Please send your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org with any comment you will like to be published, relating to this topic.
Prof. Estelle Freedman speaks to UKstudentnews.co.uk
Andy -- Question 1:
From your knowledge of women movement so far, do you
think feminism has made a fast progress in the western
society and little or no progress in Muslim and
Prof. Freedman -- It depends how you define feminism, for movements for women's
rights appear in many cultures but in different forms, and the rate of
change depends a great deal on local economic and political contexts.
example, women in western Europe and North America began calling for
suffrage in the 1840s but did not achieve it until the twentieth
so progress has not been that "fast." Women in Egypt also campaigned
suffrage in the early twentieth century, as did women in Latin
America. Indeed, women in Turkey could vote before women in some
countries. After World War II, in the wake of anti-colonial and
democratization movements, women in many parts of the world organized
greater economic and political rights. Today, for example, Muslim women
work for the reform of family law so that women and men have equal
to choose spouses and to divorce. African women have been important in
NGOs (Non-governmental organizations) addressing health issues,
AIDS and female genital cutting). I think the "fast progress" you
has more to do with women's entry into wage labor forces, which occurs
quickly in urban, industrial economies. In NO TURNING BACK: THE
FEMINISM AND THE FUTURE OF WOMEN I argue that where market economies
democratization converge, and especially where women have greater
education, you will usually find women's movements, though the focus
vary depending on cultural differences such as religion.
Andy -- Question 2:
Some people may say, feminism is a western concept and
interfering with religion, which is regarded as a way
of life. What would you say to a non-western
individual, that believes feminists are trying to
Westernize the whole world.
Prof. Freedman -- Again, you are conflating feminism and western women. I am
defining it more broadly to include women's movements internationally.
my book, No Turning Back, I stress the diversity of these movements,
change over time and are never monolithic. In terms of religion, even
the west there have been debates about women's roles in organized
(the increasing ordination of women, the growth of a female
movement). Feminism may be historically linked to secularism, but
feminists also embrace religion. In terms of westernization more
generally, some feminists in the west are extremely critical of
their own culture (sexualization of women in advertising, for example).
women outside the west have noted that many men in their cultures don't
necessarily question western values when it comes to economic and
change, but suspiciously draw the line at feminism.
Andy --Question 3:
What would you say to a young woman that wants to
better herself, but is frighten because her
family/environment believes women should be second
Prof. Freedman -- Historically, education has been a key entry point for women
gain access to full citizenship. I would advise seeking education and
finding support for her growth intellectually and personally.
about the need to educate women to be better mothers worked in past
centuries and may still be effective. Some women found strength
their family religious traditions to argue for the importance and
spiritual equality of women. It depends of course on the individual.
Do you believe there would ever be a point on this
planet, when all women are treated as equals to men ?
Prof. Freedman -- Feminism is, admittedly, a utopian movement, part of a larger
historical effort to achieve a more just social world. As a historian
usually avoid predicting the future, but I don't expect full equality
women and men throughout the world in my lifetime. I think over the
century men will have to rethink their lives as much as women have in
past century before we can see a truly feminist future that values
women and men equally.
Andy-- Question 5:
Is religion good or bad for the society ?
Prof. Freedman -- Both - if religion is used to justify intolerance, hate,
misogyny, or racism, it is bad for all of us; but religion can also
used to empower individuals and to imagine a more just society. Even
same religion can be interpreted to empower or oppress certain groups
(e.g. the Christian Bible was invoked in the era of slavery both to
justify and condemn the practice). In terms of women, historical
ranging from Buddhist and Christian nuns or mystics have drawn on
religion as a form of empowerment, and in the recent past many
denominations have recognized the ordination of women. For many
fundamentalists of all faiths, however, beliefs in women's need to
to men counters the femiminst view of spiritual equality
ukstudentnews.co.uk will like to thank Prof. Freedman for her time and comments.
The above interview is based on her recent book: "no Turning Back -- A History of Feminism"
ISBN: 1 86197 345 4 Royal HB: £20.00 Pub Date 25th April 2002