This section of the Monitor brings the information full circle and seeks to inspire further thinking about how individuals can make a difference with what often seem like complex and insurmountable issues.
Most experts note that the term “women’s movement” is misleading. Vice President of Programs Shalini Nataraj, of the Global Fund for Women, has said that the energy and activism associated with improving the global status of women is best captured in the plural: there are many “women’s movements.”
There are thus infinite access points for people who care to get involved. Activism occurs on many levels – within families, communities, organizations, countries, and regions. Just as important as high level policymaking, legislation, and budgeting are the daily conversations and interactions that further understanding and awareness of women’s issues and bring about change in values and attitudes. Here are some examples of ways to get involved:
- Educate the public about what gender equality is and why it matters. Help to dispel myths that suggest feminism is all about radical agendas, and explain that it is rather about realizing the potential of half the world’s population.
- Talk to friends, family, and colleagues. Tell them both the bad and the good news about the global status of women; include not only the statistics, but also the stories of courage and progress.
- Stand up when you witness gender discrimination, from verbal insults to denial of rights and opportunities.
- Use your political voice through voting and advocacy of policies that protect and promote the rights of women. Know what international bodies and your own local and national elected representatives are doing on these issues. Let them know what you think.
- Learn about U.S. policies that on the surface may not seem to be gender-focused, from trade to aid to defense expenditures. Understand how these, in fact, do impact women in this country and around the world.
- Pay attention to the root causes of gender inequality, not just its symptoms. Think systemically and not only in terms of humanitarianism or rescue. Work on the macro and micro level. Think empowerment, not victimhood.
- Volunteer your time working on important issues and connecting personally with individual women who are seeking to improve their lives. Be a tutor, a mentor, an advocate.
Next: Knowledge to Action: Philantrhopy for Women's Empowerment