Five Feminist Resolutions for 2017

2017 has already proven to be a tough year for feminists. And we can expect to be tried and tested for the many months to come. As we look to the coming battles, here are five feminist New Year’s resolutions:

1. Show up

After more than four million feminists showed up for the Women’s March on Washington and the 300+ sister marches globally, it is safe to say we are getting good at this one. But, it is crucial we continue to show up for what we believe in. Whether that be to continue marching, or to meet other feminists in your city, or to support feminist films, books, and concerts. While social media is an incredibly powerful tool to link the global community, cultivating a physical community is equally important and special. In 2017, let’s make sure we are there for our fellow females, and remember that together we are stronger.

2. Volunteer

Alongside showing up for events, protests, and meet-ups, we must continue to support the incredible work of Planned Parenthood, ACLU, National Organization for Women, and even Girls’ Globe. You can make a difference with your money, time, or simply advocating for an organization in your own network. Many of these organizations will come under threat over the course of the Trump Administration and we cannot let that happen. Whatever level of participation you can commit to helps, and a little empathy and altruism never hurt anybody.

3. Speak up

Silence is acceptance. And if there was ever a time we needed to elevate women’s voices, it’s now. Contrary to what some have said, words do matter. And words have impact. If we collectively speak up about what we believe in, what we value, and what is not okay to us, we will be heard. It is so easy to accept and internalize the patriarchy that surrounds us, but we cannot let it get us down. We can be empowered by our collective experiences and rather than commiserate, we can rise up. With every social media post, face-to-face conversation, video on Million Women’s Voices, and blog post written we will slowly, but surely dismantle the patriarchy.

4. Educate

I do not know everything. You do not know everything. No one knows everything. But to be an effective ally we must know the facts. In the spirit of intersectionality, we must remember that women’s rights, our legal system, our criminal justice system, our environment, and our public policies are all connected. While you certainly do not have to fight for every issue, knowing the facts is a solid step to continuing effective advocacy.   While certain pieces of the media have simply disregarded the truth as “alternative facts,” it is important to know why we fight, how we fight, and the statistics behind it. With the advent of fake news and spun falsehoods in our social media sphere, it can be easy to end up in a Facebook feud over what is true.

5. Self care

Being a wild feminist in 2017 will not be easy and in fighting all our fights, remember to take care of yourself. Fighting the patriarchy is a lifelong battle, and it does the movement no good for you to burn out. So when you’re feeling down, take a bubble bath, cuddle with your kitten, pop on a feminist film on Netflix. Staying motivated, passionate, and driven is exhausting, so after a long day subverting patriarchal paradigms, treat yourself.

One New Year’s Resolution to Keep: True Solidarity

Women aren’t free until all women are free. Our rights are not fulfilled until all of our rights are met. It is time for us to take things personally and it is time to show true solidarity.

Girls’ Globe is all about raising the voices of women and girls and sharing inspirational stories to create lasting change. We bridge the gap between cultures and communities and have become a global network of young women and grassroots organizations working tirelessly to improve the lives of women and girls in their communities. We also bridge the gap between young women and international decision-makers, creating meaningful meetings for young women to hold leaders accountable and for leaders to learn from true changemakers. We know that more needs to be done – especially after this year.

2016 has been full of scary events that have deprived people of their dignity, rights and lives, and it is more important than ever to stand together and stand up for each other. We cannot move forward if some of us are held back. We need to realize our interconnectedness.

As I look ahead to the new year, I am filled with hopes for a fresh start and to leave some things behind. This week, my good friends and I will be sitting down for a goal-setting evening, where we will discuss S.M.A.R.T. goals to stay healthy, motivated, and engaged. I know that I am a dreamer, an optimist and a true believer of positive change, and although some may call it hopeless, I have seen firsthand how goal-setting has led to real breakthroughs and lasting change.

If there is one goal we should be setting this year, it is this one: show true solidarity by taking action for other people’s rights in my everyday life and through online activism. 

Now, this is not very Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant or Time-bound, so, let’s break it down.

Let’s be specific.

When it comes to showing solidarity, it is often found in the little things related to showing another individual that you see their struggle and that you want to support them. Now, one person can’t do everything, but we can all do something. Often times it is related to speaking out when you see something that is wrong. Here are a few examples:

  • Talk about the rights of women, girls, minorities, refugees, and LGBTQ individuals, with your friends, colleagues, and family. Talk about it during lunch and even at your New Year’s Dinner Party. Don’t let fear stop you from saying something, even if you know that the person you are speaking to doesn’t share your sentiment. Alyssa Singer, Senior Account Executive at Fenton gives some handy tips for difficult conversations (related to the US election, but can be used in many other situations too).
  • Raise your voice and speak out when you see someone being discriminated against, if you’re afraid call for help or report it.
  • Sign petitions that show your support for other people’s equal rights and opportunities.
  • Treat everyone with dignity and worthiness. Smile and say hi to the beggar outside of your supermarket and offer to help in some way.
  • Get engaged through a human rights organization, mobilize more people to do the same.
  • Donate to causes that strengthen the rights of minorities and support refugees 

Now, let’s make it measurable and time-bound.

This goal can be quantified in several different ways to measure success, e.g. number of times I have been in uncomfortable situations because I have stood up for someone else’s rights, number of actions I’ve taken online or that I’ve spoken with my family about something important and found an organization to volunteer with. Choose to quantify or measure this in a way that works for you, to make it both achievable and relevant to your life.   

The most important thing in setting a goal and resolution that is achievable is by setting sub-goals that are time-bound. I am going to take these thoughts with me to my friend’s dinner party this week and specify sub-goals with due dates. I am going to share these with my friends, family and colleagues for accountability and to gain extra support to help me keep them.

Solidarity has nothing to do with being comfortable and content – it is time for us to take action – be bold, brave and dare to do the things that you once did not believe you could. The best thing about solidarity is that you’re not alone, you have an army of peaceful activists and friends who will support, encourage and inspire you to take action, and it is easier than ever before to get connected!

As we go into 2017, I’m excited about what lies ahead for Girls’ Globe – we are a growing global community of true changemakers and I know that we are making a real difference.

Video Credit: Creative Director // Kimberly Graf, Film Director // Tiffany Jackman, Director of Photography / Editing // Skyler Whitehead, Whirlwind Productions LLC

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Five Ways to Promote Gender Equality in 2016

We are only few days away from New Year’s eve, and the air is filled with the exciting promise of the endless possibilities of the new year. The chance to start over, clean the slate, make resolutions about being a better You – perhaps related to a healthier lifestyle, spending less money, being better at keeping in touch with family and relatives, exercising more, spending less time on the internet, learning a new skill. Resolutions often reflect the person we think we would like to be – an ideal version of Me.

This New Year’s, perhaps you can make a resolution to do one thing in 2016 to promote gender equality in your community. It doesn’t need to be anything big or grand, because even the smallest of things can make a huge difference in a person’s life – and, the smallest of actions are often the catalyst for a bigger wave of change and progress. Here are five suggestions on how You can step up for gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights in 2016. Make this a part of your list of promises for this New Year – and if we all manage to do even one of these things, we can all be a part of building a better world for women and girls.

1. See something? Say something.

It may be almost 2016, but sadly sexual violence and violence against women and girls is still commonplace and rampant almost everywhere in the world. Sometimes it can seem like a small thing – a man making a sexist comment when passing a woman on the street, a stranger making unwanted approaches to a woman on public transport, a friend of yours saying something misogynistic on social media. But these “small” things all promote a culture where women and girls are not valued. They send a message that it is okay to treat women and girls badly, that it is acceptable to devalue us, to dehumanize us – and that, in turn, paves the way for much more serious violations of women’s and girls’ rights, security and autonomy. So don’t stay silent – step up when you witness such behavior. Raise your voice against sexism, misogyny and patriarchy. Ask us for help, and we will support you – as will thousands and thousands of others who are tired of a world where sexism and violence are accepted and normalized. It is time to say “No more!”

2. Use your Vote

Voting is such an important way to influence the societies we live in. Remember that no election is too small to matter – starting from the smallest of local elections all the way to the Presidential ones, each election will determine the people in charge of creating policies, budgets, guidelines and laws that influence the world we live in. In 2016, find our where your candidates stand on women’s and girls’  rights and gender equality issues and make sure to use your vote in every election that is happening in your community and country. Vote for people who are not afraid to talk about the challenges women and girls continue to face, and who have a clear plan on how to improve the status of gender equality in your country.

3. Raise or donate money for a cause that promotes gender equality

Many women’s organizations struggle with limited resources. Find a cause near your heart, related to women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality, and donate money or raise funds to support that cause. Check out Catapult, a crowd-funding platform for gender equality – or find an organization like Global Fund for Women to donate to and support women and girls around the world. Do you like what we’re doing at Girls’ Globe? You can also donate to support our work.

4.  Raise awareness about issues concerning women and girls in your community

First, educate yourself – and then educate others. Find out what are some of the biggest challenges for women and girls in your society: is it violence against women, lack of educational opportunities, gender pay gap, lack of sufficient sexual and reproductive health services? Learn about the gaps that exist and hinder women’s and girls’ empowerment and ability to live to their full potential – and then make some noise! Talk to other people about what you have learned, advocate via social media, write an Op-Ed for the local newspaper, contact the local radio station. Find organizations that work on these issues and get involved. Organize a town hall meeting to talk about what can be done to fix the problems – and encourage others to join you Change starts from awareness – and we can all play a part in spreading that awareness around!

5. Believe that a Gender Equal world is possible – and settle for nothing less.

The road may seem long – but don’t lose faith. I believe that we can reach a gender equal world, hopefully within my own lifetime – and I want to be a part of making that world a reality. I believe it will not only be beneficial for women and girls, but for men and boys too, like my son – and I want to see him grow up in a world where all people, regardless of their gender (and there are more than two!) or any other trait, are treated equally and fairly. Keep believing that this is a realistic goal, a reachable goal – and don’t settle for anything less than full equality. Some may claim it’s utopia or unrealistic, but I beg to differ. What I think is unrealistic is to expect that we, as a global community, can have any sort of sustainable development or progress when half of our population continue to be discriminated against because of their gender. It’s time to put a stop to that. I believe we can do that, and I’m up for the task! It’s almost 2016 – will you join me?

Featured image courtesy of UNICEF Ethiopia.