This work is going to set out to investigate the relevance of feminist approaches to social work in today’s society. It will first look at the different types of feminism that are present in society. It will then trace and highlight the emergence of feminism in society. This essay will then delve deeper into the different types of approaches that were taken on by feminists within the field of social work. It will discuss what effect these approaches had on society especially women.
According to Hooks (2000) as cited in Considine and Dukelow (2009:141) “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression”. It is necessary to explain the different types of feminism that are present in society first. Freedman (2001:5) states that there are many different strands of feminism present in society, but the three most commonly recognised are liberal feminism, Marxist feminism and radical feminism, her explanation of these are as follows. Liberal feminism is based on the idea that everyone within a state should have the same rights and women should be treated equally to men. Marxist feminism is based on the belief that women’s maltreatment is linked back to capitalism. Radical feminists believe that men’s authority over women has a connection with patriarchy. The above explanation has been a brief introduction to the different types of feminism present in society. At a later stage within in this work, it will be examined what effect feminism has had on social work and society as a whole.
Now that the meaning of feminism has been ascertained and the different types of feminism present in society today highlighted it is necessary to examine the emergence of feminism. Considine and Dukelow (2009:141) argue that feminism materialised in two different periods of time when women began to fight for equal status to their male counterparts in society. The first ripple of feminism was during the 19th century and the second sweep of feminism came about during the 1960s and 1970s. “Feminism is a social movement that seeks to end women’s subordination. It holds that women’s subordination is real, that this subordination is neither natural nor necessary, and that it can and should be ended” (Alway, 1995: 211). It is evident that due to the emergence of feminism there has been a lot of progress made when it comes to equality for women and their rights.
Now that the foundations of feminism have been established it is important to investigate the changes that feminism brought about for women in society. In the Irish Constitution it states that the woman is best placed working in the home and the state would compensate her for this work (Irish Constitution, 1937: Article 41.2). This was the ideal held by many people throughout Ireland until the feminist movement occurred. Before the wheels of the feminist movement were set in motion, women were seen as inferior to men and had not many rights. This work will look at the most influential...