On March 8, team genneve was on hand for “Be Bold: Stand Up for Change,” an event to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The Seattle event was spectacular – starting with the great food by That Brown Girl Cooks, on to the “Bold Women” history lesson from Dr. Devon Atchison, to the insightful panel discussion, through the breathtaking, heartbreaking snippet from the documentary film Girl Rising, and closing with the gorgeous music and lyrics of Star Anna. Hundreds of women attended, and there were many tears, laughs, and pledges to carry the momentum forward.
But that’s the question: how do we keep our enthusiasm from folding up along with the chairs and tables at Town Hall? It’s great to attend events like these, but it’s even greater if we can take that energy forward to make real and lasting change for women, their families, and communities all over the world.
Fortunately, the organizers of the Seattle event, Kate Isler and Nickie Smith, were already way ahead of me.
“How do I re-create the spirit and passion of
International Women’s Day, every day?”
Based on recommendations from the United Nations, here are Kate and Nickie’s suggestions for keeping the momentum of International Women’s Day going:
- Forge opportunities for women. There are lots of women-owned, women-led companies out there. Find some. They’re in your neighborhood. Ask your friends; start small but start looking for them, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find. (Shannon: I wasn’t able to locate an app or website that tells you which businesses in your area are woman-owned or woman-led, but there may be one. If you know, please share in the comments!)
- Challenge bias and inequality. Gender inequality is often so “normal” that it’s nearly invisible until someone points it out. Be that someone. If you see an all-male panel, challenge it; offer to occupy a seat, if appropriate, or help the organizers locate some female experts. Monitor the pay gap, and if you’re responsible for the pay of others, don’t help propagate it. Challenge stereotypes – and by this, we mean all stereotypes, including the “inept father” as well as the “ditzy blonde female.” Support inclusive leadership. Call it out when you see it and reward those who are truly making an effort. Raising awareness – in your community, among family, with friends, every opportunity you get – is key.
- Campaign against violence. Educate young people on how to have positive, supportive, equal relationships. There’s a lot of female-victim blaming and male-perpetrator excusing behavior out there: don’t engage in it or let it go unchallenged. Report violence if you witness it. Support community groups that help counteract abuse.
- Champion women’s education. Donate to an organization that educates girls globally, and be a voice for your local schools. Help launch or fund a scholarship that provides educational funds to women or girls. Celebrate women’s accomplishments by talking about them on social media and with friends.
Finally, be an advocate for women in your daily life. Mentor a younger woman or seek out a mentor to help you grow. Connect women who can help one another. Gather women and the men who support them to set goals and find or carve out opportunities for women in your local community.
And take time to celebrate a very important woman in your life who tends to go unappreciated: you.