I know many often wonder what they can do to raise awareness and be actors in bringing change. For the past few days we have seen an unusual assault on reproductive rights and women’s bodies. March 8th, International Women’s Day, would be a great opportunity to raise awareness of the fact that we are a long way from true equality and we can do something about it, especially with some planning and forethought. So, what can we do about it? A number of things, but here are some suggestions.
First, find an issue you are passionate about. “Women’s Rights” are an umbrella comprised of many different issues that affect every woman differently. Some of these issues include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Reproductive Health (abortion, access to contraceptives, access to medical practices, etc.)
- Equal Opportunities in the workplace (pay gap, glass ceiling, etc.)
- Transphobia, transmisogyny and the right to gender without enduring outdated medicalization practices
- Media representations (sexism in media, misogyny in media representations and marketing, objectification of women’s bodies to sell products, etc.)
- Body Policing practices (diet cultures, fatphobia, appearance policing, etc.)
- Ableism and the rights of women with disabilities
- Rape Culture: law enforcement and media treatment of the issue
- Racial erasure of women that belong to minority groups (i.e. Muslim women and the way media portrays them; women of color unfairly targeted as stereotypes of “welfare queens”, etc)
- Marriage equality and the rights of Lesbian, bisexual and queer women
As I said above, these are some of the issues, and not at all a definite list of the topics people should care about. However, in the interest of brevity, let’s say we look at this list. We have two weeks to pick at least one issue and make noise about it. Bring it to the forefront for Women’s Day. Create awareness and help shed light on how these issues affect us.
Since most people are interested in bringing change but do not know how to begin, or do not have nearly enough time to devote to the subject, here are some ideas of how you can be part of an activist approach to Social Justice without having to set aside your entire life for the cause.
- Pick one subject and stick to it (because again, you probably have limited time and only so many resources, so better focus on the one issue you are passionate about)
- Find your local newspapers and news outlets and write letters on the subject. Include the fact that you are writing because March 8th is International Women’s Day and you want to highlight this particular inequality
- Urge your friends to write similar letters in their local media
- Share your letter and the name of the news outlet you sent it to with your Facebook and Twitter friends
- If you have seen a commercial depicting unsavory objectifications of women, write to the company behind the ad and, again, inform them that, in view of the fact that March 8th is International Women’s Day, you believe this depiction to be harmful for women and how you will actively boycott the brand and urge your friends and family to follow suit
- If you are in high school or college, approach a student organization and suggest you collectively pick one issue and devote the week of March 8th to create awareness and promote debate on it
- Write a letter to your elected representative urging them to give support to the issues you care about. This also works on local, Municipal level, especially in regards to supporting Community Centers and city wide policies
- Find a local grassroots organization that supports policies and ideas you care about and volunteer to help organize an event for International Women’s Day. Now, volunteering is a luxury (not everyone has free time to devote to it), so be realistic in how many hours you can devote to helping out. Also, the best approach is to ask if they are already organizing something and add your efforts to what might be already underway. When offering your volunteering efforts, keep in mind they might not know what you bring to them. Be prepared to be humble and listen; ask questions rather than make statements (better “Have you considered doing X?” than “We should do X”).
To sum up, how you can help bring awareness of inequality on International Women’s Day:
- keep in mind how much time you can realistically devote to your passionate support of this cause.
- Stick to actions that are achievable and you can do in your daily circumstances (i.e. you might want to dress the local monument pink, but in reality, you do not have the resources or support group to do this)
- Identify one issue you want to bring awareness to (there are many, but, again, you need to be realistic in how much you can do in a period of time)
- Find like minded individuals (there is strength in numbers and local community, try to find it whenever possible)
And finally, do not be afraid to speak up. Our very own rights and living conditions are under siege. If not us, then who will speak on our behalf?
RedLightPolitics, sage, kind, and readalicious as she is, generously allows us to share our favorite pieces from her blog. You can read this post in its original context here.