Feminism is not women’s independence, rather it is a movement of liberty for all women.
The term feminism has been interpreted and misrepresented in many ways. We frequently hear people make a mockery of feminism and feminists as a whole. While some of their horrible claims may be true, most of them are not.
Feminism is a social movement, advocating for the embellishment of legal and social restrictions on women. It clamours for equality of sexes, simply stating that we are all humans irrespective of sex.
It is mockery when people claim feminists want a life without men. Feminism is not the reason for the high rate of divorce. People just find it difficult to make their marriages work. That’s all.
Feminism has given rise to tremendous improvements in society, whether we like to admit it or not. Several years ago, the society was not as open-minded as it is now. The freedom we enjoy, male and female alike, is all thanks to feminism.
Today, women have more choices and men have less work. This is true and it is only arrogant not to admit this. The family system is so much better because women started reasoning for themselves.
Perhaps, exploring this article will help you further understand what feminism is all about. Let’s investigate the different social changes that came about as a result of feminism. Who knows, you may want to promote feminism after reading this article.
Before the rise of the feminist movement, women were treated like second-class citizens. They were confined to being daughters, wives, and mothers. Women were only known and recognised by the men in their lives. Women had no rights and they were given in marriage with or without their consent. They had no right to initiate a divorce, no matter how brutally they were abused.
Not only that, women had no say in family planning and the use of contraceptives. They could not vote. As a matter of fact, in Saudi Arabia, women just got the right to vote and run for political office in 2015! Furthermore, women were not allowed to go to school. Particularly in Nigeria, it was considered a waste of money.
Females have, over the years, suffered severe marginalisation. They were not allowed to work and earn as much wages as men. Being a woman was a disadvantage in the labour market. The chances of finding a good-paying job as a woman were very slim.
Do we discuss how women and the girl child have been brutally raped and stigmatised while the offender walks freely? Fathers commit incest with their daughters and beat them into silence. The feminist movement started in developed countries to put a stop to the anomaly of inequality. It, however, became more organised in the 19th Century.
Feminism and Social Changes
Through the intervention of providence, the feminist movement started. The degradation of women reduced drastically afterwards. Women gradually began to think for themselves and started to go to school. As they developed, they began to question everything. They didn’t just take things at face value anymore.
There have been so many changes in our society and this was effected by the Feminist movement. Now, women have greater access to education, more equitable pay with men, the right to initiate divorce proceedings, and the right to make personal decisions, including women’s suffrage.
Feminism in France and North America
Women actively took part in the French Revolution. However, the French Revolution did not garner much recognition for the rights of women. In North America, the feminist movement was in full gear. The women in North America were allowed to go to school, hence their eyes were opened to the great marginalisation of the women folk.
In 1848, the First Women’s Rights Convention was organised. Women’s activists continued to campaign against slavery and the oppression of women. Be that as it may, they continued to fight for the improvement of the social positions of women.
Feminism in Europe
Better still, the feminist movement continued to spread till it got to Europe. The suffragette movement which is the fight for the right of women to vote in elections, started. The end of the 19th century saw a mass women’s rights movement. The terms “feminism” and “feminist” were adopted.
By the 20th century, there was a large number of female students in schools. Finally, women were allowed to go to school, have a career, and build a family they wanted.
Feminism in Nigeria
In Nigeria today, we cannot deny the fact that women have become strong figures in society. In politics, business, education, and civil service, women have continued to play leading roles in development.
This, however, could not have been possible without the feminist movement. If women only thought themselves good for rearing children alone, the likes of Dora Akunyili, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Obiageli Ezekwesili, Folorunso Alakija, Ibukun Awosika, Chimamanda Adichie and a host of others wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
These women and many others set the pace, even for men to follow. Feminism had indeed contributed greatly to nation-building. In the family system, feminism has helped to improve the standard of living. It has provided better ways of parenting. Like it or not, feminism has helped foster togetherness and oneness among couples.
The rise of feminism has done more good than harm. It has created awareness and the need to not only empower the female gender but also, allow her voice to be heard. It also allows her to dream big, pursue, and actualise her dreams. Thereby, giving the woman a chance to make decisions about everything both at home and elsewhere. These societal changes weren’t possible some years ago.
Researched by: Adejoke Toye