#IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: We should all be Feminists


A lot of people, especially women, shy away from owning the word Feminist. They would rather be addressed as Gender Advocates, Humanists, Equalists and the like. It is an undeniable reality that feminism has mostly been associated with the extreme versions of it, and therefore come under heavy generalisation and criticism.

There are others who try to explain the type of feminist, what kind of feminist, they associate with whenever the issue is raised in order not to fit into the stigma associated with feminists.

Feminism recognises that males and females suffer from gender inequalities from time to time, but the female gender suffers most. Feminism is ‘justice for all’. There are people who prefer to be identified as humanists or equalists just so they are not tagged as, or supporting, angry women who hate men and probably want to walk around naked.

But feminism is about equality, equity and human rights advocacy. Gender inequalities are largely associated with females, and therefore the solution identified to the problem should be called what is it – feminism.

The goal of feminism is to challenge the systemic inequalities women face on a daily basis. Contrary to popular belief, feminism has nothing to do with man-hating and female-supremacy. In fact, feminism does not support sexism against either gender.

Equality is sameness

There have been so many arguments raised when it comes to equality, but the bottom-line is equality is sameness. Efforts to achieve equality through equal treatment are doomed to fail because men and women are not starting at the same place.

Equality is when everyone is treated in the same way, without giving any effect to their need and requirements. The central idea of equality is that all the individuals get equal treatment in society and are not discriminated on the basis of race, sex, caste, creed, nationality, disability, age, religion and so forth – which is not bad, but does not make room for fairness.

However, equity is treating individuals fairly based on their needs and requirements. Equity ensures that all the individuals are provided the resources they need to have access to the same opportunities.

But, equity and equality work hand in hand to achieve the balance of advocacy. The point is recognising the presence of an imbalance in gender roles and contributing to the solution of it.

Choose to Challenge

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’. It presents an opportunity for all to become feminists in order to end the issue of gender discrimination. Choosing to Challenge means choosing equality, choosing liberation, choosing confidence, choosing to break the glass-ceiling, choosing to become a voice, choosing to normalise freedom, choosing to prioritise education, choosing humanism.

To the Woman – Women need to recognise their abilities, power and uplift their can-do spirit. Unlike the past when mothers and grandmothers had limited resources, abilities and goals, today’s women are presented with various opportunities to become whoever they want to be.

This is not to downplay the external, systemic barriers that bite hard on females and the presence of the ‘gender confidence gap’ that exists even to this day. A study by Cornell University found that men overestimate their abilities and their performance, while women underestimate both. Of course, not all men ooze self-confidence and not all women lack it. However, the ‘gender confidence gap’ is real. It is important not to lower your guard or see the need to raise your standards only to impress and prove that a woman can do whatever.

To the ManMen need to come to the realisation that the issue of gender disparity is not a women’s issue. When a woman faces any form of discrimination, it goes a long way to affect whoever they become; which has a domino-effect on men and society as a whole. An empowered woman lives her purpose, challenges the status quo and knows her worth. She becomes the role-model mother, the educated sister and the trophy wife which men, mostly, are proud to associate with. There is worth in her after all.

To SocietySociety needs to understand that the barriers and high standards created for women need to be abolished and totally scrapped. The gender roles assigned to females and expectations of juggling for a work-life balance is a flawed standard. Measuring a woman’s worth by the amount of pain she can endure and applauding her silence in the face of discrimination is glorified evil. We need a collective action and shared ownership for driving gender parity. We need to ‘Choose to Challenge’ because from challenge comes change.

Why is Feminism important?

Being a feminist means that you fight for the equality of all people. It is important that feminism is intersectional and should not exclude people based on their gender, race, socioeconomic status, ability, or sexual orientation.

Feminism allows equal opportunities for both sexes. Gender roles (a set of conforming rules that say how a person should behave based on their gender) can be harmful to both men and women. We need to recognise also that it is also unfair to place pressure on boys to fulfil certain roles that are based on their gender. There is a need to recognise the importance of equality.

Practicing equality and encouraging others to do so leads to productivity. In general, people who are treated fairly and have equal opportunities are better able to contribute socially and economically, which enhances growth and prosperity. It also builds confidence and creates safer spaces for women to thrive.

There is a need for all to come on board and contribute to the measures that will implement and sustain gender balance.  Feminism allows people to look at the world not as it is, but how it should be. We should all be Feminists.


UNICEF                                    www.globalpartnership.org                           www.forbes.com

www.choma.co.za                  www.iup.edu                                                  www.jessicadw.com

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