Feminism still has a long way to go.
Feminism still has a long way to go. knape

OPINION: Yes, we still need feminism - and this is why

MANY people in the Western world deny the need for feminism nowadays.

As many people celebrated International Women's Day this week, I heard many others decrying it.

A lot of people believe women are already equal and that the fight now is to push men out.

But I wonder if men would agree with the kind of equality that is meant to be blindly accepted by women if they were on the receiving end of it.

An equality that means accepting that sometimes a man will get a great job or a higher wage just because he is a man.

Accepting that women will have less superannuation at the end of her working life because she took a couple of years off to raise children.

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I know at this point many of you will be barking at me that having maternity leave - and deciding on the length of maternity leave - is a woman's choice.

How true.

But the country we live in today isn't going to fare very well with its ageing population unless we have another generation coming through that is educated, nurtured and cared for.

And shouldn't we value the people who are doing the nurturing and the caring?

In most cases, according to every scrap of research that has ever been done, that's the woman.

Should we really let her fall behind her male counterparts then tell her too bad, it was her choice?

She's doing three hours more childcare a week than her partner.

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She's doing, on average, six hours more housework a week.

And caring for her elderly parents? You guessed it.

That, by and large, falls onto women as well.

I don't know why we think it's so great to have a son when it's our daughters who will be looking after us when we can't look after ourselves anymore.

Things are changing and it would be remiss of me not to mention that.

In the past year especially there have been great strides when it comes to calling out sexual harassment in the workplace.

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There's more emphasis on equality and diversity in the workplace now than ever before.

And every tweet from every men's rights activist seems to give a feminist a new platform to confront the patriarchy.

We are calling out victim blaming and rape culture more often than ever before.

But if anything, I think feminism needs to get bigger and more encompassing.

While the issues of equal caregiving, housework and wages are important - as well as women living free from the threat of sexual assault and harassment - I think we sometimes forget that there are women doing a whole lot worse than those living in Western communities.

In some countries female genital mutilation is still all the rage.

It is estimated that more than 200 million women worldwide have undergone the procedure.

In Saudi Arabia, women have only just been given the right to drive.

But they still can't marry, divorce, travel, get a job or have elective surgery without permission from their male guardians.

They can't mix freely with men, with authorities ordering shops employing both men and women to build "separation walls" in 2013.

They can't appear in public without wearing a full-length public abaya, retain custody of their children in a divorce after children reach the age of seven for boys and nine for girls, eat at restaurants without a designated family section or receive an equal inheritance.

You don't even have to go as far as Saudi Arabia to talk about the work that still needs to be done to improve the lives of women.

One in five Aboriginal women have faced physical violence in the past year, compared to seven per cent of non-Indigenous women.

Aboriginal women, on average, will die almost a decade earlier than non-Indigenous women.

Yes, we need to keep fighting the good fight for feminism.

But I think we need to be more conscious of the women who are being left behind.

I'm not downplaying the many issues yet to be solved in Western nations.

But we need to fight for women in far worse circumstances too and advocate for their rights, health and wellbeing in any way we can.