Feminism… There’s no doubt this “F” word causes angst amongst many. The “F” word, Feminism can be polarising. Many who don’t identify as feminist will shy away from, or throw harsh and vile words at, or mock and ridicule, those who do.
We think that it is worth spelling out why we are proud feminists and exactly how feminism influences and drives the work of One Family At A Time in Cambodia. We aren’t afraid of the “F” word and nor should else anyone be.
To us, feminism is about all genders having equal rights and opportunities – it truly is that simple.
Feminism is a social and political movement and is about changing the way that rights are not experienced equally by everyone. Women, including our LGBTQ sisters, experience discrimination on the basis of our gender.
As a feminist organisation, we believe in gender equality; we believe that everyone is equal and should have equal access to the same opportunities as one another and not be discriminated as a result of their sex or gender. We, as feminists, recognise that all genders suffer, and that breaking down the patriarchy and gender roles will benefit everyone. Patriarchy is a system of rigid ideas of gender, roles and abilities, that constrains everyone’s ability to live as they wish to.
At One Family At A Time, we respect the diverse experiences, identities, knowledge, and strengths of women, and we strive, in all of our work, to empower girls and women to realise their rights. We want a level playing field between genders, where women and girls have the same opportunities as boys and men.
Do we need Feminism? Yes, we do. Sadly, the data doesn’t lie:
87,000 women are killed every year just because they are women. Of those, 50,000 are killed by their male partners or family members – and those are only the deaths we know about
111 countries have no repercussions for husbands who rape their wife.
2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men.
14% is the size of Australia’s gender pay gap
45 countries do not have specific laws against domestic violence.
35% of women globally have experienced sexual or physical violence.
What does it mean when we talk about feminism and intersectionality?
This idea of different forms of discrimination intersecting, is not new but is talked about more often nowadays. Intersectional feminism is the interaction between gender and other forms of discrimination, such as race, age, socioeconomic status, physical and mental ability, sexual identity, religion, or ethnicity. Intersectional applications of feminism interpret the ways that these factors influence or compound one another, which can create additional oppressions, barriers or harms. An intersectional application also understands that privilege works along the same axis. ‘Privilege’ in this context refers to advantage or opportunity which may be enjoyed by some people and not others. For example, a white woman with a university education living in a capital city in Australia may experience a range of barriers and discriminations, but also has access to material advantages that would not be available to women who haven’t had access to the same social security, education or legislative protections.
The purpose of an intersectional application of feminism is to ensure that the needs all women, and all people, in myriad circumstances are accounted for and considered. Intersectional feminism recognises that “the synthesis of these oppressions creates the conditions of our lives”, and that solidarity is the answer.
Women living in poverty in Cambodia face different barriers to equality than their male counterparts. The barriers a girl living in rural Cambodia faces are starkly different to those of her brothers. Access to school and the length of time she goes to school, the societal gender roles and expectations and the increased risk of her being a victim of sexual assault all mean that a girl in rural Cambodia has fewer opportunities to self-determination (i.e., to live the life of her choosing) than a boy will have.
All of these factors have led us to develop programs like Aspire – Supporting Girls through Education, SEW FARE – Social Enterprise Supporting Women’s Employment and maternal and child health programs such as First 1000 Days. Gender inequity is the reason we proactively support, nurture, encourage and empower women and girls. Not so they can have more opportunity than boys and men, but so that they can have the same opportunities.
What Feminism is not:
Feminists is not about hating men.
Feminists are not only women; people of any gender can be feminist.
Feminism is not about women being better or thinking they’re better than men, nor is it about making things worse for men. In fact, achieving gender equality means that men have greater opportunity in many regards. Men who traditionally are expected by our society to be “the tough one”, “the bread winner”, will have greater opportunity through gender equality to be truly accepted as a stay-at-home father, or to work part time, for example.
Violence Against Women:
“There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, culture and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.”
According to UN Women:
1 in 3 women, worldwide, have experienced physical or sexual violence – mostly by an intimate partner. When accounting for sexual harassment, this figure is even higher.
Calls to helplines have increased five-fold in some countries as rates of reported intimate partner violence increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
137 women are killed by a member of their family every day.
39% of Australian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Gender as the key driver of family violence:
The greatest risk factor for experiencing Family violence is being female. Fact.
While both men and women can be victims and perpetrators of family violence, the overwhelming majority of family violence is perpetrated by men against women. Fact.
Family violence experienced by women is usually more frequent and severe. Fact.
Family violence is preventable. Fact.
The impacts of violence against women are vast and devastating. Violence against women is both serious and preventable. Acknowledging the gendered nature of family violence is essential as it cannot be prevented if we don’t know what causes it.
So, what now?
The data and evidence mean that we cannot and will not do nothing about gender inequality and it’s various devastating and harmful impacts.
We will continue to acknowledge and name gender inequality as harmful and unjust and as a key driver of family violence.
We will unapologetically support girls in Cambodia to receive quality education.
We will unapologetically support women in Cambodia to be engaged in decent employment with fair wages and conditions, if this is what they want.
We will boldly work to prevent violence against women.
We will believe and support women and children responding to family violence.
We will continue to show up, as citizens of the world. To show our solidarity, and to make it a fairer, just and equal world.