The International Day of Girls, observed on October 11 each year, has inspired me to voice my opinions about why women’s rights are important.
First and foremost, women’s rights are important because they are human rights. What many people don’t seem to understand is that the fight for women’s rights is not demanding that women be treated better than men but that they be treated as equals, as human. In today’s society, identifying as a feminist has become synonymous with identifying as a “man hater”, while this simply isn’t true.
Feminism is important to me, and it should be to everyone since women make up literally 50 per cent of the world’s population. By disenfranchising women, we are effectively curbing our potential as a species.
Girls in Guyana are not exempt from this discrimination, and even though it may not be very obvious, I assure you it is felt. It’s felt when young girls are told that their dreams of Science and Mathematics are misguided, and that perhaps they would be better off studying arts. And the numbers reflect the sentiments. Because fewer girls are encouraged to enter STEM fields, we find fewer girls becoming engineers or computer scientists. I, personally, have seen in my own Physics classes, sometimes I will be one of two or three girls. We need to remind ourselves, and others, that your gender does not limit you to a specific field of study or way of life. We are not born with predetermined skills and flaws; being female does not make you automatically bad at Maths. What does, however, is not trying hard enough because you’re convinced that you can’t do it.
Something else that I’ve noticed is that there are some people who claim to be feminists, but yet condemn a certain type of female. This is the opposite of what feminism wants. The feminist movement is asking for the right for women to choose who they would like to become, and for them to have the opportunity (equal to that of a man) to achieve this. If a woman decides that she wants to be a housewife, and another decides that she wants to become an astrophysicist, neither is better than the other. It’s time for us to start encouraging girls to follow their dreams no matter what those may be. Nothing is unattainable simply because of one’s gender.
It is time for us to begin respecting women. Women are not valuable because they are someone’s daughter, wife, or mother. They are not valuable because of their relationship to men, but rather they are valuable simply because they are human. With this realisation, we should understand that by being human, women deserve our respect.