The UN’s International Day of Peace: Why It Matters To Us All

“When the power of love overcomes our love of power, the world will know peace.” – Jimi Hendrix 

Peace. It’s one of those words which is thrown around here there and everywhere. Along with a cute little hand gesture which seems to sneak in to all of my photos, myself, along with many others would say that they wish to see the world become a more peaceful one. But if you watch the news, you would think that this world is anything but peaceful. From civil wars, a refugee crisis, poverty, the rise of terrorist groups and a growing gap between the rich and the poor, it’s easy to believe that peace is unreachable. But we cannot accept this. We mustn’t. Because the second we give up hope, is the moment that peace escapes from us. There are many types of peace and there are many forms it takes… but the most important thing is that we believe that peace is achievable. 

Winston Churchill peacing out. Source
Winston Churchill peacing out. Source

So what can I do to bring peace to the world?

Find inner peace. Before you can possibly start to try to bring peace to the world, you first must be at peace with yourself. And it’s not an easy thing to do. It involves knowing your flaws, your weaknesses and knowing what you can do to always be improving yourself. I’m still trying to find inner peace. By not being so judgemental of myself when I look in the mirror, by trying to accept the fact that not everyone I meet in life is going to like me (and that’s not my fault) and by realising that I am unique and it’s up to me to share my voice, my values, and my views with the world.

Discover what makes you feel peaceful. This one’s a little bit easier. Ask yourself… what do you do that makes you lose track of time and forget about the stresses of everyday life? Personally, it’s listening to music, reading a book, going for a bike ride to the beach, blogging, being with friends or doing yoga. All of these things are just as important in my life as the big things like my job and studying. Without these things, I’d be full of stress and anxiety, and it’s by doing these things often that I can actually deal with the stresses of every day life.

The ocean always makes me lose track of time
The ocean always makes me lose track of time. Source

Dignity for all. This is the theme for the UN’s International Peace Day. Dignity is also one of those words which is often thrown around and not many people may realise the significance and power of dignity. Dignity is defined as ‘the quality of being worthy of honour and respect’ (Dictionary.com) and don’t you think if we all treated everyone with dignity, the world would be a better place? Dignity is not only about the respect you give to yourself but also to others, so never lose sight of the fact that underneath all of the wealth or material things we have, we are all born as equals and we should continue to treat everyone else this way too.

Try and spread the peace. Feeling extra happy or peaceful today? Try and spread it. You never know what someone else is going through so why not offer to give them a hand, ask if they’re OK, invite them to one of your beach adventures… you never know how far some kind words can travel.

And the least you can do to help keep the world a peaceful place, as Mother Teresa said Peace begins with a smile.” 

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Why It’s OK to be a Bad Feminist

Feminism has copped a lot of slack lately. It is now a term of derision and many people say ‘I believe in equlality, but I don’t identify as a feminist.’  There’s such a big anti-feminist movement that when you google feminist, one of the first things that appear is the website ‘Women against Feminism.’ And when did it become a bad thing to be a feminist? Perhaps the following video could be fuelling the anti-feminist fire.

Unfortunately, this has been watched over 700 000 times broadcasting incorrect and damaging information about feminism. Feminism has nothing to do with giving entitlements to women or trying to make them superior to men as she suggests in her I’m not a feminist because… photo. And that’s why knowing what feminism is and what it stands for is so important. And this is the same woman who claims that ‘the west does not have a rape culture.’ She has been misled to believe that feminism is a women only movement, and by her spreading this message to such a large audience, can be detrimental for feminism and what it stands for.

Emma Watson delivering her speech at the launch of the He For She Campaign. Source
Emma Watson delivering her speech at the launch of the He For She Campaign. Source

If you weren’t living under a shell last year, you would have heard Emma Watson’s speech for the UN’s He For She Campaign, which addresses the crucial role that men play in the feminist movement. And this is the most important part, men and women should work together to overcome gender inequality because men suffer from being ‘imprisoned by gender stereotypes’ as well (Watson, 2014). So, to clear up some things;

Feminism is not: ‘laziness, bitching on Tumblr and policing other people’s free speech’ (1), demonizing men (2) or special treatment (3)’ (women against feminism)

Feminism is: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.

Source.
Source.

Many people are under the impressions that ‘they don’t need feminism because gender inequality doesn’t exist in our society’ or as Kayley Cuoco said ‘I’m not a feminist because I’ve never experienced inequality(Jones, 2014). Just because you personally don’t experience inequality, it doesn’t mean it’s not real. The UN’s Millenium Development Goals 2015 Report highlights that gender inequality is still experienced world-wide.

Women continue to face discrimination in access to work, economic assets and participation in private and public decision-making. Women are also more likely to live in poverty than men. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the ratio of women to men in poor households increased from 108 women for every 100 men in 1997 to 117 women for every 100 men in 2012, despite declining poverty rates for the whole region.’ (UN, 2015)

Germain Greer who is a leading Australian feminist, actually says that it is important that we don’t define feminism because by defining it, we are giving it limitations. ‘It’s important that feminism is allowed to evolve and change over time.’ (reference Q&A video) which can hopefully help overcome it’s exclusivity. However * argues that by having a more ‘dynamic definition it will enhance understanding and significance among men and women’ (Offen, 1988). This highlights the different ideas people associate with feminism and why it isn’t so simple to define or easily agreed upon.

Feminism is also generally associated with white, middle class women and excludes a person of colour or anyone else that doesn’t fit the criteria. Roxane Gay is what she calls a ‘Bad Feminist,’ because she does not fit the ‘traditional characteristics’ of a feminist of ‘being all, and having it all.’ Of course this raises many other questions regarding racism, however in the following TED talk, she discusses feminism and why she is a ‘Bad Feminist.’

The most significant part of her talk is where she proudly says ‘we can boldly claim our feminism. I’d rather be a bad feminist than no feminism because feminism gave me a voice.’ So regardless of what we call it, this is why we need it.

Personally, I am a feminist because I believe that all children have a right to education. Because women deserve the right to make decisions regarding their own body. Because I don’t want to be objectified or sexualised. Because men and women should work together to achieve equality. Because I am a young women who should have the opportunity to accomplish my dreams.

This is what a feminist looks like. Source
This is what a feminist looks like. Source

References

Jones, A 2014, ‘I’m not a feminist and I love feeling like a housewife’, Gawker, 12 December, http://gawker.com/kaley-cuoco-im-not-a-feminist-and-i-love-feeling-like-1676352429

Offen, K 1988, ‘Defining Feminism: A Comparative Historical Approach’, Signs, Chicago Journals, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 119-157

The United Nations Millenium Development Goals Report 2015, http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/2015_MDG_Report/pdf/MDG%202015%20rev%20(July%201).pdf

Further Information

Emma Watson’s speech

Q&A’s all women panel on How to be a Feminist

Feminism is not Fallacious

‘For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.’ – Emma Watson

Miss Emma Watson with General Ban-Ki moon
Miss Emma Watson with General Ban-Ki moon

Recently, there has been a big hype around the dreaded or welcomed word – FEMINISM. Especially after actress, Emma Watson, delivered a powerful speech to the UN this week. Whilst people in the 21st Century might have mixed feelings towards the word, it is by no means a new word or concept. Feminism started in the 1800’s, and we have authors such as the brilliant Mary Shelley (and her activist mother) to push for equality. Yet fast forward 200 years and inequality – not just towards women – is still a prominent issue.

I will admit, like Emma herself, I too have been absolutely privileged to be born healthy, into a kind and loving family, in Australia, one of the safest countries in the world and attend primary and high school, and now be at university. I am incredibly grateful and appreciative of what I have been given and as Emma says, I feel a sort of responsibility to help those who don’t or won’t have access to these things.

For a long time now, I have believed in EQUALITY of all kinds. Yet one thing I didn’t understand was why Feminism, supporting gender equality, was such a taboo topic. As soon as you mention the word, people roll their eyes and groan, assuming you’re a lesbian who doesn’t shave her legs or armpits and hates men. And this is why I’m thankful that someone as beautiful, intelligent and powerful as Emma has set the record straight.

I agree that equality requires EVERYONE. Men, women, boys and girls, from all countries, religions, races and beliefs… everyone. And by uniting together, we can conquer more than gender inequality, but maybe even hunger, access to clean water, deforestation, domestic violence… the opportunities are endless. On one condition… we unite together for a better world.

I feel that the most powerful part of her speech came down to these simple words. ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’ We can apply this not only to social issues like gender inequality, but to every aspect of our lives. Personally, I’ll be sure to ask myself these questions when I am writing and trying to achieve anything I set my mind to.

I feel saddened that people have opposed her address, even with a Emma, You’re Next, website being launched, counting down the days, hours and minutes until her apparent nude photos are leaked. This is just highlighting the predatory nature some men possess over women, and I think it’s pathetic and I’m sure Emma does too. Regardless of whether or not nude photos exist is not the issue. The issue is sharing private explicit photos of women on the Internet. This is a form of sexual assault and harassment and shouldn’t be tolerated in our society. And to be honest, if it were the explicit nudes of the men behind this website, all it would do it prove that they must have small, unimpressive and disappointing dicks and personalities.

My name is Adelaide. I am a feminist because I believe in not only gender equality, but equality for all people.

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