TO Praise and Glorify that over 1500 years ago - The final prophet for mankind - Prophet  MUHAMMAD [PBUH] - informed the world and gave all women the highest and full and exalted rights.

''In the highest of honours and service of your carings for your great and very precious mothers - lies the Heavens.''

Searching for a definition : For a term that was first coined in 1837, ''feminism'' was a surprisingly chosen as Merriam Webster's Word of the Year for 2017.

Defined as ''the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes,'' it was the top searched word that year, seeing a 70% increase from 2016.

This came on the heels of the Global Women's March and revelations about producer Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual harassment of women in Hollywood.

The Women's march meanwhile were demonstrations that were held worldwide on January 21, 2017, supporting gender equality, civil rights, and other issues that were expected to face challenges under then newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump.

Feminist theorists themselves have long debated the scope of the word's definition.

One of the pithier definition comes from American writer and feminist activist Marie Shear, who wrote in 1986 that ''Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.''

Incontinuation of time comes France and The World Students Society honours French Philosopher Charles Fourier, who turned 250 years old this month. This intellectual giant who went to coin the word 'feminism'.

One would not be far wrong to say that Francois Marie Charles Fourier was quite the radical for his time. 

Born 250 years ago, on April 7, 1772, in Besancon, France, Charles Fourier was the son of a businessman who didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps but instead wanted to become an engineer. However, this field of education back then was open only to the sons of France's noblemen, according to DW.

Later when he became a philosopher and utopian socialist, he was said to have expressed relief for having opted not to pursue engineering as it would have consumed too much of his time and distracted him from his true calling : to help humanity.

Among the causes he furthered was the equal treatment of women, and Fourier is credited with having given the cause its name - ''feminisme'' - in 1837.

Fourier perceived the institution of marriage in France back then as oppressive towards women. He also argued that women should be given equal access to important work based on skill and aptitude rather than on account of gender.

''Social progress and changes of historical period take place in proportion to the advance of women toward liberty, and social decline occurs as a result of the diminution of the liberty of women,'' he said.

''Feminism'' and its offshoots, ''feminist'' would, in turn, spur various global feminist actions through the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, which historians often refer to as ''waves of feminism.''

The first involved the women's suffrage movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries, advocating women's right to vote, while the send wave that began in the 1960s, dealt with the women's liberation movement, which rallied for legal and social equality for women.

The third wave took place in or around 1992 and focused more on individuality and diversity.

And the fourth is said to have begun around 2012, with social media being used to highlight and fight  sexual harassment, violence against women and rape culture, leading up to the viral Me Too movement.

While inroads have been made, much remains to be done on feminist issues such as reproductive health choices, equality in education and employment, gender pay gaps, sexual harassment, violence against women, and rape culture.

The terms ''feminism'' and ''feminist'' have been both embraced and shunned - the latter by even some women themselves  -for the varied and sometimes negative implications that they have carried over time.

Undoubtedly the length and breath of ''feminism'' will keep evolving over time. For example, the present-day activists are advocating for a broad-based feminism that just doesn't address the concerns of white women.

 The World Students Society thanks author and researcher The Express Tribune.


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