Why We Need Feminism?
Why do we need feminism across the world? Why do we need feminism in India? The topic of feminism is controversial for reasons that are founded in fear and misunderstanding. Feminism is grounded in the belief of equality of all, irrespective of gender identity. To understand feminism in today’s world, it is important to understand the opposition behind it. Many — both men and women — oppose feminism for several reasons, many of which are rooted in the fear of change. Some are unwilling to face the changes in tradition, culture, and power dynamics that are sure to follow an equality-based movement. Others are concerned about a supposed “feminist takeover”, through which women are planning to overthrow and dominate men. In reality, the goal of the movement is equality, which does not yet exist anywhere in today’s world, despite arguments otherwise.
The media portrayal of feminism contributes to its stigmatized image. This can be credited to both traditional and social media. Media has painted the feminist as a raging, man-hating woman. She is likely conventionally unattractive, overly sensitive, and perhaps she identifies as a lesbian. She focuses on fruitless protests and trivial things such as bra-less rights. Unfortunately, this cultivated image is not unexpected. Society has proven time and time again to reject assertive, trailblazing women. In this case, the media contributes to the derailment by playing up on society’s misogynistic, homophobic ideals. In reality, there is no unidimensionality to feminists or the feminist movement. Feminists are made up of people of all genders, of all sexualities, of all classes. But even if feminists are angry, are gay, what is wrong with that? Why is it wrong to strive for equality? Given the injustices that women continue to face, it should be no surprise that many are willing to fight for change.
Today, violence against women is still a pressing issue across the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, about 137 women are killed by either intimate partners or family members across the world every day. It is estimated that almost 60% of all female homicides are committed by those who are close to the victim. In India, for instance, dowry-related deaths account for 40 to 50% of female homicides in the country. Another shocking statistic shows that as of 2016, four cases of rape are reported in the nation every hour. A survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation places India at first place for the most dangerous country for women on the basis of criteria including healthcare, economic resources, cultural and traditional practices, violence (both sexual and non-sexual), female foeticide and infanticide, and human trafficking. India contains the highest number of girls that are married before the age of 18, as over 25% of all women are married underaged despite laws forbidding this practice. Therefore, there is an unquestionable need for feminism in India for the sake of women’s safety.
Violence against women of the LGBTQ+ community is still alarmingly prevalent across the world with women facing increased rates of sexual and physical violence compared to their heterosexual counterparts. It is important to note that all forms of violence against women are vastly underreported worldwide, and thus, it is likely that any statistics are significantly higher in reality.
Significant disparities also exist regarding education. According to the United Nations, two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population is comprised of women. Social and gender-related factors such as poverty, child marriage, belonging to a minority group, and violence play significant roles in determining girls’ access to education. Due to reasons such as these, the literacy rate of women in India is about 65%, trailing behind the 82% that men hold. Both the social and economic implications of this fact make it a cause that deserves attention from a variety of forces, including society and the government. Movements such as feminism draw attention to such injustices and take action to address them.
Women also face tremendous discrimination in the workplace worldwide. For example, the gender pay gap in India is reported to stand at 19% on average, with the percentage increasing as the skill level of the job rises. Sources such as Oxfam urge the world to look at the amount of unpaid work that women do, the addition of which causes the gender wage gap in India to rise to 34%. It is important to note that additional factors such as race and caste play a role in increasing the wage gap as well. Statistics about the global economic gender gap paint a grim picture. The World Economic Forum predicts that with the current rate of progress, it will take 202 years to close this gap. The rewards of closing the gap promptly are vast, both for women, society, and the economy as a whole. It is estimated that the elimination of the participation and wage gap in the labor market would result in the addition of $28 trillion (USD) to the world economy within just a few years.
Feminism has proved itself instrumental to society through a variety of measures. Through this movement, voting rights were secured for women in many countries across the world, as was greater access to education and an increased level of bodily autonomy. Recent movements such as #MeToo brought the conversation about sexual harassment and assault to the mainstream, serving as a wakeup call for not only the entertainment industry, but other industries worldwide. This in turn led to tangible reformations in many workplaces in the form of social and policy change. Expanded attention on intersectional feminism, in addition, has increased the inclusivity of the movement, taking into account imperative factors such as race, religion, sexuality, and caste.
Feminism is thus a vitally important movement, as it promotes the equality and wellbeing of all people throughout every aspect of society.