I'm a feminist! What about you?

Are you a feminist? It's not an easy term for everyone to get their head around - in some cultures, it comes with considerable baggage. In this blog, Youth for Change Tanzania's Athuman reflects on how he came to call himself a feminist.

I should start by admitting that for a long time the word ‘feminism’ confused me - I could never dare to stand and say am a feminist.  I know this has been the case for many of my peers, and this is in no small part  because of the misuse of the term by some ignorant people.

Two recent stories have made me re-think - this first, an interview between Emma Watson and Malala Yousafzai and the second, Canada's newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointing a new cabinet with 50% women, at the same time announcing “I am a feminist and proud to be one”.

It has been a tricky word. When I heard it the first time I heard some negative responses and positive ones. I hesitated in saying am I feminist or not? Then after hearing your speech I decided there’s no way and there is nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist. So am feminist and we all should be because feminism is another word for equality
— Malala Yousafzai

After hearing Malala speak, I asked myself: "Can I refer myself as feminist?". The answer was yes!

I was almost shocked to refer myself in that way! I told my friends, and some responded: "You fool, how do you dare to refer yourself as such cursed name?!" 

I decided to refer to the dictionary to look on the word and I found;

the advocacy of women’s rights in the grounds of political, social and economic, equality to men.
— The Oxford English Dictionary

I recalled what am I doing, to work out whether or not I fit with the word.

As a member of Youth For Change Tanzania, I dare to volunteer of my own volition to advocate for the end of child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) so that girls can realize their full potential. I dare to travel here and there, to raise community awareness on the women and girls' rights, carrying out social media campaigns to do the same. I dare to wear T-shirts with catch words like “Girl Power”, and “Mwanaume Funguka Tetea Haki Za Wanawake”, which simply means “Men Break Silence to Defend Women’s Rights”.

With all that, how could I dare to even try to say am not feminist? To do so would mean I don’t believe in gender equality, which is completely contrary to my actions.  There are so many people who do the same as I do, but will be very scared to call themselves as feminist.

I stand today to affirm that I believe in gender equality - in other words, I am a feminist. 

Lets not make it scary for people to call themselves as feminist. Believe in gender equality and create a better world for all.

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