Emmeline Pankhurst adresses crowd
After selling her home, Emmeline Pankhurst, pictured in New York City in 1913, travelled constantly, giving speeches throughout Britain and the United States

Feminism is a social and political movement. Feminism is about changing the way that people see male and female rights, and campaigning for equal ones. Somebody who follows feminism is called a feminist.

There are many different types of feminism:

  • Some feminists believe that all genders should always be treated in exactly the same way. They think that people should not think that a person's gender is important. Often these feminists believe that the traditional idea that women stay at home and look after children is wrong and that men and women should share this job equally.
  • Some feminists believe that there are important differences between men and women. However, they believe that these differences should not lead to any unfair treatment of women by men. For example, they might say that some women do want to stay at home and look after children; however, they must not be forced to do this and must be paid to do this, either by a husband or by the government, as child caring is a full time job.

There are also many other types of feminism.

History of feminism

Mary Wollstonecraft cph.3b11901
Mary Wollstonecraft

Women in politics

There have been women who have been involved in politics throughout history.

Historical

Esther, Lady Godiva, Queen Elizabeth, Catherine the Great, and Joan of Arc.

Modern times

Starting in 1960, there have been many women elected to high positions of power, such as prime minister. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the first, followed by Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Elisabeth Domitien and Margaret Thatcher. Dame Eugenia Charles lasted nearly 15 years in the post, a record.

General history

Feminism started with the idea that human rights should be given to women. This idea was put forward by some philosophers in the 18th and 19th centuries such as Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill. Later feminists in the early 20th century also said that women should be allowed to vote in a democracy. Many women felt very strongly that they should be allowed to vote and there were many protests. These women were called Suffragettes. This is because they were fighting for Universal suffrage which means everybody is able to vote. The Suffragettes staged many protests for their rights. After women received the vote, feminism worked to make all of society more equal for women.

Not all female politicians have been welcomed by feminists, with Margaret Thatcher, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann being clear examples.

Critics

There are reasons why some people do not like feminism:

  • Some people do not like feminism because they think that women are already equal or more important in the law. Anti-feminists often say that society is also not equal for men and that women have more rights in child custody and divorce.
  • Some say that feminism wants women to be more important than men.
  • Some argue that women and men have simple biological differences, and thus cannot be treated in the same way. Some examples are: the treatment and role of women in the military and pregnancy only happens to women.
  • Some people do not like feminism because it wants to change society and it could make men have less power.
  • Feminism could give women special rights that would then hurt other groups and their rights. An example would be a fear that women would take away jobs normally done by men.

Images


Feminism for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.