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.

Claudia Bratsberg-Olsen

Are Women’s Rights Tangible and Real in Our Days?

The United Nations declaration guarantees equal rights for women and men. All major international human rights instruments stipulate that discrimination based on sex should be terminated. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1979. There are only eight countries …

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নারীবাদ ১০১- মিথ এবং অন্যান্য

Feminism 101: Myths and Other Things | Nadia Islam English Summary: The myths that we hear, the myths that we believe, the myths that we live on a daily basis as women – those are myths indeed. The myths that spread through Goebbels Theory by the patriarchal capitalist world that is anxious over nothing but masculinity …

নারীবাদ ১০১- মিথ এবং অন্যান্য Read More »

নারীবাদ ও সাহিত্যতত্ত্ব

Feminism and Literature | Rokhsana Chowdhury English Summary: The second wave of feminism brought about a new section of literary criticism. The emergence of the genre came from the patriarchal views within literature, which represented women as subordinate and marginalized. Mainly male-written literature portrayed women as weak or as soft characters with no significant role. …

নারীবাদ ও সাহিত্যতত্ত্ব Read More »

নারী, যারে দেখতে নারি

Women, Look at the Women | Leesa Gazi English Summary: The stigma around sexual violence is monstrous. The status of ‘shoti’ (virgin/faithful) determines the moral character of any woman in South Asian culture. She is judged by it. Her worth depends on it. So she is labelled as ‘impure’ or ‘sinful’ when she is raped: …

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বিস্মরণের কাল – বাঙালি মেয়ের সত্যিকার পরিচয় কারা তৈরি করেছিলেন?

A Time of Remembrance: Who Created the True Identity of the Bengali Woman? | Yashodhara Ray Chaudhuri English Summary: In this article, Yashodhara Ray Chaudhuri recounts the struggle of the initial days of women writing to clear the path for women’s emancipation, especially 1900s to 1920s and 30s. The battles fought by several women intellectuals …

বিস্মরণের কাল – বাঙালি মেয়ের সত্যিকার পরিচয় কারা তৈরি করেছিলেন? Read More »

নারী নির্যাতন প্রতিরোধে যূথবদ্ধ আন্দোলন নেই কেন?

Why is there no effective movement against the oppression of women? | Supriti Dhar English Summary: Is the women’s movement in South Asia restricted to the middle class only? Such a question is often heard. Additionally, there are allegations that women’s movements in South Asia practice class discrimination. It is alleged that most of the …

নারী নির্যাতন প্রতিরোধে যূথবদ্ধ আন্দোলন নেই কেন? Read More »

নারীবাদী আন্দোলনের প্রাসঙ্গিকতা: ব্যক্তিগত নাকি রাজনৈতিক?

Relevance of the feminist movement: Personal or political? | Bithy Soptorshi English Summary: The feminist movement is part of politics in the West from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. The Indian subcontinent could not go that far. Here, the feminist movement had to take different approaches. In the modern state of Bangladesh, the biggest …

নারীবাদী আন্দোলনের প্রাসঙ্গিকতা: ব্যক্তিগত নাকি রাজনৈতিক? Read More »

নারীর লড়াই আত্মপোলব্ধি, অস্তিত্ব ও আত্ম-মর্যাদা রক্ষার স্বার্থে

Women’s Struggle for Self-fulfillment, Survival, and Confidence | Shamim Runa English Summary: Women need to achieve the freedom they deserve by themselves. For that they need to have self-awareness. A feminist or a feminist organization cannot just hand out a present named “freedom” to women. To create this self-awareness and self-respect among women, women need …

নারীর লড়াই আত্মপোলব্ধি, অস্তিত্ব ও আত্ম-মর্যাদা রক্ষার স্বার্থে Read More »

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