The year 2013 proved to be one hell of a year for feminism.
Through different mediums: celebrities, music videos, murder, economic growth, it became impossible to avoid the topic of feminism and its movements. Miley Cyrus proclaimed she was ‘one of the biggest feminists in the world’ while Robin Thicke dedicated his offensive pop hit blurred lines, (singing about rape culture and consent) to his wife – how very thoughtful of you Robin. Whether you agree Miley is ‘the biggest feminist’ or not is up to interpretation. But us ladies (and men) should take Miley’s declaration and see how others should and have become the biggest feminists and made progressive movements for global gender equality.
India, with its booming economy and growing population is set to become one of the leading countries towards fighting for gender equality. Unfortunately, the past year has seen India in the press for oppressive rather that progressive acts towards woman. The Bollywood star, Mallika Sherawat described her country as ‘repressive and depressive,’ slamming its patriarchal system and demanding change. The horrendous gang rape and killing of a student in Delhi sparked global outrage and protests. These angry cries were heard and in March, India made a historic law change by doubling the punishment for rapists: one step forward.
…Education is the foundation of empowerment…
However, this step forward has been trailed by a giant step back. The gang rape and subsequent death of a 16-year-old girl in Calcutta has proved that although the law has changed, the culture and treatment of woman in India is yet to follow. Indeed, the comment in November by India’s top police official: ‘if rape can’t be prevented, it should be enjoyed,’ shows how far India has to go in changing the violence and oppression Indian women face everyday.
Violence against woman is only one aspect of feminism. Progressive movements towards gender equality can also be found in the foundations of what it means to be a woman. Reproductive activity is fundamental but this is not limited to bearing children. Education is the foundation of empowerment, leading to employment and income. Nigeria (one of Jim O’Niell’s MINT countries seen to be the next economic giants) is set for big things in 2014 yet is listed 106 out of 136 countries in the global gender gap report. Regional divides exist between the North and South with the South hosting empowered women while the North holds woman poverty stricken and reliant upon husbands. Why is this so? Once again, although taking a few steps forward for growth and development, the country is in seen to be in reverse with regards to woman and their collective roles. This is being fought within the country, revealing some ‘big feminists.’ With Nigeria’s expanding economy, can this petition lead to equality for woman in 2014?
…What about those Indian women facing the threat of violence and rape everyday?
As a young woman living and working in Britain, I like to think I am pretty equal to my male counterparts. According to the Gender Inequality Index (GII), the UK was ranked 26th globally. On top were Norwary, Australia and the USA. Perhaps if I start to feel subordinated and oppressed, I will move to one these more balanced societies. But what about those women in Niger, Mozambique or Chad that have the lowest GII in the world, who can’t choose where they want to live? What about those Indian women facing the threat of violence and rape everyday? Those unemployed women in Nigeria? For them, perhaps, they need a Miley Cyrus in their society (or more Cyrus’) in order to spark and promote change in 2014. And these Mileys can be men too. Feminism incorporates both men and women. As John Legend said: ‘if men care about women’s rights, the world will be a better place.’