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“Men are important in promoting equality”
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“Men are important in promoting equality”

Ashley Tan Yu YiFeminism is for everyone, says Ashley Tan Yu Yi, 16, a Correspondent from Singapore. Men and women have a critical role to play in eliminating gender disparities.

As a typical teenager struggling with a borderline unhealthy case of internet addiction, I have come across several articles and videos of women proudly calling themselves “feminists.” However, this term has been so commonly and even flippantly used that many now view it as a mere platitude.

Perhaps this stems from the problem that many of us still haven’t quite grasped the true meaning of being a feminist. Seeing that feminists should be helping to raise the social standing of women, it is essential that we, as women, understand that empowering women does not equate to disparaging the importance of men.

In fact, we should recognise that males are a key component in working towards our goal to reduce gender disparities. Males can be feminists too. In a world where males are still valued over women, we need the opposite sex to believe in our cause and help us fight for our rights.

As corny as it may sound, my mother is one whom you would call a “strong, independent woman.”  She is undeniably capable, clever and convicted, and I believe she is able to achieve anything she sets her mind to. However, with my father’s constant support and encouragement, she is twice as strong and empowered.

There are many cases of females who suffer in silence due to domestic violence or verbal abuse from their partners. This is a situation that we absolutely cannot condone. However, if we are able to not only empower women, but also galvanise men to strive for and proselytise gender equality, wouldn’t our society become a better place for all?

A strong illustration of man working towards gender parity would be Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson.  He plans to bridge the country’s gender pay gap by 2022. Endeavours made by puissant figures such as politicians are important, but these efforts can only truly make a difference when supported by change at the grassroots level. It is essential for the everyday man to incorporate feminist practices in everyday life; be it supporting a female counterpart if she is being harassed, acquiescing to a female colleague’s idea during a group meeting, or simply supporting his spouse in her pursuits.

The He For She Campaign initiated by the United Nations sets a perfect example by encouraging men to become allies of women’s rights. The National Union of Students UK Women’s Officer, Kelley Temple, once said, “Men who want to be feminists do not need to be given a space in feminism. They need to take the space they have in society and make it feminist.”

It is important for us to remember that feminism is, in fact, for everyone. Society should be held accountable to women who have been marginalised on the basis of gender, despite the fact that they are competent and capable of taking on leadership roles.

As females, we need to take on a more active role in encouraging males to support the feminist movement. I hope that more women will come to recognise that being a feminist does not entail belittling the opposite sex. Instead, we need to see the important roles that males play in promoting our cause, and encourage them to work with us to eradicate patriarchal norms that still exist in our society.

Reach me on Twitter@sparklypinksnow

References:

Annie Lennox Quote. http://shequotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Annie-Lennox-feminism.png. Retrieved on 9 November 2015.

He For She Campaign. http://www.heforshe.org/. Retrieved on 9 November 2015.

Kelley Temple Quote. http://feministallies.blogspot.sg/2012/10/men-in-feminist-spaces.html. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.

Men of Quality Support Women’s Equality Quote. http://pre08.deviantart.net/0fc2/th/pre/f/2012/145/8/a/men_of_quality_support_women__s_equality_by_poasterchild-d51412b.png. Retrieved 16 November 2015.

photo credit: _DSC0472 via photopin (license)
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About me: A teenager who holds a penchant for cute fluffy unicorns and everything pink, I am a loquacious girl who relishes the power of knowledge. I pride myself on being an epicurean, doing my best to devour every morsel of news possible, ranging from feminist issues to socio-political affairs.

One day, I hope to dominate in a tiara and fairy princess dress to help make the world a better place. Because who ever forbade warriors from dressing in style, too?

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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