Feminism is the advocacy of the rights of women. It explains that women have been disadvantaged compared to men and are subordinated to men because of a system of patriarchy. Patriarchy is a system of social structures and practices through which men dominate and exploit women. This implies two things. One that it is not biological characteristics but social systems that are the root of gender inequality. And second that not every individual man is necessarily in a position of domination, nor is every woman in a position of subordination. The Feminist movement involves struggles for political and legal rights and equal opportunities for women.
Patriarchy is a system of social and power relations where men dominate and control women. It is present in different institutions and structures from family to state to international relations. Patriarchy varies according to different social systems and cultures. Patriarchy determines relations between men and women, between individuals, social groups, communities and social formations. Patriarchy has existed at different periods of times from pre-history, ancient societies, feudalism, and capitalism and is part of the globalization process. As each stage it has had its specific characteristic and intersects with all prevailing concepts like nationalism, militarism and religion. Patriarchy is a pervasive ideology but one that has been challenged and contested.
Feminism incorporates many strands from the liberal, radical, socialist, and post-modernist feminists. However, a commonality in their judgment exists that gender inequalities continue to exist and that in gender roles the “private” and “natural” role assigned to women serves to make their work and labor invisible. This is not only perpetuates unequal relations but also distorts the understanding of the most pressing problems of the world. Feminist emphasize the process of democracy as integral for gaining rights. Most feminist challenge the doctrine of essentialism that casts women with a fixed identity, i.e. women as essentially peaceful and men as aggressors. Such projections are used in ultra-nationalist projects and dangerous political agendas. Feminists have critiqued the state, concept of power and theories of International Relations (IR) and national security doctrines. Feminism is linked with movements for women’s rights and gender equality.