Do you know what feminism means? If you Google it, or look it up in a dictionary, it is defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.”
It’s a pretty straight-forward definition — women should have the same rights and opportunities as men to make their own decisions on who they are and what they want to be. At its core, the women’s rights movement is for gender equality.
The feminist movement is far from new. Beginning in 1848, it has seen support rise and fall. It took until 1920 for women to get the right to vote, and the struggle for the Equal Rights Amendment was process decades in the making. More recently, several world events, business people and celebrities have brought renewed attention to the movement.
• Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani woman, shared the Nobel Prize for her support of education for girls. This was a strong statement coming after the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by Nigerian terrorists.
• Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, has received a lot of attention for pointing out the lack of women in positions of power in business and government.
• Emma Watson has been named a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador. She is lending her voice to support gender equality through the HeForShe campaign.
• President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, supporting equal pay for women.
Why it matters
Why does the feminist movement matter? Because we don’t have gender equality.
Did you know that the U.S. government pushed for a gender rights platform in the new Iraqi Constitution and the United States does not have one itself?
We have seen changes. Women are currently earning the majority of degrees in our country and women-owned businesses are thriving. But women still earn less than men and are not equally represented in higher positions in business and government.
Women make up just over half of our population. Economically, 41 percent of women earn the primary income in their homes. Not having the same economic opportunity impacts our overall economy as well as the individual household.
The strict gender roles of our past have broadened, and studies have shown that men, women and children benefit from a more equal model. Boys and girls benefit from strong male and female role models. Check out this TED talk on why everyone should be a feminist.
We should recognize the progress that has been made, but the current feminist movement also recognizes that there is still more to do.