But first, let’s clarify what I think of as Feminist Leadership, because I think there is indeed a difference between Feminist Leadership, and leadership by women. They are not the same thing, but they are definitely not mutually exclusive.
To me, a Feminist Leader wants to achieve social transformation: they want to achieve gender equality so that women are treated as human beings with equal rights and equal opportunities to men.
Second wave feminism from the 70’s – of which women like me were the beneficiaries-‐ was often criticised for being about white middle class women, for leaving behind indigenous women, women of colour and those with disability or of other cultures.
Many of those criticisms were unfair, and were part of the conservative backlash that tried to sully the entire notion of feminism. However, when thinking about Feminist Leadership today, we need to learn from our history, and ensure that our approach to change does take an ‘intersectional approach’, that we look at the impacts of race, ethnicity, culture and religion as we think about gender inequality.
It saddens me that women who have benefitted from the work of those who came before them feel they can’t embrace the ongoing work of driving towards gender equality, or use the phrase ‘feminist’, which is simply about advocating for women to be treated as equal human beings. Those women who came before us ensured that we have the right to vote, the right to education, the right to control our reproductive destiny, and without those achievements, we would not even be at the table.