Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Meghan Markle, India, Stigma, and Opportunity for Women (including in the West)

Meghan Markle, actress and girlfriend of Prince Harry, recently talked about her trip to India earlier this year, and remarked upon how stigma surrounding menstruation there has meant lack of access to proper sanitation for girls and women. This in turn means that their opportunities to undertake education and sport are limited, and their potential is often not realised.

It's an issue I think women in the West should pay more attention to.

It also highlights how important it is to remove stigma around things that are just natural, and just a normal part of life otherwise. Stigmatization is the path to oppression. Rational, taboo-free discussion is the path to end the stigma.

Once upon a time, there was strong stigma around the idea of women having careers. Working women who were married and/or mothers were particularly stigmatized. Luckily, waves of activitism, discussion and awareness has changed this forever, at least in the West. We do need to keep in mind that this situation still exists in many other parts of the world, and is something we should work to change. Coming back to the West, however, nowadays, we should probably be more concerned about the stigma surrounding stay-at-home mothers, and the false idea that they contribute less to society. Ideas like these have prevented many women, who would otherwise have taken up this option, from doing what they really want to, and the stigmatization has meant this issue is rarely even discussed or explored in our collective conversation, including in feminist circles. It's time this changed.