I decided that rather than simply talking about this myself, it would be fun and more interesting to get my friend Hildegard (who’s on my course as well) involved - the first person that came to my mind when I first read Giulia’s email.
Hildegard is definitely the only person I can think of who could probably discuss gender inequality (and all issues surrounding it) for at least 2 hours non-stop.
So, I asked her if she would write a few sentences for this post, which turned into a bit more than that ;) Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Hildegard! I really appreciate it!
If you want to hear what she’s got to say keep reading…
“A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with some colleagues at work and the topic of feminism came up. Instantly everyone's defences came up and a lot of girls said they don't like these ‘new aged feminists’ or that feminism is outdated or in some cases even stupid. And being a feminist and knowing what it truly means I wasn't all that surprised by their thoughts and their reaction. Feminism like any other ism or group, or religion has some members who give it a bad press and because of the society we live in today a group of women who are angry about misogyny are usually just brushed off and called lunatics and insane.
But I read a quote a couple of weeks ago that sums up feminism for me entirely. “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." It is just as simple as that. It's not about burning bras or hating men or wanting to have women take over the world. No, it is simply that women deserve the same rights and opportunities in life as do men. It is the simple notion that women have the right to be proud of who they are and have ownership of their bodies and what comes out of them. That they have the right to education and school as their male counterparts. That they have the right to pursue love and happiness and not have their lives revolved around accommodating men and producing children for them on demand. It is the most simple notion that women should have rights too and that they are valuable and don't deserve to be killed as infants or aborted because they are not boys. Or circumcised in the name of tradition just so that they do not enjoy the pleasure of sex at a later age and run off with other men. It's the simple notion that they deserve to go to school like little boys without being sold to much older husbands and taken out of school because their family can't afford them anymore. It's the simple notion that they have the right to go to school and be educated without being shot and threatened for wanting to educate themselves. It is the simple idea that a woman and a girl should be able to wear what she chooses without being brandished a slut and become subject to both verbal and physical abuse. It is the simple notion that women have a right to express their sexuality and be sexual beings without just being put in a box of either being a mother or something to keep a man warm at night. It is the simple notion that every woman has the right to walk home in the middle of the night by herself without being worried of some stranger jumping out and taking her body without her consent. It is about the fact that women shouldn't be ostracised for wanting to go to work to support their families, or deciding to stay home with the kids and not being called lazy or lacking ambition. It is the most simple purest notion that a woman is a person too and has the right to happiness just like every other man on this planet does. This is why feminism exists and this is why we need to continue to have days like these to bring awareness that in this world of ours absolutely no woman is 100 percent safe. And we will keep on fighting that struggle with our sisters and our male counterparts who believe that women have rights too until we can say that our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our girlfriends and our wives are happy and safe.”
If you feel like you can identify with this, and want to learn more about Hildegard, have a look at her portfolio and blog. She also was really kind and created the image above.
I also remembered that I recently entered a competition with Oxfam, for which I had to write a few words regarding women living in poverty, and figured this would go well with today’s post. Here’s what I said:
“Women represent 70% of the world's poor. They face gender discrimination, injustice, and violence that prevent them from covering their basic needs of food, healthcare, safe childbirth, education and employment. It’s humiliating and degrading. Overcoming these inequalities and ensuring that women worldwide can live a life of dignity requires that their situation is made public and shared with the world. (...)”
There was more that I wrote, but it doesn’t really fit in here. So, I’ll leave you to that, Hildegard’s thoughts, and your own thoughts for now - if you want to spread the word, or learn more about the International Day of the Girl check out the facebook page, tweet about it, or whatever you feel like is right. :)