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An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos, From SWAAY

Lifestyle

Very recently, Jeff Bezos asked people to reply to his tweet with their ideas. Just a few hours later there were more than 3,600 such replies. A few days after that, tens of thousands of replies streamed in as numerous as they are varied. From Girl Scouts of America to funding a solution to the Flint, Michigan water crisis to international causes, the requests proliferated like mushrooms in northern Michigan springtime.


Bezos and his family have donated $35 million to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and $15 million to Princeton University, his alma mater. Crowdsourcing philanthropic ideas, especially presented in a single post, might lead to flooding. But at least it's a start. So, without further ado, a friendly letter to our friend Jeff is in order:

I'll respect your valuable time and keep this short and sweet: it's time for you to join us on the Feminist Jet as we fly off to visit four worthwhile causes that could greatly benefit from your fiscal intervention.

1. The first stop is Women on Wings. Founded by Maria van de Heijden and Ellen Tacoma in 2007, this organization connects women with entrepreneurs, who employ them and market their crafts, giving poor women living in India an independent income.

As you already know, as an admirer of India, it's a rapidly expanding economy with a population of 700 million people, who mostly still live on just $2 dollars per day. A quick visit to their website will reveal that they have created 221,000 sustainable jobs for women as well as saved 660,000 children from malnutrition, while additionally enrolling them in school.

2. The second stop, Girls on The Run, is dedicated to empowering girls to become healthy and confident young women. The organization achieves this by using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. They envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. GOTR was founded by Molly Barker and thirteen girls in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1996.

The following year Barker met Dori Luke and together they expanded programming in Charlotte and other communities. What began as one school is now more than 200 strong in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2015 GOTR served its millionth girl and hosted more than 350 end-of-season 5K events across the United States.

3. Our third stop, Girls Not Brides, is a global partnership of more than 700 civil society organizations from over 90 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential. Each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18 – the equivalent of 28 girls every minute, or one girl every two seconds.

The first global study on the economic cost of child marriage shows that this human violation also has a major negative impact on national economies.

The Economic Impacts of Child Marriage research, conducted jointly by The World Bank and The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), shows that the biggest economic impacts of child marriage are related to fertility and population growth, education, earnings and the health of children born to young mothers.

The study highlights that investments in ending child marriage can help countries achieve multiple development goals. It explores the impacts of child marriage in five areas: fertility and population growth, educational attainment and learning, labor force participation, decision-making and investments, and health, nutrition and violence. The research found that child marriage could save the global economy trillions of dollars between now and 2030.

4. Our final stop takes you to the doors of SWAAY Media, a ground-breaking digital publication in Manhattan that harnesses the glamour of today's business-minded woman, and was founded by Ms. New York U.S. 2015, Iman Oubou. Offering an editorial platform for business-minded women, SWAAY serves as an innovative example of what female-focused media should embody: intellect, influence and a powerful visual of femininity.

Iman has also worked as a cancer research scientist and is a board member of 'Mission to Heal,' an NGO based in Washington, D.C. Like yourself, Iman boasts an engineering background and chose to pursue other passions.

Whatever you decide to do with your charitable donations, we appreciate you taking the time to invest in a good cause. The world needs more generous people like you.

Warm Regards,

Your friends at SWAAY Media

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

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.