In the past few years we have seen waves of powerful movements wash over countries, regions and the world. From the #MeToo movement that shed light on sexual harassment and assaults to the global climate strike started by a lone teenager Greta Thunberg, we’re witnessing girls and women on the forefront of activism for human rights, social justice, gender equality and climate action. 

So, how do you build a successful movement? What can we learn from the girls and women who have led impactful movements of change around the world?

There are a few things that I have taken away from the women and girls that I look up to who have recently made significant strides to make this world a more just, equal and safe place. They inspire me to stay on course and I hope that these learnings can inspire you to also be an unstoppable force for good. 

1. Know the facts and speak the truth

“Sometimes I have a competition with myself to find the most absurd conspiracy theory. Because they go after things like my personality and how I am, how I look, how I behave. That is just a sign that you are winning and that they don’t have any more arguments to go after you. They cannot argue, because I am only saying what the science is saying. You can’t argue against physics.” says Greta Thunberg in this incredibly inspiring interview with Naomi Klein by The Intercept. She speaks about how she prepares her speeches with help from experts and how she manages trolls, because she knows the facts. Greta has become one of the world’s greatest truth tellers. 

2. Share stories and speak to the heart

We need to know the facts, but for far too long, that has not been enough. It is more often the stories that move you to act, because they speak to our hearts and help us identify our common ground as people. Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for wanting an education. She was one of 66 million girls worldwide who was deprived of an education. When she stood up and shared her story, and the stories of others, a global movement for education was born. 

Sharing our stories are powerful. The #MeToo movement spread like a wave of unburdening a deadly silence. Women shared stories, exposing secrets, trauma and shame that they had carried alone for years. Somehow, simply saying the words ‘me too’ was a relief. Yet sharing stories publicly can be traumatic. Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, spoke at the Women Deliver conference this year. She said that each of us have the power to decide if, how and where to tell our stories. 

Do you want to share your story? Go to SayItForward.orgthe platform where every woman & girl is encouraged to share her remarkable and unique story of overcoming the fears, personal beliefs, or circumstances that have held her back. Through the power of storytelling, Say It Forward celebrates the strength, determination and triumphs of girls and women on their path to empowerment.

3. Find solidarity for your movement

“Black People, I love you. I love us. We matter. Our Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter.”

This was the post that Alicia Garza, the co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, wrote on Facebook as she wanted to find love in a place that was hurting in the aftermath of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Alicia, together with Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors founded a movement to create space for people to tell their stories, to collaborate, to strategize and to build power to break free. There is strength and power in working together, and we are not put on this earth to do the work alone. 

4. Manage your anger and your wellbeing

You have the right to be angry. You have the right to react. When we are dealing with injustice, abuse, discrimination and intolerance, we have the right to feel our emotions. Yet, when it comes to creating a movement of change, we must learn to manage our anger and communicate clearly with others. I had the opportunity to ask the question about how to deal with anger to Ailbhe Smyth, the leader of the pro-choice movement that lead to an overturn of the anti-abortion legislation in Ireland. This movement was led by compassion and not anger.

“I really don’t think you can deal with people who are, themselves, very angry.” says Ailbhe Smyth, former director for Together for Yes. Listen to her talk about how to build movements, recorded from my phone from the press conference at Women Deliver 2019. 

Our emotions are not our enemy (something that I am trying to teach myself). This is true, even when we speak to global leaders. An absolutely brilliant example of this is Greta Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations. She is fueled with emotion, yet she is clear in her message to world leaders: ‘How dare you?’ 

“When I am around too many people, I just shut off my brain, in a way to not get too tired, because I cannot take everything in. It’s hard to be the center of attention; I don’t like that. I have to tell myself it’s for a good cause. I am trying to say something with all this attention, to use my platform to do something good.” – said Greta Thunberg in this interview with The Atlantic. 

When pushing for a cause a lot greater than ourselves, the burden is large – and sometime too heavy a load to carry. We need to find spaces for self-care and solidarity. With the rise of mental illness, depression and burnouts, our prioritizations need to be reflected upon from time to time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

We want to support your movement – will you support ours?

All of these girls and women, and so many many more, are leaders that are changing the world and showing us how to build movements of impact. Yet, only 1 in 4 people heard or read about in the news are women. To make things worse, women and girls are objectified and marginalized in media, making our struggles even more difficult.

At Girls’ Globe we want to change this! We amplify the voices of girls and women to strengthen human rights, social justice and gender equality. We are here to support the movements you want to build, create more space for your voice to be heard and make a dramatic shift in the global online media landscape. 

Here are ways you can be a part of this movement of ours: 
  • Share your movement with us and let us help you amplify it! Contact us here.
  • Raise your voice. Share your perspective on things happening in your community or around the world. Your voice matters. You can become a blogger here
  • Become a member organization. We invite organizations that work to strengthen the health and rights of women and girls, or women-led movements to become members of Girls’ Globe. That we we can help amplify your work and your organization takes a strong stand for the voices of women and girls worldwide. Find out more!
  • Subscribe and share posts by women and girls worldwide. The more our traffic grows, the more the world wide web will see the voices of women and girls as an authority in their rankings of the overflow of media content online. When you share a post, you’re not only sharing that post, you’re helping women and girls to be heard in this overly crowded Internet of ours. Stay up to date here and engage with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
  • Make a donation. Our organization is not powered by ads or by investors, we are young women led media movement, and all the support we can get matters. Consider giving up a coffee each month and make a monthly donation to Girls’ Globe instead. In the world of internet trolls, Cambridge Analytica, climate deniers, and fake news – your donation really makes a difference. Donate today!

We’re still learning about how to build movements of global positive change, and we hope you will join us on this journey. Girls’ Globe is truly about solidarity and amplifying the positive change makers that inspire others to act. We know that our stories and our voices matter and we know that yours does too. 

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Category: Rights    Sheroes
Tagged with: Alicia Garza    Greta Thunberg    Malala Yousafzai    Opal Tometi    Patrisse Cullors    Tarana Burke

Julia Wiklander

@juliasglobe

Julia is the Founder and President of Girls' Globe. She is optimistic about our world's future and the power of solidarity and storytelling. Julia is an economist and entrepreneur.

See more posts from Julia Wiklander