Emmeline Pankhurst’s great-granddaughter Helen Pankhurst on defining feminism

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Orla Dean, 5, holds a placard during the Time’s Up rally at Richmond Terrace, opposite Downing Street on January 21, 2018 in London.

People worldwide have stepped up and called themselves a feminist, from activists on the streets to famous personalities such as Nobel Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and actors Emma Watson and Justin Baldoni.

And a greater understanding of what it means to be a feminist in today’s society is on the rise, but issues still remain.

For instance, the Fawcett Society published its Sex Equality: State of the Nation report in January 2016, which states that 67 percent of the 8,000-plus U.K. citizens surveyed were sympathetic to feminism, with even more wanting equality for all sexes; however, only 7 percent considered themselves a feminist.

Yet a change of thought can take shape — take Yousafzai, for example. At the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January, the activist told a crowd that when she first heard the term feminism, she thought it was a tricky phrase due to messages she’d seen that suggested it was about female superiority rather than equality.

“I just looked more into it and I realized that feminism is just another word for equality — it means equality and no-one would object equality, no one should object equality and it just means that women should have equal rights as men,” Yousafzai said.

It’s this initial step of embracing the word feminist that is “really important,” Pankhurst said. “So for me, it’s a really important first step about saying, ‘I believe that there is gender [inequality] and there is still something we need to do, that we need to address.”

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