1) Equal Pay
2) To ensure we have more female politicians
3) Women should have control over their own bodies
On the first point the HeforShe campaign states Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue. I couldn’t agree more with this, in fact equality between genders is one of the fundamental principles of EU law and legislation for equal rights between women and men has existed since the very early days of the European Community. In Ireland to ensure we have fair pay amongst the labor force, ie to ensure that a man and woman get equal pay for equal work, we encourage the development of trade unions, in fact it is your legal and constitutional right to join a trade union and right now trade union membership across Ireland is at an historic high. There are now more people in unions than at any time in our history. Trade unions help protect their members and historically speaking they’ve helped improve working conditions as well as ensuring equal pay for their members.
The second thing most ‘feminists’ hope to achieve is to have more women in politics. The issue with this is that trying to reach a quota to satisfy a lobby group is not very democratic. Secondly everyone has the right to vote and everyone in Ireland has the right to enter politics, so really this is not something we can simply lobby for, it is something that must develop over time by having high quality female candidates. On this note Ireland has always had strong female leaders in politics from Constance Markievicz to Bernadette Devlin to Mary Robinson, the later of whom served as Ireland’s first female president and as a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The third point which does cause a some divide is the right to control your own body, ultimately this means that women should have the right to an abortion as they should be able to decide whether or not they carry a child. Now this is something I’m in agreement with also so that must make me a feminist right? Well maybe I’m just pro-choice and I am liberal enough to realise that there is a place for abortion in modern Ireland.
So from examining the feminist movement part of me has begun to develop the opinion that the main points are really just basic human & civil rights, and all feminism has really done is extract fundamental ideas from various movements, repackage them and slap some lipstick on it.
Now the danger with this is that perhaps feminism has detracted from the development of broader issues, for instance in the quest for equal pay for women are we ignoring the basic concept of equal pay for all? In the quest for more female politicians do we end up in world run by Sarah Palins? Is the pro-choice movement ignored by male society because it’s seen as a woman’s issue? Perhaps feminism has separated human rights and women’s rights to the point whereby feminists have excluded men from the civil rights process and thus feminism is synonymous with womanhood and is completely inaccessible to man. Perhaps feminists need to step out of the feminist closet and re-engage with the world.
Emma Watson I don’t believe you have declared yourself as a feminist so much as you’ve declared yourself as a woman who believes in civil & human rights #heforshe.