Many people criticise the feminist movement without fully understanding it. The term feminism means the advocacy of equal rights for men and women. We must understand that equality does not mean similarity. Equality of the sexes can be confusing for some; it simply means equal access to resources and opportunities irrespective of gender. Feminist movements have campaigned for women’s rights, including political, social and legal rights, access to education, equal pay, reproductive rights, etc.
There is a common misconception that the feminist movement is a campaign against men. However, feminism does not have anything to do with competing with men. It is about fighting against gender stereotypes. The term ‘feminism’ was first coined during the 1800s in France. The history of the feminist movement is divided into four waves that began from a grassroots level and emerged into a modern phenomenon. Many people in our society believe that feminism is a western concept and goes against the teachings of Islam.
However, Islam is the only religion that gave all the rights to women as early as 1400 years ago. According to Islamic teachings, women have the right to honour, freedom of belief and equal justice, to seek knowledge, to earn money, to own property, to enter legal contracts, to choose a spouse, etc. In Islam, there is no supremacy of men over women in terms of rights. In Pakistan, feminism is often conflated with western ideas and concepts, which is why the movement is deemed controversial. It is important that we identify the actual definition in accordance with history and Islamic teachings and work accordingly.
Dr Aimen Sohail
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2021.