March 8th marks a global celebration of women’s achievements and progress through time. International Women’s Day, is an important day in mobilising and empowering women across the world who may face inequality or injustice.A very common quote I have heard is “behind every successful man is a strong woman”, however women are still universally perceived as the weaker gender.
For decades, women have been the victims of abuse; deprived of the right to an education or the freedom of speech, amongst many other forms of injustice. Sheldon Sidney once said“women’s value has been under-recognised for far too long”. Feminism is more than about women fighting for our rights, but also the fact that women do not want to be told who they are, but having the opportunity to decide this for ourselves. Feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have political, social, and economic equality. It is about liberation, giving women a choice, not a battle ground between the genders.
The first International Women’s Day began in 1909, supported by over one million people, celebrating the accomplishments of women, from political achievements to strides towards gender equality. Despite this, it is still shocking to see that such inequalities exist in the current day. Each and every one of us in life has such potential, however in many cases the potential of women is lost because they are not encouraged in the same way as men, but providing the same opportunities for women and men in society would allow humankind to pave the way to a brighter future.
In a world in which gender equality is continuously explored and debated, in Islam, the status of a woman is regarded as incredibly high. We are taught woman have three roles in our lives:
- As a daughter, she will open the gates of heaven for her father.
- As a wife, she completes half her husband’s religion
- As a mother, heaven lies under her feet.
SubhanAllah, religion holds the value of women so high many centuries before the fight for equality began. This is one of the main reasons the women of Islam are such role models.
Something else I wanted to talk about is Girl Love! This is a cause which tackles the issue of girl on girl hate, which I feel prevents the development of women both professionally and personally. It is so important for us to encourage each other rather than seeing each other as competition and aiming to tear each other down, which honestly is really counterproductive. If we spent half of the time we use to tear each other down and instead use it to build each other up, and support each other, imagine what we as woman could accomplish! The power we have can unlock is amazing, and if we use our energy in a positive way, not only can we accomplish amazing things for ourselves but also progress so much further. We should not be defined by our relationships, pay-checks or any of our physical possessions, but rather our character and values speak for who we are! Without inner peace and self-care, we prevent ourselves from developing as human beings, and the negative attitude woman have towards each other both hinders their own development as well as that of others, and this is an issue which needs to be tackled head on!
As a woman of an ethnic minority culture, I have always felt that there is a discrepancy between men and women, which I’ve found so frustrating! Being told by others I could not do something simply because I am a girl has further driven me to prove these people wrong and make my own way in the world. I can honestly say I have had the best parents and most supportive family who have always supported me and driven me to achieve my goals in life, never allowing my gender to be a hinderance in this. This is something I feel all parents should strive to enforce: both equality as well as motivation and perseverance. I know in a lot of cultures, a women’s worth is defined by her relationship status (i.e. if she’s married, she’s met her goal in life!) which is something I really want to challenge. I have always been taught that my values and morals define me, and although these are all parts of life, I don’t think any less of myself for not following the defined cultural norms. In fact, I often feel this hinders woman in their progress in life, and again we are all humans; if we can not be happy within ourselves or have not figure out who we are as people, we can not expect to make others happy, be supportive of the important people in our lives, or make a difference in the world.
Another campaign I am really passionate about is the He For She campaign, which is targeted at gender equality. This allows men to be advocates for change as well as women. Fighting for women’s rights does not necessarily mean that women hate men. In fact, I think it’s absolutely fare to say that men do not have the benefits of gender equality in regards to the emotional support that is provided. The He for She campaign therefore also aims to help men who have been made to feel insecure due to the distorted sense of what constitutes as male success.
Gender equality is an issue for everyone, and it is something we should all strive towards. Coming together is the beginning, working together is success. Together, we can make a difference and light tomorrow with the actions we take today.