Why Fight? An Examination of International Feminism

Image: The Independent

Image: The Independent

Feminism.  The word that makes some sneer in disgust of the “man-hating” extremists, while others proudly debate and celebrate the rights of women.  But, what does feminism actually mean?  Today, we will examine the many forms of the movement on each of the seven continents in order to fully grasp the entire reality of the subject.

American feminists have played a very prominent role in modern politics & activism in their country, and it’s easy to see why.  After staging the largest single-day protest in the nation’s history, the Women’s March Network(WME) has continued to be a large proponent of women’s rights and equality movement.  The WME recently published it’s 2019 “Women’s Agenda”, a list of their policy priorities from January 2019 through January 2021.  The list includes causes such as “Ending Violence Against Women & Femmes”, “Reproductive Rights & Justice”, and “LGBTQIA+ Rights”.

Paraguayan women have taken great strides towards equality, although there is still much room for improvement.  Within the past two years, they have made femicide and obstetric violence illegal, and introduced four separate initiatives to empower women in government & eliminate sex-based discrimination.  But, women still are only paid 71 cents for every dollar a man makes, and are much less economically active.

Despite harsh treatment by the socialist government, the feminist movement has flourished in China.  One of the most notable events in recent Chinese feminist history is the arrest of the “Feminist Five”, a group of five female activists jailed(and subsequently released) for planning to distribute stickers against sexual assault on subways & buses. Since then, the government has taken targeted and direct action to take down the feminist movement, calling it the work of “Western hostile forces” in an attempt to villainize the campaign.  Nevertheless, the women’s rights movement has grown to number in the thousands, and have three main demands: “to make visible the care work that women do and to redistribute it; equal opportunity of employment for women and men, and...the right for every woman to have or not to have children”.

In Rwanda, feminists have drastically changed the face of the nation. Boasting the largest share of females in their national government in the world, their legislature has taken revolutionary new steps to prevent sexual violence, including banning marital rape, recognizing that rape is a form of perpetrating genocide, and creating legal exemptions to laws in order to allow for victims of rape to gain access to an abortion.  The country has been declared the best nation in Africa to be a woman by the Global Competitiveness Report and has the fifth smallest pay gap in the world.

 French feminism is certainly one of the most(if not the most) interesting and unique movements in this article.  In their national language, every profession(i.e “un prof” translating to “a teacher”) has a gender, and grammatically when one man is in a group of one hundred women the entire group would be referred to with a masculine plural pronoun, gender is one of the most central parts of the French everyday life.  While this may not seem to be a critical issue, proponents of a movement to make adjectives and professions gender fluid (i.e “un/e prof, with the “e” showing feminine gender identity) claim that “Telling children the masculine form wins over the feminine cannot contribute to shaping egalitarian minds”. The leading authority on the French language, the Academie Française, recently backed down to the demands of the activists.

Australia has been labeled one of Global Citizen’s “Top 10 Feminist Countries”, and it’s easy to see why. In a country where around three in four women work but still only make 86% of what their male counterparts do, the need for a women’s rights movement is clear.  Currently, the Equality Rights Alliance, a leading organization in the movement for gender equality in the nation, advocates for “gender equality, women’s leadership and government policy responses that support women’s diversity”.

Feminist glaciology is not well known, but perhaps it should be.  In Antarctica, a controversial 2016 study concluded that having more female scientists studying glacier melt could help combat global warming.  This is because “women have a more nuanced look at how melting ice affects societies close to glaciers”.  The female perspective, it is suggested, is different from that of the male because women experience post-glacier melt disaster events uniquely.