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The Big Story  Feminism

Women on the edge of time

What can different generations of feminists learn from one another? Leading Indian grassroots activist and author, 68-year-old Kamla Bhasin, connects with 16-year-old Londoner Lilinaz Evans, co-founder of the Twitter Youth Feminist Army. Facilitated by Hannah Pool.

Hannah Pool: How and when did you discover feminism? Kamla Bhasin: I was about 24 when I first heard the word. I am one of those women who became a feminist before she heard the word and before she heard that there were many others[women who thought like me]. After 50 years of this journey I identify with feminism in spite of the fact that it creates lots of problems because it is highly misrepresented. Lilinaz Evans: I found it through social media. It was around the 2010 [British general] election, I was 13 or 14. I got on Twitter and started asking questions. People started telling me stuff about politics. Most were women and they were talking about feminism. At first I thought, ‘Why are these strange feminists talking to me?’ But then as I learnt more about it, not from the media but from feminists themselves and reading their blogs, hearing their lived experience, I realized this is really important, I really agree with this. Kamla Bhasin: I believe that sexism is all pervading, it’s global. And if you’re born in a country that claims to have got independence,

which says that men and women are equal, then at every step you find that that is not the case. For example, today, everything is gendered. Umbrellas are gendered, watches are gendered, handkerchiefs are gendered, every damn thing. And in India we have also a very gendered language. Everything small is feminine and everything large is masculine. So this whole thing is just going from bad to worse; we cannot fight gender inequality without fighting this economic system where god is profit. Lili: I think patriarchy is a result of capitalism. That’s one of the ways that feminism is misrepresented – it’s never represented as the fight against capitalism and its products: it’s always presented as, oh I want a job. Kamla: I really admire Lili – at such a young age, how do you come to all this? I’m amazed and I want to salute you! Hannah: Lili, what are your priorities in terms of activism? Lili: Focusing on a more inclusive way of getting younger women into feminism. It shouldn’t be accepted that you’re harassed on the street, or

24 ● N e w I n t e r n at i o n a liST ● july/au gust 2 014

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