March is Women's History Month, a time to reflect on the achievements of women and to seek new ways to empower them.
In the past year and a half, the Women's March and the #MeToo movement have begun to reshape national conversations about gender equality. But sometimes in our haste to advocate for women's rights, we forget that womanhood can come in many forms.
This month grants the perfect opportunity for anyone to start to acknowledge the diversity of women and champion for the equality of all: including women of color, trans women and women from around the world. Here are 15 woke ways to support, educate and celebrate all women for Women's History Month.
1. Make your smartphone even smarter by downloading this female-forward app.
Change starts with small steps, so why not begin with your phone? Download Women & Girls, an app that uses data from 201 countries to track gender equality around the world. Or keep tabs on sexual harassment by using Hollaback! an app that allows you to record and share stories about sexual harassment in your neighborhood.
Photo Courtesy of ThoughtCo
2. Become pen pals with a woman from across the globe.
Learn about women's experiences in other countries by finding an international pen pal. You can use the Women & Girls app to select a country that lacks women's equality. Then, use Postcrossing, a free website that connects you with people from 213 countries, to find your female pen pal.
3. Divest from companies that don't support equal rights and support ones that do.
Sadly, some of the brands we love support discrimination and inequality. Thankfully, there are tons of great women-owned brands you can put your dollar to that are supportive and inclusive. Check out Adorned by Chi, a clothing and accessory line full of cheeky tees and accessories that promote black girl magic and kawaii looks. Or SheNative, a handbag line started by Devon Fiddler, a First Nations woman looking to destigmatize the perception of indigenous women.
4. Dive into feminist theory.
Women make up 49.5 percent of the global population, and that's just those who are biologically born female. Expand your mind and learn about the many definitions of womanhood. Discover Kimberle Crenshaw, a civil rights activist and pioneer of intersectional feminism. Or read a book by Bell Hooks, a gender studies scholar who deconstructs what it truly means to be a woman of color under the white, male patriarchy.
5. Host a Women's History Month party.
What better way to celebrate Women's History Month than to recognize the women in your life? Ask guests to bring menstrual products, diapers, and makeup as a point of entry. At the end of the party, you can collect the products and donate to your local women's shelter. Here are some ideas on what you can ask your guests to bring.
During the party, your guests and you can color these awesome print-outs of badass women. Or opt for a movie marathon featuring powerful female characters. Uninspired? Check out this extensive list of movies with powerful female leads.
6. Treat yourself with this holistic, Latina-owned beauty line.
Brujita Skincare is a line based in Los Angeles that uses fairly-sourced, mineral-rich clays and powders from Mexico. The founder, Leah Guerrero, travels regularly in Mexico to find holistic ingredients sourced from local market vendors. The line specializes in masks, oils and creams.
7. Sign up for that boxing class you've been putting off.
U.N. Women estimates that 35 percent of women have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Sign up for a boxing class at your local gym or better yet, a crash course women's self-defense.
8. Donate a picture book about a strong woman or girl.
Give the gift of women's empowerment to a girl in need. Check out this list of 45 must-have books for girls. If you don't have a Little Free Library where you live, try Project Night Night, a program that assembles “night packages" to homeless children 12 and under, or United Through Reading, a program that helps children of active military personnel bond with their deployed parents through reading.
9. Flood your feed with feminist Instagrams.
Who doesn't love a good RBG meme? For starters, check out @femalecollective, an Instagram run by Candace Reels, an intersectional feminist from Los Angeles who went from running the account to a full-fledged blog and online clothing store. Or @ladiesgetpaid, a women's network focused on sharing resources and job opportunities across the web.
10. Indulge in a TED Talk on feminism.
Choose from 10 talks that discuss different aspects of women empowerment. Examples include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's speech that inspired her book, “We Should All Be Feminists," and Malala Yousafzai's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai's speech on his daughter. These talks will open your mind and inspire the ways in which you think about female empowerment.
11. Call your local representatives to support and further promote equality for all.
Keep up with issues that affect your community. Whether it's speaking out about women's reproductive rights, or protections for trans women, call up your local representative and make your voice heard. Check out USA.gov to get in touch with your local, state and federal officials.
12. Register to vote.
It's important to remember the power we have when we cast a ballot. To learn more about how to register, click here.
13. Learn about the women you weren't taught about in history class.
For many, just like Black History Month, the scope of Women's History Month is narrow or non-existent in school. Use this time to learn about the hundreds of women around the world who have paved the way for future generations. Whether its women from the past like Queen Hatshepsut, the first queen of Egypt, or Miss Major, a pioneer trans civil rights activist who was active in the Stonewall Riots, try to learn about a woman each day for the month of March.
14. Find out about your own women's history.
It's important to remember the women in our own personal histories, too. Looking at old photo albums with family members can bring to light the past women in your family's narrative. But if you want to dive deeper, go online. Check out FamilySearch.org, a free ancestry site that has millions of records from around the world. The site also has tutorials and tips on how to look through archives.
15. Continue to celebrate women beyond history month.
Empowering women and fighting for gender equality should go beyond 31 days. Continue to advocate for the rights of all women by practicing these methods above, or better yet come up with some methods of your own.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.