I’ve always been a feminist. Many people in today’s society view feminism as either a one-sided issue or as a movement that has become completely irrelevant. But feminism, a movement for equality between men and women, is a movement still very much alive. It is important to advocate for feminism because the stigma that surrounds it is enough to prove its importance: many women are afraid to identify as feminists because the idea exists that feminists are extremists who hope to claim control over the other sex. Such outlandish and false perceptions of the movement further discourage young women from this new wave of feminism despite the many current situations that put them in opposition.
However, in the UWCSEA school community, I found that the voice I had would not be mocked or dismissed. I found a way in which I could make my voice heard, and actions arise from them. After some research into the global concern service I wanted to dedicate my time to, I decided on Daraja. “Daraja Academy is a boarding secondary school for Kenyan girls with top academic scores and exceptional leadership skills but no means to continue their education.” Daraja provides shelter, food, healthcare and counseling services which allows students to focus on their academic and personal potential, without being hindered by the everyday barriers of poverty. They raise awareness about and promote gender equality and “foster women’s empowerment in all cultures”. This inspired me, for it showed me a clear set of goals that the GC had and how I could get involved. Joining this GC gave me a chance to learn more about an issue I already believed in, which only strengthened my views, for it is such a significant problem today. It has made me more mindful as a result. Of course, it is easy to believe in something or understand something when it is in front of you, or something you encounter on a daily basis. But learning about these brilliant and talented girls in Kenya and how gender inequality was hurting them, in their environment and hindering their life experiences, has only made me more passionate and determined to make a positive change.
Feminism and sexism is an serious issue on a global scale, but starting by making local changes is what I can do first. Small ways in which I have been doing so, and aim to continue to do so, are sparking conversations. Enough small talk at the dinner table. I ‘hosted’ a mini debate and discussion with my parents to both gain knowledge of their views, as well as spread knowledge of my own. It intrigued me how different my parents’ perspectives were on the matter despite both being feminists. I began to blog about this as well, and because I love writing, I began writing poetry and prose about sexism, oppression, feminism and inequality. Things are always easier said than done, but small words can make a big difference, I think. Hopefully my small actions will lead to bigger ones. So far I hope I continue to learn more from participating in my GC, and that soon, I can take some real action.