How Feminism Differs Across the Globe

For centuries, women have been using their voices in powerful ways to fight for equality. While it is true that women all around the world are moving closer towards that goal, countries vary when it comes to how these movements are received by the public, and how these steps towards equality are accomplished. 

  1. 1. The Philippines

    Laptop with white mug that says the future is female with a lipstick mark

    Influenced by Western feminist thought, Filipino women were inspired to take back what used to belong to them, rather than finding spaces to fit into. Before the Spanish invasion in 1521, gender roles were fairly equal between men and women. However, when the Spanish took over the Philippines, women were subjected to being nothing more than housewives and caregivers, while men were able to elevate their social status. The Spanish also imposed a Catholic indoctrination that removed women from the labor force, desiring to neutralize the societal image of independent women. Today, Filipino women are reversing these roles by becoming the key economic providers for their families by working abroad, mainly as nurses, nannies, and caregivers. 

  2. 2. Rwanda

    bird's-eye view of sitting on bench while discussion

    As of 2016, 64% of women held seats in the Rwandan parliament, a higher percentage than any other country in the world. However, some people regard feminism as a “dirty word”, renouncing it as something that only Americans can adopt. Following the genocide in 1994, President Paul Kagame mandated that 30% of seats in the parliament be reserved for women, and since the 2003 election, the Rwandan government has contained an equal balance of men and women. However, since this was a top-down decision from Rwandan leadership, there were no social movements initiated by women that allowed the concept of feminism to take off. This meant that many women continued to play the domestic housewife role at home; they are yet to make a breakthrough in the feminism stage.

  3. 3. Paraguay (*Trigger Warning*)

    chains around a gate

    In Paraguay, women have experienced oppression in almost every aspect of their lives, especially when it comes to abortion and sexual relations. Under the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, who was president from 1954 to 1989, the country declared a state of siege right after taking office, giving him the opportunity to arrest and ban any form of public protest. Instilling this oppressive culture of machismo, people were afraid to speak up. Soldiers tortured female prisoners through rape, and, to this day, many young girls either give birth to children or exhibit illegal abortions, because they are not provided sex education to learn how to say no. Since the end of Stroessner’s dictatorship in 1989, women gradually began reversing the social rhythm by challenging the male-dominated culture. Additionally, organizations such as UN Women are taking action to do things such as eliminate violence against women in Paraguay. 

  4. 4. The United States


    Last but not least, the feminist movement has observed possibly the most advancement in America. The different parts of feminism in the U.S. are coined as “waves” in order to organize and distinguish its numerous milestones. In the 1830s as well as the 1910s, women started labor movements advocating for better wages and working conditions. The event that essentially kicked off the first wave of feminism was the Seneca Falls convention of 1848, where they unanimously passed a list of twelve resolutions designed to gain equal rights that they were previously denied, one of them being the right to vote. Following that, women proceeded to campaign for topics such as reproductive freedom and the alleviation of sexual harassment. Today, we are currently in the fourth wave, where women of color and the #MeToo movement are especially taking a stand.

Women from all over the world are increasingly finding ways to achieve equality in the feminist movement. While significant progress has been made over the past few decades, there is still work to be done. While gender inequalities cannot be completely eradicated within a short amount of time, the right amount of unity between women and society at large can create a step in the right direction.