“Too often women have a great business idea but not the confidence to convert that into a plan, or the connections to turn that plan into something that works. It’s important for women to know that there are supports out there that can help them take an idea from the kitchen table to the boardroom.”
These are Deirdre McGlone’s words, a hotelier who is now helping women to build their own enterprises. In a world developing very quickly, with technology overwhelming almost our entire lives, something actually seems to remain the same: the constant fight among women have to face to see their rights respected and to be free to say (and do) what they really want. Even Western society, which praises it’s support for gender equality, often judges women’s behaviour and aspects without being aware of that. That is why many great ideas thought by women still remain in their minds, or on a kitchen table. What many of them miss is support and self confidence. Mrs McGlone also stated that “I always had a believe in myself, but how to bring that out I just didn’t know.” What they just would need is to find the courage to get out of their comfort zone and be prepared to change.
A popular weapon exploited by women to express themselves has been just picking up a pen.
Starting from Charlotte Brontë, who made humour on English society in the intimacy of her home, analysing the theme of the double and the figure of the “perfect”, angelic woman designed by social conventions, to Oriana Fallaci, writer and journalist, the only Italian one being present in Vietnam during the conflict between American army and The Vietcong. She found the courage to make interviews with powerful characters of history: Ali Bhutto in Pakistan, Haile Selassie in Etiopia, Indira Gandhi in India, Golda Meir, first female Premier of Israel, Reza Pahlavi, second to last Scià of Persia, Yassir Arafat, famous leader of Palestina, and many others.
She adopted an innovative strategy for her interviews which looked like proper interrogations and she never feared to express her critics in her writings, which caused claims of “not objective reports”, filtered with her own political thought.
Writing is also what Sabrine Ghannoudi does, in order to express her thought: by organising a writing workshop every month called Notre-Dame-des-Mots in a Tunisian coffee house. Men can also participate in the workshops. Themes like: motherhood, the nation, sexuality and taboos are predominant. Coffee houses are at the centre of feminism in Tunisia, as many of them are men only, but some women go there as well without caring. Mona Dachri Bouzaiene, a 28-year-old legal expert, has published a hidden camera video on an edgy Tunisian TV show called RDV9 about women stepping in those places.
“Gender discrimination is so common in Tunisia. Many people think that it’s abnormal to have places dedicated to men only, like those ‘popular coffee houses’. However, no one has ever said anything about it. We have been raised in a society that considers it ‘normal’ and we’ve learnt to accept it.” Some feminist movements are spreading today through Tunisia, like CHOUF and Chaml, and they work on clichés around Tunisian women which need to be torn down.
Feminist movements were also at the centre of attention during the World Cup final match between France and Croatia, as four members of the anti-Kremlin group Pussy Riot (of whom one was a man) invaded the pitch during the second half of the match, two of them managing to get at the centre and one even shaking hands with one of the football players. Their demands were “to release all political prisoners” and “stop illegal arrests at rallies”, in a country as Russia where there is no freedom of expression of thoughts and opinions for anybody.
To conclude, it is important to state so that men are often involved in these initiatives, as Petr Verzilov did by invading the Luzhniki stadium pitch together with his female companions. Feminism is in fact not only for women, but for everyone. It is a genuine competition to give all the peers the same possibilities and the same rights, in order to work together and reach a higher level, whatever their own purpose is.