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Feminism has become a touchy subject over the past couple of years, with many people saying that it’s only an issue in first world countries and not the third world countries in Africa and Asia, where there are plenty of other issues to worry about instead. However, this isn’t true! Feminism is still an important issue, no matter where you live in the world, as long as there are still gender inequalities in your society.
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What is Feminism?
Simply put, feminism is a social and political movement that seeks equal rights for women. For example, some definitions include ending discrimination against women in all spheres of life—employment, education, family matters, and health. Third-world feminism argues that it’s both inappropriate and counterproductive to dismiss third-world feminist issues because they don’t align with first-world feminist concerns. In fact, not only is feminism relevant to third-world issues but also it may be essential for ensuring that those living in developing nations get a fair shake in their own country. The typical Western view ignores cultural traditions which might seem misogynistic by Western standards but are nonetheless integral to communities in developing nations.
How are Women Treated in Developed Countries?
In today’s globalized society, where we can communicate with people from all over, regardless of their country or even economic status, one may think that feminism has nothing to do with third-world countries. But that is not entirely true. In developed countries like Australia, women are still paid less than men for doing the same job. They are also subject to sexist remarks and jokes daily in workplaces and schools. That makes them feel inadequate and unconfident about themselves which significantly impacts their performance in life and work. A study showed that when they see other women doing well at work they perform better too because they suddenly don’t feel inferior anymore. If we look around us, many female CEOs and leaders have broken through glass ceilings by sheer hard work and determination. The most important thing here is that it wasn’t given to them by anyone; it was earned by their efforts. If you look at third world countries, such as India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh, women are not given equal opportunities as men in any field including education or jobs. Women cannot go out alone after dark without being harassed by some random guy on the street; if they get raped then it becomes a major issue for everyone around them; if they want to pursue higher education then their parents object saying it’s just not done! And so on... So what should be done?
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Feminist Issues Remain in Developed Countries
Throughout third-world countries, women have less access to education and are at a higher risk for sexual and domestic violence. However, while these conditions might seem like severe issues in our eyes, they pale in comparison to what women face in developed countries. In America alone, 1 out of every 5 women has been sexually assaulted. This rate is even higher for college students where 20% of college females will be victims of rape or attempted rape over their four years on campus; that’s a full 5% increase from previous decades. It’s hard to imagine how bad things must be if things are getting better can feel like such an understatement. The fact is, it’s not just third-world countries who need feminism—it’s all of us.
Women can Lead Feminist Movements in Both Developed and Developing Countries
Women in developed countries have certainly led movements that challenge sexism and gender roles, but it’s also crucial to remember that women living in developing nations are not untouched by feminism. Women in third-world counties often face issues like sex trafficking, honor killings, and female genital mutilation. On top of that, third-world countries tend to be more unequal when it comes to gender relations—and these inequalities directly impact a woman’s ability to do everything from buying groceries safely to applying for an apartment lease. For feminism to truly succeed globally, it needs to address all forms of oppression—and not just those that result from gender inequality. Third-world feminists deserve credit for challenging oppressive norms even if they don’t use terms like feminist or women's rights. Just because you aren't fighting under a label doesn't mean you aren't fighting at all. It takes bravery to speak out against norms in your community or country, regardless of whether you're calling yourself a feminist or not. Let's celebrate third-world feminists for standing up for what they believe is right instead of making them feel bad about not using the right words. After all, our efforts are united as one: we want to live in societies where people respect each other based on their humanity rather than their genders.
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Women Leaders Need to be Supported by All Genders
It’s unfortunate, but some cultures still look down on women in leadership roles. Third-world countries must work to unseat these biased views. Female leaders are essential to thriving societies—not just because they have ideas and a unique perspective, but also because their presence encourages more women and men to get involved in civic issues. By developing female leaders throughout society, nations can improve economic development, raise health standards and set a positive example for other nations around them. The first step is for men everywhere to make it clear that they support women’s rights both at home and at work—and will stand up against anyone who says otherwise.
If We Don't Help, Women's Rights May Regress Under New Leadership
In some developing and emerging nations, women are slowly gaining rights that will one day allow them to move from third-world status into first. One organization that has worked hard for years to improve conditions for women in these societies is Equality Now. Founded in 1992 by a group of attorneys, Equality Now is a non-profit human rights organization working to protect and promote human rights around the world by partnering with local grass-roots groups in underdeveloped areas. Its mission is to protect and promote the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of girls and women. And many say it's making great strides. But there's still much work to be done. So if you're interested in helping, consider donating or volunteering with organizations like Equality Now. If we don't help third-world countries progress economically and socially, they may regress into third-world status when their new leadership takes over.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Ghulam Nabi Memon