IWD 2019 - What Does Feminism Mean To Me?

We all have a woman in our mind that moves mountains and paves the way for light in the world. You might be lucky and know one of them. You may even be luckier to be related to one of them. I know for sure I am.

I could write a book on feminism, as most of my friends and family could testify, I do tend to rant often about my role as a woman and an unapologetic feminist. I know my place in this world, as a daughter, a friend, a girlfriend, and as an educator. I'm Scottish. I was brought up with two wonderful women in my mother and my grandmother. My ancestral history ranges from the Middle East to the Iberian Peninsula, to back home in Scotland and the Celtic isles. So I have mixed variables of heritages to represent me. And I champion that. I embrace the tangents of my history and who I am. And so should every woman.

But what I really want to touch on this IWD is education and why it is the answer to our problems.

As I have championed for years, I tell any person who says that women need to find their voices, or have someone speak on behalf of them, that actually no, we don't need someone to talk for us, or for us to find our voices. We have voices, we just have to be inspired to use them.

And I'm using my voice to raise the problems that women and girls face with education.

Education is a human right. Education is one of the greatest resources the world has to offer. Unfortunately, for some young girls and women, they are rarely given the same opportunities as boys to learn, study and succeed.

That's approximately half of the population of the world, isn't getting the right education that they are deserved.

Globally, over 65 million girls are not in school. Out of the 774 million people who are illiterate around the world, two-thirds are women. There are 33 million fewer girls in primary school than boys.

And education really does save lives: If every woman around the globe had primary and secondary education, childhood deaths would be cut in half.

Women and girls continue to face multiple barriers based on gender and its intersections with other factors, such as age, ethnicity, poverty, and disability, in the equal enjoyment of the right to quality education. 
This includes barriers, at all levels, to access quality education and within education systems, institutions, and classrooms, such as, amongst others:
  • harmful gender stereotypes and wrongful gender stereotyping 
  • child marriage and early and unintended pregnancy
  • gender-based violence against women and girls
  • lack of inclusive and quality learning environments and inadequate and unsafe education infrastructure, including sanitation
  • poverty
So why are we denying women and girls a chance of education? Why are there no programmes publicized for STEM education, and wide baring degrees that women can craft a path to a stellar career?

The answer. Our Governments simply aren't doing enough to promote education and encourage women to have a life other than outside of the family home. This isn't just across developing countries and countries with deplorable women's rights, this is also in our home countries, and they should know better.

We need the education to show young women and girls that there is a life other than being the head of a household, there is more to aspire to. That they are not here to provide for their men. Women across the world are waking up to the idea that they are more than an accessory to men. That they can have education and inspiration to grow and develop their skills, regardless of their geographical lottery.

Women can be capable of so much more when we have access to education. When we give women the chance to grow as human beings, then we are opening up the world to a fairer economy. Why would we deny the women of our world the access to corporate jobs, careers and skill sets that are formally held by men? Why are we rejecting the idea that we can hold the same position? If we are happy enough for women to raise our children then why aren't we happy with them running our businesses?

With better education and awareness, women have the chance to be at the helm of corporate and critical businesses. They have the chance to have a seat at the table, instead of having to build our own. They finally have the chance to be on the same level that they aim to, just by allowing them to run in the same race, without any disadvantages.

So how do we correct this problem?

On a political level, we can write to our politicians, our senators, our representatives and to anyone that will listen. Make a noise with the voices we have. Make moves with the education that we have had, in lieu of those who haven't got the access to it.

A prime example of this is Malala Yousafzai, the courageous and brave young woman who was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan for demonstrating her right to education, and the right for women in her country to be educated. Despite having a death warrant against her, she still used the voice she refined to not only survive and stand up for her rights, and also continued to speak out on the importance of education. In 2013, she gave a speech to the United Nations and published her first book, I Am Malala, and in 2014, she won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Malala used her right to education to inspire her journey, her career, and ultimately her education as she now studies at the University of Oxford. 

Proving that education is a driving factor for many women to succeed is further solidified in the work of Michelle Obama. Motivating young women to strive to be the best they can be, and by this means getting on the path of education, which sadly they are normally the first women in their family to be higher educated over a secondary level. 

And on a personal level, we can encourage our young women to strive to better. Which you think might be easy, but when was the last time you looked into the eyes of a woman and really encouraged her to grab her opportunities and seize them? When was the last time you sat down with an impoverished child and opened up her eyes to a world beyond her local village? When was the last time that you educated a young girl about her life choices and helped her on a path to success? 

We can all do better in this world. We are not all perfect humans. But we can strive to do better, and one way I would encourage you all to do is to harness the power of your own education and career successes. Look at the ways that you can provide help to our fellow women. Can you donate your funds, your time or even just your knowledge to help many women's charities fight this cause? Can you look at your profiles, look at your outreach, who can you inspire? Can you look at your own status, what can you do to make a difference? 

The fact is that our world thrives on the will of its people. And it's our responsibility that we give the women of this world a fair chance of being a part of it, rather than being an accessory. 

So this IWD I really encourage anyone who is reading this to be a part of the revolution instead of watching it. Make the noise that your voice can deliver. Be the change that you would like to see. 

And most importantly, understand that the right to education is precious but endangered and we can not let it become abandoned. 

Women have the chance to educate the world, but only if we give them the right to educate themselves. 

Happy International Women's Day 



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