International Women’s Day is March 8th each year, and this year (as I have for previous years), I’ve reflected on the women in my life, and how important it is to me that genuine equality is our shared social aim and that we actually achieve progress.
In my family, my mother and sister have been constant presences, sharing a sense of humour, a sharp curiousity and intellect, and a deep sense of compassion for others. It’s no coincidence that many of my personal values emanate from their example, and that my career has landed in communicating about social justice and human rights. I draw constantly on how they (and other women in my family) live by their principles and values, and their commitment to doing so.
The women that I have worked with and for have also been powerful influences in my professional and personal life. Some have been peers and counterparts, others have been women that I have managed, and others have managed me or been a senior leader of my workplace. My own approach to work has been challenged, tested and strengthened by the modelling and leadership of the women that have been my colleagues. While I have no qualms about working with and for women, I am glad that I am continually pushed to practice the respect and thoughtfulness that I think we all should bring to the workplace.
Finally, the many female friends I have, who have been supports, coaches, confidants, provocateurs, and co-conspirators. I am very lucky to have circles of friends, both men and women, who are clever, talented, mindful, hilarious, incisive and wise. I’m also deeply fortunate that the women who I count as my closest friends have provided me endless and diverse examples of women living excellent lives. Actors, diplomats, entrepreneurs, corporate achievers, advocates and more; I’ve benefited not only from the role-models that these women are, but also in making sure that I never struggle to think that women can’t do and be anything at all.
And while I think solidarity and visible support are important for me as a male feminist, action is also critical. I’m also a NGO fundraiser by trade, so donating to causes that support women seems like a practical and useful form of support for me to provide, as I can afford to do so. Thinking about what causes are important to me and what local (Australian) organisations are doing, I settled on making donations to three nonprofits doing diverse work, all in service of empowering women. I encourage everyone to offer financial or other support (including volunteering) to these or other organisations doing important work with women.
- The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV): domestic violence is a scourge, and one that is truly intersectional across class and wealth, geography and ethnicity, culture and status, gender and sexuality. I am glad that I work at an employer that is committed to reducing domestic violence and supporting those experiencing it, and through this donation I hope that important services can reach more people.
- International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA): poverty disproportionately affects women and girls, and sustainable solutions to long-term poverty inevitably have women and girls at their core. IWDA focuses their development practice solely through a gender lens, and employs a talented workforce of women. They do excellent work.
- Emily’s List Australia: As West Wing character CJ Cregg points out “early money is like yeast … it helps raise the dough.” The Australian chapter of Emily’s List (the Emily stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast) raises funds to support progressive female political candidates, as well as undertake other political and economic equality activities, including supporting Indigenous women to explore the political arena. Based on the quality of political leadership in Australia, we are in dire need of strong women candidates and elected politicians of from all points on the political spectrum (but my support will always be for progressive candidates).
I’m grateful that through my workplace and my role, I got to be involved in and talk all day about women and the struggle for global justice around the world. Although there is plenty to be pessimistic about in the state of gender equity and justice (particularly in the political sphere), there is also lots to be optimistic about. I can only hope that this year is better for women and girls than the last, and that next year is better than this. And the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that.