Happy Women’s Day – “Our Task Is Not Yet Done”

By Nasreen Pejvack

Women — organize in every community, district, and city … wherever you can. The time is now to surge forward and build on the gains of our foremothers and foresisters to complete our liberation from the structures of patriarchy!

From our earliest feminist sisters, such as Rosa Luxemburg, an anti-war activist, philosopher and economist, and Clara Zetkin who fought for women’s suffrage and to establish an “International Women’s Day” for us all; to the ones who wrestled over many decades to end legal and workplace inequalities; to our challenges today with ending sexual harassment and rape culture — women activists have accomplished, and continue to accomplish, immeasurably positive strides in the
empowerment of women.

woman with fist up

Photo credit: Miguel Bruna

However, our task is not yet done.

Indeed, it can be downright dangerous. In 1919 at the age of 48, Rosa Luxemburg was assassinated by thugs for her ideas and for bravely speaking out for human rights and against war. Today, those same thugs menace the young activist Greta Thunberg with a depiction of her rape, just because they do not want to hear her challenge their privileges to exploit and pollute at will.

So, we still have a long and arduous path ahead of us to educate ourselves, and predominantly our men.

Rosa Luxemburg was part of First-Wave Feminism, which sought to overturn contract, marriage, and property inequalities, and of course to battle for universal suffrage and the right for women to influence political life.

Then, from the early 1960s onward, Second-Wave Feminists took on new challenges and a wider range of problems. Their goal was to increase equality for women beyond just political emancipation. They fought for gender equality in the workplace, for equal status and safety within the family, and above all for reproductive rights. They also fought for our right to divorce and the right to custody of our children.

We should read and know our herstory about how many major changes in our world’s history have happened because of many bold and fearless women . . 

They established great programs such as rape-crisis centers and women’s shelters, and organized campaigns against violence against women. Today we are indebted to those brave ladies for many of our advantages.

With the Third-Wave of Feminism in the early 90s, more attention was paid to individualized expressions of gender and to considerations of racial inequalities not sufficiently examined previously. And presently a Fourth-Wave is challenging the core of gender relations, as typified by the #MeToo movement and exposure
of the sexual crimes of powerful men. Activists today recognize that, despite all the many years of progress in the past, we still discover that people, such as Harvey Weinstein, can get away with abusing many women for over 30 years with so few people being aware of it. The power of this latest wave is the ability to bring them to legal justice as much as possible, to leverage social media to expose them, and to normalize that the testimonies of women in these circumstances can be believed. Let us not forget the women who bravely spoke out and kick-started these latest
actions.

For many decades, countless courageous, fearless women have campaigned and continue to campaign for women’s rights and in support of women’s struggles. We should read and know our herstory about how many major changes in our world’s history have happened because of many bold and fearless women, of whom many have lost their lives for their belief that women are the foundation of this planet — respect that.

The diversity of feminist movements are as rich and varied as the people within them, and many different ideologies have developed over the years to bring us where we are today. I myself strongly appreciate the first and the second waves of feminism for laying down the strong foundations for us to stand tall, speak loudly, and march powerfully as we effect changes and advance further.

So here we are in the world: more free than ever to express our ideas, choose our own professions, and vote for those we believe can do better. All this has happened with the sacrifice and hard work of feminist activists, so it is disconcerting to witness the spread of reactionary agendas such that, for instance, a woman may be so eager not to be associated with feminism as to jump out of her chair to declare, “I am not a feminist, I am a Christian.” It hurts to see how such women move through the world so much more freely than in the past, yet seen uninformed about how feminist warriors past and present gave them that relative security. Philosophies of denial keep many uneducated concerning their own history.

It seems our failure to be united and not understand the history of women’s accomplishments may be one of the reasons as why “our task is not yet done.”

Today, older, weathered, we wearily continue the search, sometimes hopelessly. In many arenas, it seems as if it is getting harder than ever to attain our goals.

Many of us from an early age, innocently, reached out to claim our rights; campaigned fiercely for peace, truth and a just life for all. Today, older, weathered, we wearily continue the search, sometimes hopelessly. In many arenas, it seems as if it is getting harder than ever to attain our goals. Throughout the world, women are still exposed, harassed, exploited, with no proper protection, even after all these years of fighting for safety and security.

Is it because of the increases in technologies of distraction and self-interest? Have our gadgets just augmented individualized greed and gratification? Our cyber/industrial revolution has taken us so far, but is it aligning with how civilized nations should act or the way we — the people — should treat one another?

So, we continue to fight, knowing it’s right . . .

So, we continue to fight, knowing it’s right; but we are not seeing the changes as quickly as we should. After over a hundred years, should we still have to be taking bullies to court for abusing and harassing women? Shouldn’t we be done with these shenanigans by now?

I ask myself, “For how long more?” What is going on? Are we not doing enough? Well, I believe we are doing all we can. There is just so much resistance in the world.

Women everywhere – Mothers – the future is yours! Much of what is wrong in the world is due to the exploitations that affect women and families first and most. The planet’s population continues to grow, and the drive for profits continues ripping through our resources and ecosystems. What about our communities? Is there enough food for everyone in the near future; should it be controlled entirely by market forces and larger conglomerates? Housing and food prices are rising and people are less able to pay them. How far will we go with all this, and just hope that our corporatized governments come up with brilliant ideas?

Women — Organize in every community, district, and city … wherever you can. The time is now to surge forward and build on the gains of our foremothers and foresisters to complete our liberation from the structures of patriarchy!

__________________________

update photo of nasreenNasreen Pejvack began writing as a Canadian author in 2014. Her debut novel “Amity” was published by Inanna Publications in October of 2015 and was a finalist for British Columbia’s 2016 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Following that successful novel, she went on to complete “Paradise of the Downcasts,” a collection of short tales and essays inspired by her experiences of life in Canada. She also has a collection of poems entitled “Waiting,” and both books were published/printed by McNally Robinson in 2018. In Nasreen’s stories, her characters give expression to her life’s learning and experiences in order to relate narratives relevant to the concerns of our time. “Luyten’s Star” is her newest publication, a sci-fi novel.
Nasreen’s other interest is the research, design, development and presentation of a variety of Workshops on various aspects of our society. Nasreen was a judge for the 2018 BC Fiction Prize, as well as President of Royal City Literary Arts Society, May 2016 – July 2018. Prior to writing, Nasreen studied computer programming at Algonquin College in Ottawa, and worked in the field for over eight years (Programmer, Application Developer). She then moved to California to work as a Systems Analyst/Project Manager for CNet during the tech boom of the 1990s.
After several years she returned to Canada and BC, where she left the IT field and decided to start a new chapter in her life, studying and working while pursuing a degree in Psychology. Thereafter she employed her years of learning and observation with two separate educational institutions over a span of 12 years.
Since 2014 she has dedicated her time to writing, applying her life learning and experiences in developing vibrant characters and stories in novels, short tales and poems.

 

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