Six Observations About Activism from Female Leaders at the Creators Summit
Decisions that govern choices we make, wages we earn, the quality of air we breathe and the safety of foods we eat, are made by a homogenous few. Let’s take that in for a moment. A tiny group, relative to the population, absent your world view, culture and life experiences are running the show.
Where does that leave us? Somewhere in the audience…perhaps. Certainly not backstage or privy to what’s behind the scenes. We’re definitely not running things, less than a quarter of elected officials are women, but we can.
When politics are the most detestable, is when your involvement is the most important. We all thought that progress was well…progressive. Upward and forward moving. Guess what? It’s not. What people fought for 100 years ago we need to fight and fight again for.
One month ago, I listened to powerful stories of courage at the BlogHer Creator’s Summit with lessons about activism we can all benefit from. Dr. Alaa Murabit, a UN commissioner active in high risk peace negotiations said, “If women are involved, peace is 35 times more likely to last. Peace building and nation building are less successful If we don’t have women at the table.” Do you need more permission to get involved?
Support positive, systemic change for everything that matters to you! Leaders are calling upon women to work together — like the passionate team of master planners, doers and bridge builders we are.
Be inclusive, foster the belonging we all crave
“When people sit along the edges and we exclude them, we miss their magic. I know what the joy of being included feels like.” Shelly McNamara, Writer & VP of HR at Procter & Gamble
“…I was careful about how I expressed myself. I never wanted to be labeled ‘the angry black girl.’ I didn’t want to be written off.” Angie Thomas, #1 NY Times Best Selling Author
“It is important that the images put out in the world reflect all people. I think there is a responsibility that every single group should be represented.” Uzo Aduba, Actress & Advocate
“…I believe in less distance and more connection, less judgement and more love. We each have something to do. …We’re taught to see people as better than or less than, why not different than?” Shelly McNamara, Writer & VP of HR at Procter & Gamble
“Empathy is more powerful than sympathy.” Angie Thomas, #1 NY Times Best Selling Author
Embrace ruthless intersectionality to free us all!
“If we are fighting for one single person’s issue, but not fighting for all issues holistically, any advances that you have are limited and short term. My fight is your fight, is the point of intersectionality.” Uzo Aduba, Actress & Advocate
“Let’s hold other people accountable. If you hear injustice, call them out as soon as it comes out of their mouths…whether it’s on Christmas or Thanksgiving! Are we part of the solution or maintaining the status quo?” Gabrielle Union, Actress, Entrepreneur & Author
When asked about her book, The Hate U Give, “…When the news portrays these young men as criminals, they’re trying to take away their humanity. As a black person in America I shouldn’t have to beg for my humanity.” Angie Thomas, #1 NY Times Best Selling Author
“Some people feel blessed to be in the room…. grateful. Men don’t because they feel they belong there. Gratitude is creating a room we can all fit in.” Gabrielle Union, Actress, Entrepreneur & Author
Reframe women’s issues as family issues (childcare, paid leave, healthcare coverage & reproductive rights affect everyone)
“The United States has some of the most draconian family leave policies of developed nations. That applies to parental leave and pay equity. If we care about this particular issue, that means we need to make it known in November at the ballot box.” Rachel Tuchman, Attorney and Activist
“Paid family leave…is about helping families be safe and healthy, this is not just about women.” Christy Turlington Burns, Founder & CEO of Every Mother Counts
“…If a woman doesn’t have sick days or paid vacation days and… quits her job…she rarely ramps back on with the same wages. We call it the ‘sticky floor’… women being kept in low wage jobs. In most states, people are in favor of paid leave.” Kirsten Gillibrand, US Senator & NY Times Best Selling Author
“I have done research with women all over the world for Vagisil and the way women’s health and wellness is treated is emblematic of how women are viewed in that society.” Keech Combe Shetty, CEO Combe Inc.
“The US is one of the only countries that opposed the World Health Organization’s recommendation on breastfeeding. When it comes to our values, our children, we can’t tolerate it and have to speak out.” Christy Turlington Burns, Founder & CEO of Every Mother Counts
Align your organization’s values with human values
“We give 16 paid weeks (maternity leave) for women and 8 paid weeks (paternity leave) for men. We also just work with our folks…maybe it doesn’t start (back) full-time. Maybe it’s just 3 days a week until they get their childcare together and feel comfortable.” Jessica Alba, Founder of The Honest Company
“This (body) is a vehicle for your brain to get around. People who feel you don’t follow an ideal shape or look is bullshit! We’re 50% international and 50% women. We want a great workforce and also visual representation of diversity.” Keech Combe Shetty, CEO Combe Inc.
“We have a beautiful nursing space with medical grade pumps… I had to pump in so many disgusting places, it’s something that should be celebrated and not shameful.” Jessica Alba, Founder of The Honest Company
This is bigger than ideology. People are fighting for their lives!
“40 to 50% of LGBT employees in Corporate America are still closeted…and my experience tells me that is true at my company as well. LGBT youth are five times more likely to be suicidal.” Shelly McNamara, Writer & VP of HR at Procter & Gamble
“No one knows the daily life of people taking refuge. Women are exhausted from people taking their children and bombs in the street. Their bravery can transform the world.” Clemantine Wamariya, NY Times Best Selling Author & Advocate
“In New York City, if you’re a black woman, you are ten times more likely to die in childbirth than a white woman.” Kirsten Gillibrand, US Senator & NY Times Best Selling Author
Use your voice…today!
“There’s an exponential rise in women wanting to be heard… Putting themselves out there in an extraordinary way. If you’re not running (for office) yourself, find a woman to support.” Kirsten Gillibrand, US Senator & NY Times Best Selling Author
“I write to fight.” Sweta Vikram, Best Selling Author & Entrepreneur
“…I think women should stand up, if they’re angry, they should be angry. If they’re worried, they should be worried. If they’re concerned, they should be concerned and just articulate as aggressively and loudly as you can how you feel. Why you think this is dangerous for your daughters and your sons. The important thing about this moment is that our voices really do matter.” Kirsten Gillibrand, US Senator & NY Times Best Selling Author
“Own these issues of women’s sexual health, we are incredible storytellers and share in our communities. For the conversations that help change our lives, look to each other.” Keech Combe Shetty, CEO Combe Inc.
“Protest… find friends in all 50 states and use every platform to tell your story. Tell your why… It’s about our passion, if we are not heard our rights will be taken away for a generation… The lives of women are at risk. Fight like your life depends on it because it does.” Kirsten Gillibrand, US Senator & NY Times Best Selling Author
History teaches us, atrocities are not isolated incidents. The fight to equally value humanity, retain control over our bodies and honor our environment, stubbornly remains…despite our fervent wish that these matters be sacred. Forever supported. Unfortunately, the course of human history hasn’t worked that way.
Your political affiliation is not important. Although we’re already the busiest people on the planet, Moms have power to make the world better – where our children can freely pursue their talents in a healthier, safer and more equitable environment. As one brave federal worker begged us during the conference, standing with tears in her eyes, “Don’t fall asleep. Focus on the issues and don’t take your eyes away!”
If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few amazing nonprofits that I am involved in. Whether you want to attend or organize events, sign petitions or call elected officials, all of those activities help: Mom’s Rising, Everytown for Gun Safety, and When We All Vote.