How can we achieve gender equality

"The power of now": What each of us can do to fight for gender equality

"No country will achieve gender equality by 2030," was the somber headline that filled my Twitter feed one morning last summer like an anti-feminist demon sent to suck hope from our souls and us to hold on in a waiting state of despair and inaction.

The first SDG Gender Index, developed by the "Equal Measures 2030" partners, did not bring good news about progress in developing or so-called developed countries. All Countries appear to be struggling to tackle the under-representation of women in parliament, the gender pay gap and gender-based violence.

Alison Holder, director of Equal Measures 2030, told the Guardian, "I don't see any countries taking the ambitious measures necessary to address the persistent problems - even the top performing countries - and I don't see how these problems can go away on their own. Even among the top performing countries there are still massive problems. "

And Holder is right. These problems won't just go away. In fact, they're only going to get worse. Serious attempts are currently being made in the United States to deprive women of their rights over their own bodies. In many countries around the world, abortion remains a prisonable crime. If women don't even have the right to decide what's going on in their own flesh and blood, how the hell can we expect to be seen as serious power-holders and world-shapers?

Protesters against the "Heartbeat Bill" in Atlanta, May 2019

© Steve Eberhardt / ZUMA Wire / Shutterstock

Yet this headline is not a daunting fact that we cannot do anything about. It is a harbinger for all of us who want more and are not happy with this statement: progress has stopped like a broken elevator stuck between floors. We're sounding the alarm. We pry open the door. If necessary, we crawl through the vents. We save ourselves.

Those who hold more than a necessary share of power will not simply hand it out like snacks at a party. Not by itself. The existing power structures count on us to feel powerless. But there are many of us and we organize - and yet it can't just be a vague "We too". It actually has to be me and actually you. If you read VOGUE, I am assuming that in some ways you are an influential person, even if you don't realize it. On what so do you have influence? And how can you gain influence?

Do you know people in positions of power in politics or any other industry? Does your workplace have a corporate social responsibility program that offers events and mentoring in local communities? Perhaps this could help those so far from equal opportunities that they would not even notice if their overcrowded classroom offered them to help with university applications.

Does your company have funding in an account just waiting to be invested in an ethical, small, female business initiative in a developing country? If not, ask why such a thing doesn't exist and whether you can introduce it. Don't have the time or skills to do this on your own? Trust me, you are surrounded by frustrated people desperately looking for someone to take the lead.

Do you have a gender balance initiative at work? A network for LGBTQ + people and their allies? If so, go there. Find out what is needed and who to talk to, setting goals or achieving those that are already in place. The answer to that could be: With the CEO. But if you're too scared to talk to him (and yes, it's definitely a he), who will? You have to do it. And I have to do it. Don't join in just for the drinks or to share the tweets.

"Old white men": Republicans applaud President Trump at his "State of the Union" speech in February 2019

© Tom Williams

If you are freelance or care full-time, visit the organization in your neighborhood - there is often so little female power, encouragement and commitment that those present will likely burst into tears when you offer to there to help.

No time? Donate and try to instigate others! No money? Learn to tweet outside of your own bubble. Write directly to your politicians and lawmakers. Write a humorous letter that will grab their attention. Find out when their public events are and go. Connect people who really have the time and money: become a coupling genius.

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If you're feeling alone or a little lost, check out my The Guilty Feminist Podcast and Feminists Don't Wear Pink podcast with Scarlett Curtis - and go to the live events if you can. Read Gina Martin's "Be The Change" and "Slay In Your Lane" by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené. And these are just my suggestions. Please find, follow and start your own. Follow, support or join global movements fighting for equality around the world. To name just a few: #HeForShe, the South African Sonke Gender Justice, Fondo Semillas in Mexico, the Pakistani Malala Fund or the Adefra initiative, which shows black women in Germany what courage means. Join local groups in the real world and online groups such as the Gunda Werner Institute, Pinkstinks, or Terre des Femmes. A movement is taking place. I have never felt such an energy for change and community in my life.

We will not achieve gender parity on our own by 2030. We will achieve it in a supernatural way, with the power of resistance and resilience, desire and joy, intention and devotion, stubbornness and anger, charm and commitment. With your own strength. With my own strength. With our strength. And the power of now.

Deborah Frances-White is a stand-up comedian, screenwriter, and activist best known for her The Guilty Feminist podcast, which has over 65 million downloads. Together with her guests, she explores her honorable goals as feminists of the 21st century and the insecurities and hypocrisies that prevent them from doing so.

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