It’s 2017, so get up and do something to empower women!

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It is the start of a new year. I am reenergized, filled with hope, and excited for the uncertainty of the year ahead. I have several new goals for 2017 in a year that is sure to be full of change.

I will move to a new place and start a new job this year, though I do not know the details on those changes yet. I will begin a new chapter of my life filled with excitement and complexity. Through all this change, one goal goes unchanged year to year: my desire to improve the status of women around the world.

Though many changes improved for women in various countries around the globe last year, some changes had the opposite effect. My goal for 2017 must have a larger impact to counteract some of these more negative changes of 2016.

My goal is to improve the status of women worldwide in any way that I can, but also to inspire my family, friends, and colleagues to do the same. This year, we all need to get up and do something to empower women!

Imagine what a different world this would be for women if everyone worked towards equality. One thing is for sure, it would be achieved a lot quicker. The fact that women are still not equal to men in 2017 baffles me, but it also tells me we need to do more.

For all the amazing progress we have made and the fights that have been won, women are economically, politically, and socially completely unequal in most of the world.

  • Ninety percent of 143 economies around the world, developed and developing, have at least one legal difference restricting women’s economic opportunity.[1]
  • Globally, women earn 60-75% of men’s wages, on average.[2]
  • Only 30% of all researchers in the world are women and nearly two-thirds, of the estimated 781 million illiterate people over the age of 15, are women.[3]
  • Only one in every five members of a lower, or single, house of parliament around the world is female.[4]
  • As little as 18% of women, worldwide, are appointed to ministerial positions typically related to social issues.[5]

So I ask, as I have countless times before, if we know that restricting women’s economic participation limits a country’s growth and wealth and the benefits of including and educating women are immense, why is it still happening?

This is where each of us come in. If more people stand up to this injustice, perhaps we won’t have to ask this question any longer. We can ALL do something and should. This is what is right, and this is the year to get up and do something about it!

Small things matter. This is often forgotten when waging a larger war on oppression. What can we do?

    1. Lift women up.

 

I have two male colleagues, Josh and Randall, who make a point to give credit to women in classes. They cite the name and good comment from women in their classes while they comment to demonstrate that they value their contribution. By making sure women are heard and credited, they continue to lift their female colleagues up and inspire other men and women to do the same. This matters.

    2. Stay informed and have a conversation.

 

Stay abreast of what is happening to women all around the world. It is also important to talk about what we know to get others thinking and inspired to take action. Start a conversation, especially with those that are not informed!

    3. Use a gendered lens.

 

Thanks to a professor of mine, Dr. Valerie Hudson, I now see the world through a gendered lens. This means that I now approach situations and challenges through this lens every day. The way I see the world has forever changed, and I try to help those around me also see through this lens. I have had several colleagues thank me for allowing them to see a situation through this lens after I shared my thoughts and opinions. Don’t be afraid to share the way you see a situation with others.

    4. Forget labels and fight for what you believe in.

 

A friend of mine told me she believed in women’s rights, but didn’t like being labeled a feminist; She believed it carried a negative connotation. She felt she couldn’t talk about women’s issues without being called a feminist and facing criticism.

I challenged her, as I do anyone with the same fear, to stand up for what you believe in. Disregard labels. What matters is what is important to you. If someone doesn’t respect your beliefs, give them the facts. The fact is female equality is makes sense economically, politically, and socially.

    5. Find your passion.

 

Education is my friend Sam’s passion. Thanks to Dr. Hudson, Sam also sees the world through a gendered lens. She uses this lens to approach her passion. What are you passionate about? How can you use this passion to empower women?

    6. Volunteer or get involved.

 

Find a local organization that allows you to empower women and be rewarded with the richness of service. Instead of a week’s vacation, spend a week abroad volunteering with women. You will feel better for it and your life will be forever changed.

    7. Be a role model or mentor.

 

Every day women are judged by others. Stand up for yourself, as a woman, or for other women and perhaps others will do the same. Take other women under your wing and offer assistance as well as guidance instead of competing. You will pass along knowledge and learn at the same time.

    8. Do something.

 

Find a group and read books together about women. Call your congressman or senator in regard to legislation you think important for women. Start a blog about women you know and are inspired by. Do anything big or small that can help one woman, a group of women, or women around the world.

We can all do small things in our everyday lives to improve the status of women around the world. Men and women united for equality can cause change. My friends, family, colleagues, and professors inspire and challenge me every day to make a difference; that’s what I want to do every day of this year. I challenge you to do the same. Stop simply thinking. Get up and do something to empower women!

—by ANN

References

  1. The World Bank. (2014). Women, Business and Law 2014: Removing Restrictions to Enhance Gender Equality. Retrieved from http://wbl.worldbank.org/~/media/FPDKM/WBL/Documents/Reports/2014/Women-Business-and-the-Law-2014-Key-Findings.pdf
  2. The World Bank. (2017). Gender Data Portal. Retrieved from http://datatopics.worldbank.org/gender/key%20gender%20employment%20indicators
  3. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2015). The World’s Women 2015. Retrieved from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/gender/downloads/WorldsWomen2015_report.pdf
  4. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2015). The World’s Women 2015. Retrieved from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/gender/downloads/WorldsWomen2015_report.pdf
  5. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2015). The World’s Women 2015. Retrieved from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/gender/downloads/WorldsWomen2015_report.pdf

 

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2 thoughts on “It’s 2017, so get up and do something to empower women!

  1. Zuri says:

    Greetings!

    I am so happy to search and find this post! I love this message in your blog. My name is Zuri, 28, female (she/her pronouns), and I am the designer of theF0LD. I have a business start-up with a similar message as the above post! I am trying to take gender out of clothing. I have developed unique sizing charts and clothing that I call gender-free and hand sew. I also have a few lines of screen printed items and embroidered hats about gender. I just created a political response to the current political climate called, “The Future is Non-Binary,” that is really taking off (https://thef0ld.com/collections/thewe-line/political).

    I would love it if you checked it out!

    Zuri
    theF0LD.com

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