Editor’s Perspective: On feminism and changing perceptions
“The higher you go, the fewer women there are,” – Wangari Maathai.
A university lecturer once asked me and a group of my female peers how many of us were feminists. One hand of the 12 present went up. That was just seven years ago; 118 years after women got the vote, 92 years after women were allowed to stand for parliament and 78 years after the first woman was elected into parliament.
Somewhere between the brave and radical women’s rights campaigners of the late 1800s and post 1980s, it seems to have become uncool to be a feminist.
Feminism by definition is simply the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.
Yet, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Gender Gap Report, gender parity is still more than 200 years away.
Men and women are different. We have different biological abilities, different hormones and we look – for the most part – different. There are slightly more women in the world than men – 52 percent of the population are women. And yet, most of the positions of power are occupied by men. In quite a literal sense, men rule the world.
This made sense 1000 years ago when physical strength was one of the key determinants of survival. But we live in a very different world now, one where creativity, intelligence and innovation are equal determinants of success.
Earlier this month we celebrated International Women’s Day. It’s one day a year where we reflect on the economic, political and social achievements of women. And, while it may not be ‘cool’ to identify as a feminist, as my university lecturer pointed out that day, why wouldn’t you?