Issue 18, Feminism


The humanity of women, equal rights for women, women’s roles and experiences within patriarchy, impact of religious norms on women’s lives, economic opportunities for women, sexual and reproductive rights and freedoms, women’s safety at home and in public, political empowerment of women — all these and many more are issues of critical importance to feminism. Although many consider today’s world to be progressive, the equality between women and men has not yet been realized.


It is even difficult to say whether women’s rights and situations globally have improved over the past two to three decades. Part of the difficulty assessing women’s situations is that social norms and laws regarding women vary considerably from nation to nation. At the present moment, there is an ongoing struggle for the protection of women’s rights in many parts of the world. It is also a brutal time of violence against women in many communities.


Not only are women’s situations different globally, even within any one nation, where laws appear uniform, women do not experience the same freedoms and opportunities. Their identity as women intersects with other roles and positions, such as class, race, ethnicity, marital status, and education. Even within one country, women and their experiences are not homogenous.


Despite progress of women’s rights in some areas, there are also many setbacks. In fact, improving women’s status seems more difficult than improving other inequities. Why is that? In fact, why is “feminism” viewed so negatively among many people? Feminism and women’s rights do not mean that women have special rights; it means providing equal rights to women that are given to men. In other words, it means socially and legally recognizing that women are human just like men.


Policies and laws that protect women and girls and that give them equal opportunities are essential. But policies and laws do not change people’s mindsets — especially not in the most intimate of spaces: family, relationships, and sex. It is in these spaces where patriarchal norms govern interactions between men and women. Who works for the household, and what work is valued? Who does the child care? Who cleans? Who has a voice in decision making in the household? Who decides to have sex or refuse sex?


We believe that to improve the status of women globally, we need to change not only policies and laws but also families and relationships. We need to look at ourselves.


Shuddhashar wants a world in which women and girls feel safe walking home at night. A world in which reproductive rights are protected and maternal and elderly care are guaranteed. A world in which women and men have equal opportunities for education, employment, and political office. A world where childcare and home care are assumed to be joint responsibilities.


Shuddhashar envisions a world where power and opportunities are not limited by gender, race, sexual orientation, identity, economic status, disability, or age. We firmly believe that a true democracy is one in which the worth and dignity of every person is valued. Women’s rights are essential to any effective democracy.


For this issue, we look at this contemporary moment from different feminist points of view, and look at feminism from different angles, in order to convey various challenges and experiences. The writers reflect on different contexts – Bangladesh, India, Norway, U.S. – as well as broadly, globally, and theoretically. They tackle definitions of feminism including limitations and expansions of “feminism,” women’s legal rights, societal challenges to improving women’s status and rights, the impact of #MeToo, and the role of women in arenas as diverse as literature and terrorist organizations. In this issue, we have provided English summaries of articles written in Bangla.


Although the number of people struggling with pens or keyboards is higher than any other time, it is not always clear how people can make solid impact on improving the situation of women globally. Nevertheless, it is our hope that this issue will encourage others to examine the challenges from different perspectives and to implement positive change in their communities and homes.

Secularism is a necessary (but insufficient) condition for establishing women’s rights

Looking back on the past 40 years of the women’s movement in predominantly Muslim contexts, one can clearly see different phases in the past decades and a new trend today. First of all, let me say that i do not know of any country or “community”, ruled by laws said to be Islamic, where i …

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Of Solidarity and Distrust: Morals as Perils in Bangladeshi Feminist Movement

Feminist scholarship and activities in Bangladesh have never had consistent agendas or check lists. Quite understandably, like the scenario in working class politics too, the activities often were a series of responses to the ever-hostile social norms and dominance of patriarchy. While I do not mean to undermine those responsive activities, I am of the …

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Reimagining Indian Universities in 2020 from an Ambedkarite Feminist lens

The struggles for becoming an egalitarian society has put Indian Universities, especially Public Universities, at the heart of the social justice debate in the previous decade (2010-2019). Social justice in India has had a long history of struggle for social and educational inclusion by communities and groups marginalized for centuries. These exclusions on the basis …

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Gender Equality and Climate Change

It is hard to walk away from today’s headlines and news stories about climate change. As large weather events become more intense, sea levels rise, wildfires become more extreme, and island nations face unsure futures, all of the world’s populations in both developing and developed countries are being forced to contend with what next? Climate …

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A Seat at the Feminism Table

The 3rd wave of feminism moves beyond focusing solely on gender identity and attempts to value the intersectionality of social identities. It also critiques the earlier waves of feminism as being exclusively focused on the experiences and needs of white, upper-middle-class women, while also assuming that all women, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, or class, …

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Role of ‘the Female’ in Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Bangladesh

When discussing or analyzing terrorism in Bangladesh, the narrative usually revolves around the “violent Islamist male” while females are overlooked. Inequality of the genders has long been institutionalized in various aspects of life. Even in crime, women are considered less capable than men. For a long time, it was thought that a woman has very …

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ARTiculating Her Voice: The Subversive Role of Women Artists in South Asia

 “It is clear that the Indian woman artist as a category does not seem to exist before the mid-1980s.” —Deeptha Achar, “Ascribing Feminist Intent: The Invention of the Indian Woman Artist” Notwithstanding some notable exceptions such as Empresses Mumtaz Mahal and Noor Jehan, the brave warrior Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, and pioneering feminist, writer, educator …

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Trans Feminism: What Is It and Why We Need It

Feminism is more than just a simple belief. It is an ideology, a socio-cultural movement and statement towards equality. The concept of feminism is broad and complex. It is an umbrella term for a lot of other sub-movements. Which is why it is extremely important for us to continue practicing intersectionality within feminism. Intersectional feminism …

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Sex, sports, travel – everything for men! | Gunel Movlud

What is the situation with equal rights in the most patriarchal country of the South Caucasus? A wish for seven sons At traditional Azerbaijani weddings, the groom’s best man ties a red band around the bride’s waist and makes a wish: ‘I want seven sons and just one daughter.’ This ritual illustrates the expectations and …

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