Ana Cocolo

Brazil

The struggle of feminism in search of gender equality

October 15, 2020

 Well, I'm here to talk about a subject that moves me a lot and I believe that you, too, read:  the gender equality and the struggle of feminism. Do you know when all this started and reached what it is today?
 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, and even after so long the ambitious vision of the Beijing Declaration has not been fulfilled, only 10% of the world is led by women, despite advances yet much is needed for gender equality.
 It is time for actions to change the history of women and girls, worldwide, on average, women have only 75% of the legal rights of men. The change begins with female representation in leadership positions, places where decisions are made that affect people's lives. Investing in women and girls isn’t just a matter of rights, it’s  also a smart economic choice, with benefits for society often exceeding costs.
 Feminism is a social and political movement that claims equality between women and men. Since the rise of modern feminism, the movement has achieved a series of concrete achievements that have an impact on the lives and autonomy of women around the world, such as: Right to education, Political rights, Civil liberties, Labor rights, Reproductive rights, Integrity against rape and harassment.
 Feminist ideas and actions try to overcome the various gender inequalities, which is reflected in the lack of political representation of women, which is historical and still stands today, in wage inequality in relation to men who do the same job, in the statistics of violence against women, in beauty standards, in the way of educating girls and boys and in a number of other aspects. The silence surrounding sexual violence, the blaming of victims and the idea that rapists are driven by natural impulses, which feminists have been combating at least since the 1970s. They politicized these acts, defining them as male demonstrations of power and control over women's bodies, and contributed to making the conversation about them public, encouraging women to report their aggressors.
 I will tell you a little about the history of this very important fight.
 Feminism started at the end of the 19th century, when women came together in search of the right to vote and equal access to education; The first country in which women were able to vote was New Zealand, throughout the first half of the 20th century, this right was won in other nations. Soon after these achievements, feminists were interested in addressing sexuality, female pleasure, reproductive rights and women's health, domestic violence, rape, and unpaid domestic work performed by women; the arrival of the contraceptive pill on the market in the 1960s played a decisive role in the expansion of female sexual freedom and in family planning for married women. But in the 1990s, there was a strong reaction against feminism by the conservative politics of the 1980s in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom and by the rumor that a “post-feminist” had begun, in which women's struggle for equality would be overcome however, theoretical work and claims showed that inequality was still present and took the gender debate in a new direction. With street protests, social media campaigns, new collectives organized by young women and a proliferation of feminist websites and blogs since the years 2010, many have announced the arrival of a new feminist wave. This movement made feminism impacting on culture, social relations, institutions and institutional politics, such as sexual violence and representation. In the 21st century, the movement gained renewed momentum in various parts of the world, expanding its reach through the internet and putting into practice new forms of mobilization and organization; with hashtags, such as #NiUnaMenos, #MeuPrimeiroAssédio, have become an important feminist mobilization tool, allowing women from all over the world to express their indignation and feel supported by the reports of others, starting to also publicly expose their connected experiences to chauvinism.
 Feminism is still openly pursued by the state in several countries, with activists being arrested and even tortured
 Even with the achievements of the last centuries, women still experience a series of inequalities due to their gender: they are murdered by partners and ex-partners, they do most of the domestic service, even when they work outside the home, they are a minority in leadership positions and they earn less than men doing the same occupation, even though they have, on average, higher education. They live with sexual harassment since youth, on the street, in public transport, at work.
 Women like Elizabeth Stanton one of the central figures in the struggle for suffrage in the USA, Simone de Beauvoir introduced the idea that being a woman isn’t a determination of biological sex, but a social construct, Judith Butler, defended that gender is fluid, not binary, and performative, and Malala Yousafzai became a symbol of the right of girls to study by being shot in the head for defying the Taliban.
 These are just a few examples of feminists in our history, feminists are women who fight daily for equal rights, for not taking any more cases of harassment and aggression, simply because they are women.
 Possibly not every woman may have gone through some of the cases mentioned in the text, but every woman wants to live in a world where she isn’t ashamed to have opinions and be yourself, we are born free and must have the same rights as a man.
 Therefore, if you are a woman like me, we should always support each other and grow together in search of a more egalitarian world and you, the man who also read this text, help us to achieve the same rights that you already have. With this, we will increasingly have historical names like these.

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