Feminism goes back to the nineteenth century and we are now in the fourth wave of feminism. A time when we are using technology to propagate our opinions from one end of the earth to the other with the help of technology. So, how has feminism evolved over the years? How are we different from the feminists of our mother’s and grandmother’s times? What do the older feminists feel about the feminists of today? All this and much more was discussed at "The Feminist Conference," presented by SheThePeople.TV and empowered by UN Women India.
Four prominent women came together to discuss "Feminism Across Generations: How Have We Changed?" With Shaili Chopra, founder of SheThePeople and Gytree.com, moderating the conference, Trisha Shetty, a social activist; Nishtha Sathyam, deputy country representative of UN Women; AL Sharda, director of Population First; and Dr Syeda Ameed, a social and women’s rights activist, discuss how feminism has changed over the years.
Feminism Across Generations
Sharing how young women reach out to Trisha Shetty, a social activist on Instagram, she said, "A young girl said that her husband had been sexually abusing her and when she told about this to her mother, her mother had advised her said, "We don't talk about these things, adjust karlo. That girl said that she felt weak not because of the abuse that her husband did but because she was not able to adjust to the abuse."
Unfortunately, this is very common in a patriarchal society like India, where marital rape still hasn’t been criminalised. Domestic violence is considered an internal family affair, and women are consistently advised to adjust and compromise because men will be men. The National Commission on Women recorded nearly 31,000 complaints of crimes against women in 2022. This number is merely the number of crimes that were reported. Many crimes don’t come out because survivors are silenced by their families to uphold family honour.
"Things have changed purely for the fact that women and men have come here to talk about it. Back then, there were groups of very small individuals on the ground. We didn’t know; we weren’t aware that, should we not fight the fight right up there, make it the centre stage, we would not see a gender-equal world ever. So we are at the brink of the actual possibility of a gender-equal world and the fact that it is a real responsibility," said Nishtha Satyam, Deputy Country Representative, of UN Women.
While it is true that we still have a long way to go in terms of achieving true equality in all aspects, the very fact that we are now being vocal about our issues and collectively trying to find a solution to address them out in the open is definitely a notable milestone that we have achieved.
Sharing how feminism today is different from the feminism of her time, A.L. Sharda, Director of Population First, said, "I think the most important thing about social media is that it doesn't just give power to people like us; it also gives power to people in rural areas and slums. Anyone can use technology to make a point. It is heartening that many women are using it and creating a big difference."
With the internet women from any corner of the globe make use of their skills and knowledge for themselves as well as for people at the other end of the globe. We still need to work on making technology accessible to women at the grassroots level but a smartphone in every household has definitely helped to change the dynamics.
"I started off my life as a young person, living in Canada for about 18–19 years and encountering the kind of what we used to then call "occupational hazards" because we just didn’t know how to cope with this kind of attention," said Dr Syeda Hameed, a social and women’s rights activist.
Though we are still for equal employment opportunities, equal pay, a safe workspace, and many other occupational hazards that come along with the changing times, the fact that we are woke and demanding an equal seat at the table is notable.
We are quite far from achieving equality, but we are comparatively more woke than before. There are a lot more of us working towards bettering the future for ourselves and future generations.
The larger we are, the louder the impact of our sound is going to be, and that will definitely help make changes.
Watch the discussion here:
Suggested Reading: A brief history of the Feminist movement in 10 points