I grew up in a society where women are deemed to be subordinates of men. In my society, women are supposed to fit in their roles as mothers and wives. In some places, true existence of women are to be married, bear children and be her husband’s wife. Higher educations are not much encouraged in women. Thankfully, women in the society I grew up in are not denied with their rights to education. I am completing my degree and most of my classmates are women. Though so, there are always words like, “no matter how highly educated women are, they will always belong to the kitchen.” As I grew up, I never really care about these ‘gender roles’. However, when I seriously joined debate four years ago, the issues we debated on really opened my eyes. I went to Gender debate for a few times whilst being a part of UniSZA debate team. As the name suggested, gender equality, women’s rights and women empowerment issues are debated extensively during the competitions. Being particularly passionate when debatiing about women's right and empowerment, I realized – “Maybe I am a feminist.”
Sure enough, many would still misunderstand feminism as a movement to spread hate on men and fight on the ideas that women can do what men can and thus, women should be treated equally or perhaps superior than men. Feminism is not about that. The ideology of feminism is to believe that both genders, men and women should have equal opportunities and rights in four dominating aspects : education, economy, politics and society. Feminists believe that women and men are created different. Biologically, there are things women can do that men cannot. Those are the natural gender roles that none of us should controvert. Yes, there is no denial that men and women are not created equal and never they will be equal in all sense. Men are physically stronger than women but I’ve never seen a man who can naturally undergo the painful process of giving birth. The equal chances that feminists are striving for are in terms of economy, education, politics and social. The four dominating aspects that most women's rights are being denied in many countries.
It is a fact that for so many years, women are denied from their rights to go to schools, to voice their opinions in politics, to equally stand a chance in economic growth and to be equally respected in society. Realizing that these denials of rights are a form of oppression, feminist movements started. Women begin to demand for equality though many still misunderstood. It is imperative to understand the definition of feminists before judging and condemning. Like it or not, women are a half of the population in any countries. It is good to see how much opportunities are given to women these days, we can see more women are involved in various fields. There are women who became doctors, engineers, architects, teachers, and even prime ministers. However, it is still heartbreaking to see in some third world countries, women are still being oppressed. We know about Malala Yousafzai who was shot for wanting to go to school. In some Arab countries, women are not allowed to take driving license and go to work. Not only that, in some other places, women are not allowed to vote. Their rights as a part of the society are being denied and for so many years, they grow up with that kind of beliefs. Up to the point that some women are against the empowerment of women since it is going against the social norms whatsoever.
In many years I casually spoke about feminism with my friends, I’ve always heard that – “men are created as leaders to women, defying that is defying what God had created.” Though I have said this so many times before, some of my friends are still misunderstanding the ideology that feminists brought upon the society. We are not demanding for women to be leaders. We are not demanding for men to be our subordinates. We are not demanding for men to step down and let women rule. What we are demanding are equal chances. If boys are allowed to go to school, girls should be allowed with the same opportunity. If men are allowed in politics, then women should also be allowed to do so. If you say giving equal chances to women are defying what God has created for us, think again. In the days of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), women are given those rights for education, economy, social and politics. Prophet’s wife, Siti Khadijah is a successful businesswoman, she supported her husband, become a wonderful wife to him but at the same time she is also enhancing the economy of her society. Siti Aisyah is another wife of our Prophet Muhammad’s. She is intellectually brilliant. She memorized thousands of hadith and contributed to the recording of the hadiths. Khaulah binti Azur and Nusaibah binti Ka’ab went to war and fought alongside their husbands and sons to protect Islam from its enemies.
Equality is not giving the same thing to everyone. It is giving what they deserve. Women deserve to be involved in society as much as men. They should not be hiding in the kitchen all day. I am not saying being a housemaker is an oppression to women. Some educated women choose to be housewives and I respect these women. I believe that both men and women should be treated as what they are. They should be allowed to achieve what they want in life. They should be encouraged to contribute in the overall growth of the society. We are all unique. We should be celebrated and appreciated for what we are and what we want to become.Though men and women will never be equally same in all aspects, they should be viewed as a synergy instead of two opposing units. The world would be a better place is yin (women) and yang (men) are balanced. Never let yourself be defined by your gender. Never let your potentials be limited by your gender. Be proud your true self. Be you. Happy International Women's Day. :)