My memories from Bangladesh are filled with bitter-sweet moments of happiness and the urge to scream for change. I grew up not realizing I was speaking and voicing my opinions on women’s issues like a feminist would. My relatives would point out that women do not state their opinions. I grew up seeing girls my age given away in marriage. I grew up hearing about the girls I went to school with in Bangladesh, dropping out of school because their fathers could not pay for their basic education. Here I was in America going to school, having the opportunity to grow, learn, dancing freely with my mother in our apartment in New York. And I wanted all this for my fellow sisters, friends, and cousins. I was angry that this was happening to them.
I cannot sit peacefully knowing boys and girls cannot receive proper health care, access to education, and are stuck in gender roles that society has used to limit both sexes. It is time to change that.
A Google search on the term “feminism,” yields the result that feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. It should be known, though, that the true definition should not be confined to just a dictionary version of feminism. Feminism is more than a movement, it something a woman embodies in her day to day life. Each woman has her own story and reason for being a feminist. She has her own language that sculpts the meaning of feminism in ther life.
To me, feminism means that I want every girl and woman to feel safe, to feel free to voice their opinions, to have the right to their education, to have the right to choose to do whatever they want with their careers, to decide what their own version of success is, to be equal to the men who are applying for jobs and to feel proud that they are women, because I wanted all this for myself after being angry for so long. Generally, women want the same rights for their counterparts and other women. Sadly, the media portrays a very twisted and biased form of feminism that does not represent the colored women of the rest of the world. I am a colored woman, a Muslim Bengali-American fighting to change the scope of feminism typically witnessed in the West and to educate the public of the movement. I cannot do this without the women I have in my life and the intelligent women I am always surrounded by.
In order to create change, society as a whole, not just women, needs to be educated on the premise that each and every individual has a right to education, opportunities to succeed, work, empowerment, and that no individual should have to succumb to what society says is “right” for a man or woman. I would not be the person I am without the support from my own family who has supported my goals and aspirations as a woman who wants to create her own version of how her life should be.
Platform will be a place for all women of all colors, and from all aspects of life who come together to talk about the issues the public is uncomfortable with. I am platform.