Emma Watson Reminded Us Why We Must Keep Fighting For Gender Equality
It's easy for many people who care about social justice to get caught up in the obstacles these still face, and fall into a pit of despair and helplessness. On the flip side, many others get so caught up in celebrating all the achievements these movements have made that they tend to overlook the existing problems yet to be addressed. It's critical to resist both of these extremes and to balance the way we perceive milestones in the fight for quality. Emma Watson’s “Hurdles” video, created by Global Citizen, communicates this very message.
Emma Watson starts the video by stating that since the beginning of time, women have faced injustices and inequalities, but that it has never stopped them from fighting for their right to vote, gain an education, and hold positions of political power. Women from all over the world are shown leaping over actual hurdles, which symbolize these aforementioned barriers — as well as the achievements that have been accomplished in the arena of women’s rights and gender equality. The video then both talks about achievements throughout history — such as New Zealand giving women their right to vote in 1893, the US’s Equal Pay Act of 1963, and the increasing number of women who occupy political positions in countries such as Rwanda — while also acknowledging that serious issues still persist — like violence against women, child marriage, and girls not being in school. The main message of the video is that, “The race is still on, every day of every year of our lives,” and that the struggle for gender equality is an endless, perpetual fight that must become imbued and ingrained in our society and must become an integral part of our way of life.
I appreciate that the phenomenon of feeling like we are celebrating superficial successes as deep victories was acknowledged here. Bills such as the Equal Pay Act that were passed as long as over 50 years ago have still not been truly effectuated into our society until today. Laws that address the issues of child marriage have been passed in many countries, yet child marriage is still very prevalent especially in many African and East Asian countries. Sometimes it seems that the only way we’ll be able to change our situation, is if we could shake the world up and start human civilization from the beginning (and this of course would only work if we could guarantee that history doesn't repeat itself as it so often does). But as Emma Watson says, we must realize that “the race is still on” and that everyday is a chance for us to get closer to where we want to be, despite the presumed insignificance of our actions.
I also found it particularly significant that the women presented jumping over these hurdles together are of different ethnicities and races. This image emphasizes the idea that the fight for gender equality should be a global effort with participants from all over the world, and that gender equality is an issue that concerns each and every one of us, no matter where we come from.
As a current resident of Saudi Arabia, a country seemingly notorious in the Western world for its human rights violations and its appalling treatment of women, I've found that few people are aware of the fact that every day there are more and more Saudi women who are voicing their opposition to unjust laws set forth by the government, and are using outlets and platforms such as art and social media to get their message across. Many Saudi women on Twitter express their thoughts and are part of movements that calls for the end of the very controversial male guardianship system and the banning of women from driving. To other people around the world, these efforts are often overlooked because they seem so insignificant in the grand scheme of things and won’t change much, but it is these women who are setting a precedent for challenging the patriarchy and fighting for their rights in their country.
In addition to this video, I'm hopeful to see others try to bring light to this very message. For example, Tuesday October 11th was the International Day of the Girl. People all over the world used social media platforms to draw attention to the problems facing girls worldwide, such as the lack of access to education, healthcare, and equal opportunities. People engaging in the social media movement prompted by Girl Up also took this as an opportunity to call attention to #GirlHero(es), women and girls that are a source of inspiration and represent what it means to challenge prescribed gender norms, break the glass ceiling, succeed in male-dominated fields, and simply act as agents of change in their local communities and beyond.
Ultimately, in order to overcome being submerged by feelings of despair and hopelessness that can come from feeling like we're going nowhere despite the immense amount of effort that we put in, we must constantly remind ourselves of the utmost importance and magnitude of the cause that we are fighting for everyday. We are fighting for women, for humans, for individuals who are a force to be reckoned with, more than half of the world’s population. We are fighting for rights that are naturally theirs but of which they have been deprived. It is a cause that transcends time and place, and we, as citizens of the world and as humans, must all unite together to play our part in disintegrating gender inequality. We must realize that every action matters, that every action will propel us closer to our destination of achieving gender equality.
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