Women's Movement: A Short Guide

August 02, 2018
It would be a ridiculous thing if one day girls and women were to be forced to leave school, or their jobs, and made to stay at home for the rest of their lives. It would be outrageous if we were to be suddenly exposed to violence, and made to suffer in silence. It would be sad, if we were to lose our voice, and pushed to the darkest corner of the world. Yet women in the past were used to the unjust treatment, but they fought hard for equal rights, and here we are, enjoying the fruits of their labour. Now, most of us are familiar with the concept of equal rights, but not with feminism. Feminism is a sociopolitical term, and it simply means equality between men and women. So, feminism is not a bad thing, right? Now let's move on to the women's movement, or the 'waves of feminism' as they are called, and learn to appreciate this hard-earned equality.

Waves of Feminism/Feminist Movements: In the West, the most significant feminist movements were divided into three waves. The First Wave Feminism, the events of which unfolded during 19th century and early 20th century, saw the struggle for women's right to vote. The movement coincided and cooperated with the abolitionist movement, and went on create ripples in the patriarchy-infested society. The Second Wave followed soon after, and it raged and roared, as various issues came to be highlighted during that period. While the First Wave was criticized for its noninclusive nature, the Second Wave included women of colour, as well, and focussed on issues such as sexuality, the workplace, the family and reproductive rights. And this wave had the support of various groups as well, like New York Radical Women, Restockings etc. That was the furious 70s. The Third Wave began in the mid 90s, and the approach was global. It was inclusive, and catered to intersectionality by taking issues of women of the third world and acknowledging the cultural and ethnic differences amongst the women. So, that's a brief summary of the West and the beautiful movements that changed the whole scenario.

Feminist Movements in India: Our prospects for a full-fleged women's movement were impeded by the colonial oppression at that time. Yet, the first signs of rebellion started when the cruel Sati practice was called into question. But didn't yield any results. We have had our moments, with our women actively participating in significant movements like Shahada and anti-price rise agitation in Maharashtra, anti-alcohol agitation in parts of western India, anti-price rise agitations in Gujarat, the NavNirman agitation, the protest against the Sati burning of the RoopKanwar etc. The recent raoe cases, or the rise of violence against women have certainly proved that we need to keep fighting, and hopefully we will create history as well.

The #MeToo movement took the internet by storm. It started as a bold step to expose the sexual abuse in Hollywood, but took a global turn, and is still going on. We aren't exactly living in a feminist utopia, and have a long way to go. Well, let's take a moment to appreciate the efforts of all the feminist men and women, who are trying to make this world a better place!

Post Written by - Lopamudra

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