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New Internationalist Essay

Third Wave feminists often critique Second Wave feminism for its lack of attention to the differences among women due to race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, and emphasize “identity” as a site of gender struggle. In Asia and Africa women were resisting both traditional and colonial oppression. Chinese feminists who joined the Taiping Rebellion of 1850-1864 called for an end to foot-binding and demanded communal ownership of property and equal rights for women and men.

Colonizing Europeans made alliances with groups that were the most conservative and often most oppressive of women. So the British in India encouraged the dowry system, arranged marriages and education for men only. But by 1905 Indian women were participating in the Swadeshi movement to boycott foreign goods and in 1917 the Women’s Indian Association was set up with links to the British movement for women’s suffrage. In parts of Africa women were banned from entering the cities and their traditional access to land – as Africa’s principle farmers – was also denied.

But in 1923 the Egyptian Women’s Federation was formed and in 1924 it got the age of marriage for girls raised to 16. Organized feminism, according to the Feminism and Women’s Studies site (2005) did not really start until the Women’s Conference in Seneca Falls, America on 1848. They state that: To begin with, the Women’s Movement evolved out of social reform groups such as the Abolition of Slavery, the Social Purity and Temperance movements. Women began to realize that in order to transform society they would need their own organizations to do so.

They campaigned upon a whole range of issues; from guardianship of infants, property rights, divorce, access to higher education and the medical professions, to equal pay and protective legislation for women workers. In 1928, that women were allowed to legally vote and that showed a crucial mark on women’s movement history. Increasingly, women recognized that campaigning was limited whilst women could not make their voices heard directly. The vote took 70 years to gain. It was not until 1928 that all women – not just those over 30 and of the right property qualifications – could legally vote.

Despite arguments that women should accept merely local suffrage, or universal male suffrage, or limited suffrage, the suffragettes persevered. The rise of the Militant suffragettes and the contribution of a mass of women workers during war time pressurized the Government to grant limited suffrage. Now it is debatable as to how much impact the vote has actually had in campaigning for women’s rights. But it was a crucial landmark in our history. In conclusion, the feminist movement has been growing and continuously working towards empowering women and liberating them towards gender equality.

At present, UNICEF (2008) has a goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women. Given their efforts, they have reported the following progress. Despite significant progress in achieving gender parity in primary schools, UNICEF projections for 2005 continue to indicate a global gender parity index (GPI) of 0. 96, meaning that there are still only 96 girls for every 100 boys in primary school, with significant variations between and within regions and countries. Gender inequalities in primary school are greatest in Western and Central Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Meanwhile, at secondary level, of 75 countries surveyed, only 22 are considered on course to meet the 2005 gender parity goal, while 21 will need to make additional efforts and 25 are far from the goal. At secondary level, the gender gap is most pronounced in South Asia (44% of boys of secondary school age in secondary school compared with only 36% of girls) and in the Middle East and North Africa (54% of boys compared with 43% of girls). References EServer. (2005). The women’s movement: our history.

Retrieved September 6, 3008, from http://feminism. eserver. org/theory/feminist/Womens-Movement. html New Internationalist Org. (1992). Simply a history of feminism. Retrieved September 6, 2008 from http://www. newint. org/issue227/simply. htm Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2004). Topics in Feminism. Retrieved September 6, 2008 from http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/feminism-topics/#Int UNICEF. (2008). Goal: gender equality and empower women. Retrieved September 6, 2008 from http://www. unicef. org/mdg/gender. html


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