Laura Bates: So You're A Feminist... But Now What?
International Women's Day is a day about women (the name kinda gives it away), but isn’t just for women. It’s for everyone - so we can unite in being part of the solution of solving gender inequality. It’s a huge issue – and hugely important – and a topic that loads of people know a massive amount about, while lots others are just starting to understand.
So, to help us all get more informed, and able to kick-inequality-ass, we asked a selection of awesome women doing awesome things to share their thoughts on IWD and tell us what it means to them. Laura Bates is a British writer and founder of the incredible Everyday Sexism campaign, and here's her advice for what YOU can do to make a difference.On International Women’s Day, we hear a lot about the issue of gender inequality around the world. But what can you do to be part of the solution? The answer is that everybody can do something, and small actions really do add up. Try these five ideas to get you started….
It’s easy to point at other people and think of prejudice as a problem that happens elsewhere. But because we are all so surrounded by stereotypes and sexism, from the adverts we flick past in magazines to the images we see on billboards, it’s safe to say most of us have internalised it, even just a little bit. So challenge yourself to notice the way you talk and pick up on your own subconscious bias.
When you ask about someone’s boss, or discuss a visit to the doctor, do you automatically say ‘he’? When you talk to younger relatives, do you tell little girls how pretty they are and little boys how strong? Do you tend to assume the women in your life will do the washing up or the hoovering? These are all small things, but starting to pick up on them and consciously trying to change them is one small way to shift ingrained gender stereotypes.
Stand Up and Speak Out
One of the biggest reasons gender inequality persists is because it’s normalised – people don’t react when they see it. Whether it’s a girl being groped on a bus, or a woman being shouted at in the street, victims often report that passers-by looked the other way and didn’t say anything or object. If it feels safe to do so, try speaking out when you hear a sexist joke, or stepping in when you see someone being made to feel uncomfortable. You won’t just send a clear message to the perpetrator that their behaviour is unacceptable, you also let the victim know they’re not alone.
Around the world, sexual violence support charities and women’s organisations are woefully under-funded and unsupported. Many are on the verge of closing down because they don’t have the resources they need to stay open. You could make a huge difference by finding out where your local refuge or women’s organisation is and asking if you can help by volunteering. And you don’t need to be loaded to make a donation – why not take on a sponsored activity to raise funds?
Walk the Walk
When we hear about relationship abuse, it’s easy to think of it as something dramatic and unreal, that happens on TV or to ‘other’ people. But young people are actually more likely to experience violence from an intimate partner than any other age group. It’s important to learn about your rights and responsibilities, to practice respect and consent in your own relationships, and to support friends who might be experiencing it by letting them know help is available.
Pass It On
Learning about gender inequality is important, but passing the message on to other people is even more vital. We can’t change behaviour unless everybody gets on board, so start a conversation, share a link with a friend, or ask girls you know about their experiences – we won’t fix the problem until we start to talk about it.- Laura Bates
Women Who Are Rocking Our World Right Now
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