International Women's Day is this Wednesday, and so, I want to use this week's post to acknowledge two important things:
First, I want to acknowledge that my life has been and continues to be greatly inspired and bettered by incredible women.
(Three generations of women in my family and me...dressed as Vikings...in Dublin...)
Powerful women have been a constant for me since birth. My family is composed of a legion of strong, smart, capable, badass women. Most of my best friends are amazing, trailblazing women. Many of my mentors and role models are bold female leaders. Heck, I would venture to say that the majority of my favorite people on this planet are women.
Women inspire, support, and bring joy to my life every day, and I am truly grateful for the contributions of women to not only my life, but also their immense contributions to our society, economy and culture as a whole.
So, in honor of that gratitude, I'd like to make my second acknowledgement, and issue this challenge to the men reading this:
*** The time has come for us to take personal responsibility for our participation in oppression and show up more powerfully and actively in the fight for gender equality, NOW.
Until we, as a privileged group, acknowledge our privilege and actively participate in creating systemic change, equality will not be possible. ***
I think that there is a belief amongst men in our society that gender equality is a women's issue, and that it is women's battle to wage.
I would like to state instead that gender inequality is actually a men's issue, and one that requires our immediate attention.
Though we may not have chosen to be born to privilege, we do choose, either passively or actively, to continue to reap the benefits of that privilege and support the systems of oppression that deny women access to:
Equal pay for equal work
Equal access to employment and full-time work
Equal access to power, agency and resources
Equal access to healthcare
Equal political and media representation
Equal education and opportunities in STEM jobs
Equal protection and response to violence and sexual assault
Equal power to control their bodies
Equal freedom from gender norms, stereotypes or expectations
(to name a few, click here for more)
That choosing of oppression is an issue, and it's our issue.
As this system was designed to benefit us, we are the ones best positioned to change it! We have the access, the power, and the resources to dismantle this system from the inside and to design a new and better system that provides equality for all.
And so, I would like to encourage and enlist myself and every man reading this to take this week, or at least take some time on International Women's Day, to examine how our gender privilege shows up in our lives, and accomplish one actionable step towards creating more equality (I've created a list below for you to choose from.)
Also, importantly, please support the Women's March this week and sign up to be a part of their further actions.
Happy International Women's Day everyone! May our actions this week be the first reverberation towards a more equal world!
Ways that men can contribute to gender equality:
become more informed about the state of gender equality in the world
call out companies that use gender stereotypes
call out gender-biased language with our friends and family
speak to other men, especially older men, about gender equality and enlist them in creating change
rotate responsibilities and tasks with women
empower educators to create equality in the classroom
challenge all-male speaking panels to include women
call it out when women are excluded from opportunities
monitor the gender pay gap in our companies
point out bias and highlight alternatives in conversation
call for and support diverse candidates politically
embrace inclusive leadership in our organizations
challenge those who justify perpetrators and blame victims
donate to groups fighting abuse against women
speak out against the silence of violence
be vigilant and report violence
campaign for the prevention of violence
abstain from all violence, physical and otherwise
volunteer your help at a local women's charity
decide to buy from companies that support women
choose to work for a progressive employer for women
support or back a woman-owned business
take a junior female colleague to a major meeting or event
build conducive, flexible work environments
appoint a woman to the board
mentor a woman and sponsor her goals
invite women into situations where they're not already present or contributing
create new opportunities for women
raise women's visibility as spokespeople in the media
drive fairer recognition and credit for women's contributions
launch even more awards showcasing women's success
hail the success of women leaders
applaud social, economic, cultural and political women role models
celebrate women's journeys and the barriers they overcome
reinforce and support women's triumphs
launch or fund a women-focused scholarship
encourage more girls into STEM education and careers
value diversity for greater educational outcomes
support women inventors of new products and services
celebrate women researchers discovering new knowledge
encourage girls to learn to code