Feminism is an extremely important subject in today’s world, one that draws as much ire as it draws adulation. Millions of people around the world are daily drawn into conversations around feminism, and the ever-increasing number of social media outlets makes this even more pronounced. Ordinary people from around the world can make meaningful contributions to the discourse, and have their voice heard on a subject that affect millions of women and men all over the world. There is however the risk of some taking advantage of this to fight personal battles and take revenge on other people.
My earliest encounters with so-called feminists left me with a sour taste. These were people whose brand of feminism was driven by pure hatred for men. Usually, their previous encounters with men became a reference point in their lives and left them looking for an outlet to vent. While an unequal society may enable crimes or abuse against women, it is true however that people will experience abuse and infidelity at each other’s hands even when equality prevails. What is most important is that no abuse should escape the reach of justice, especially not on the grounds of gender disparity.
True feminism, however, focuses, on the real issue, which is the provision of equal opportunity for all people in every society. All humans are created with an innate ability to reach to the skies and become great regardless of their race, size, gender, or belief. If we do not ensure equal opportunity for all, especially by providing leverage for those who have been disadvantaged in the past or present, we will continue to be afflicted by the loss of contribution from those we did not enable. The saddest part is we may never realize our greatest solutions lie in the very people we ignored.
I think the greatest irony about the struggle for women’s rights is that women have been highly instrumental in shaping the world into what it is today. From their impact in our homes to their professional achievements (whether in science and tech, commerce, or the arts), their influence has been overarching. Yet they do not get their due credit because their impact has severally been relegated to the background. Relegated but forcefully existent. And history has not been just in documenting women’s contributions to the world’s ongoing evolution.
As the feminist agenda advances, I think it needs to continually be pruned of all the baggage it has picked up over time and remain focused on the central issue – equal opportunities for everyone. Governments need to go extra mile to ensure the girl child is getting the education she deserves. Businesses need to encourage career women and deliberately provide opportunities for them to contribute more. Individuals need to stop drawing gender lines so that we can break molds and open the way for women everywhere to reach their true potential.
Closing thoughts: Women are unique and have been endowed by God with the ability to contribute to society in ways men cannot. Sadly, some of the greatest barriers to women’s progress are other women – some of whom have risen but failed to lift or even deliberately put down other women. We must continually call out such people, just as we must keep calling out the men who discriminate against women. Everyone has a role in ensuring we level the playing ground and empower every individual to pursue their desires and achieve their greatest potential in life.
Toyin Taiwo, July 2020