We are celebrating International Women’s Day 2017.
Showing respect, appreciation and love of women is one thing.
Wearing ribbons is another thing.
Recognising, analysing, and highlighting the struggles of women around the world, far from the coziness of our salons and our (social media) networks is something else.
Actively listening to the perspectives of women with a different heritage, who live in other social contexts, with a different upbringing, have different sexual expressions, different psychological profiles, family orientations, other political views, different mental or physical health, is a different matter.
Building hope and constructive actions to eradicate the struggles of all women in the above categories and others, is essential.
All this, whilst understanding that you shouldn’t force anyone to align themselves to your own vision of what is acceptable or not. Because your vision of the world is only one perspective.
In December 1977, The United Nations proclaimed a Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace, a political and human rights theme that aims to bring out a strong political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide. It is built on a premise of hope and effective action.
So let’s pay tribute to the mothers of social justice, the human rights campaigners, the social activists, social entrepreneurs and politicians. And equally importantly, let’s celebrate the younger ones, and let’s embrace the ongoing battle too:
Thank you Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, the souls behind the #BlackLivesMatter campaign for speaking out and organising a global movement against violence and systemic racism toward black people.
Thank you Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola (WeCyclers), Achenyo Idachaba (Mitimeth), Thato Kgatlhanye (Repurpose School Bags) and Winnifred Selby (Afrocentric Bamboo), for your environmental social entrepreneurship and green leadership across various countries in Africa.
Thank you - Spectra Speaks, Soraya Bhagat (Tahrir Bodyguard), Shruti Kapoor (Sayfty) and Ashila Mapalagama (Stand Up Lanka) for founding social enterprises that provide opportunities and support to others so they are better equipped to uphold their rights.
but women still pick up the price tag for just wanting to be respected as humans.
So thank you Li Maizi, Wei Tingting, Zheng Churan, Wang Man, and Wu Rongrong, the Feminist Five, for risking their lives protecting women’s rights in China and beyond.
A heartfelt thank you to all the women who have come forward and shared their stories of harassment, rape, cyberbullying, trolling, on EverydaySexism, Take Back the Tech, Hollaback, Callisto, through the #PrimeiroAssedio or #FirstHarassment campaigns, and many other platforms and off-line forums.
You have create tools and spread resources to prevent violence. Your brave coming out is an everyday revolution that sparks courage and confidence in others. You have helped yourselves and others to also report and get support from friends and institutions. You have even hacked into the phenomenon and grown your response and means of expression. (Thank you Chayn!)
Thank you to the fair-trade entrepreneurs who prefer to have thousands of owners (such as Sophi Tranchell at Divine Chocolate) rather than an unaccountable group of shareholders, and trade whilst growing communities, protecting workers’ rights and educating generations in the process.
Thank you to Fatima Ali, the President of Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana. At 35, Fatima is now the head of the biggest cocoa farmer’s co-operative in the world.
Thank you to Ajaita Shah from Frontier Markets, providing relevant energy to low-income families in India, but doing so by empowering women to be the experts, the makers, the fixers - which they often already are!- of their own communities.
says investor, entrepreneur and gender rights campaigner, Halla Tomasdottir. Halla frequently talks about that Women’s Day in Iceland when women went on strike, which paved the way for the first female president in the world, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir - and later gave Iceland a brilliant prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the world’s first openly gay head of government, who fought hard battles against her male peers during her time as member of parliament and as a minister. Johanna showed passion for social justice and her government also decided that Iceland’s citizens should be involved in creating a new constitution. Meaning in a participative democratic way, not a populist way… Yes, Johanna was a white grandmother when she came out, and it is factually easier to do so in Iceland, than in Saudi Arabia for instance. But western women shouldn’t take things for granted.
Halla herself ran in the 2016 presidential elections and achieved second place after an unusual campaign, full of media biases.
We need to know more about these voices to emulate them, support them, get the courage to step up, even if these are small incremental steps.
We won’t find peace by using the same old hierarchical top down strategies. Our change will come from nature: like a virus, small acts of social justice and entrepreneurship will do good and spread. Millions of us, holding hands and putting the finger where it hurts, putting pressure on policy, changing it. Creating space for small behaviour changes, every day.
It’s about one conversation at a time, but millions of these conversations going on at any one time.
Minn tími mun koma!
“My time will come!” Iceland prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir once said.
#ImpactWomen is an initiative that aims to encourage peer-to-peer support around the world, and promote a network of amazing women social entrepreneurs.
We have built a map to enable you, as a woman in social enterprise, to make yourself heard and be found.
We have some brilliant ambassadors for our movement including: Louise van Rhyn (Partners for Possibility, South Africa); Sian Conway (#ethicalhour, UK); Claire Kinyanjui (Secure Magazine, Kenya); Okocha Nkem (Mamamoni, Nigeria); and Leila Ben Gacem (Blue Fish, Tunisia). And our crazy aim is to connect #1MillionImpactWomen by 2020.
It’s time to join forces, reverse the tide, and make this ecosystem more vocal! It’s time to be bold for change.
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