much more that can be done.
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