I once had a heated argument with Gloria Steinem at a costume party. I should probably mention that it wasn’t really Gloria Steinem, only my brother’s friend’s aunt, and I wasn’t entirely myself either; I had chosen to impersonate a figure of superior significance, Saint Queen Margaret of Scotland. Anyway, the subject of our disagreement was transgenderism.

“Gloria,” I said, “take it from me, a medieval woman, that what you’re saying” — men should be able to legally self-identify as women — “makes no sense.”

How did we get here? This point at which liberal feminists in the West are highly motivated in the pursuit of women’s rights for men but are relatively uninterested in the millions of women around the world living as though still in the Middle Ages. This is the question most on my mind this International Women’s Day.

In the West, there has perhaps never been a better time to be a woman. We’ve had the right to vote for over 100 years. Laws protect us from sexual violence, harassment, and discrimination. We are highly educated, outperforming our male counterparts in school and at college. We are free to be professionally ambitious, free to marry whomever we’d like or not marry at all.

This is more than can be said of the poor women of Afghanistan, who enjoy neither freedom of movement nor freedom of wardrobe. Since the Taliban took control of the region in August 2021, Afghan females have been forced to wear the hijab and are forbidden to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative. Women and girls have been banned from education beyond the basics and barred from most professions. Saudi Arabia until recently prohibited women from driving.

In Africa, Asia, and across the Middle East, females are inflicted with permanent damage in the form of female genital mutilation. In Nigeria, girls can be given away as child brides to men old enough to be their grandfather, and young women of all ages are subject to forced marriages. In Pakistan, a disobedient daughter is at risk of being murdered in a so-called honor killing. In Ukraine, reports have emerged of women raped and gang-raped in war crimes.

Any serious global women’s-rights movement would acknowledge such things as the most pressing issues facing women today. But mainstream liberal feminism — the brand that gets the most funding and the most airtime — is evidently not a serious women’s-rights movement.