In 2012 Anchal wrote "We Are All Malala" in defense of the young Pakistani activist who was attacked by the Taliban in October 2012. The assassination attempt reminded the international community of a persistent threat to the development of a sustainable and peaceful world and it outraged us all. In months following, Anchal wrote about another tragedy in neighboring India, where a second student had been brutally beaten and gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi. A third reminder came more recently from Nigeria as a fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, broke into a secondary school and kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls. And on the heels of the Nigerian school tragedy, a targeted killing spree took the lives of several young students here in the United States.
When such events are mentioned in conjuncture with challenges in international peace and security, it’s not often that the following conversation will focus on gender equality. Yet a closer look into the tragedies in Pakistan, India, Nigeria and the U.S. reveals that the violence in each incident was directed against women. And each time we demanded that it be the last.
“Violence against women and girls is a global problem; it harms women, families, communities and societies. We can only stop it by working together. Women and men”, says UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon; and he is not alone in his belief that gender equality can solely be achieved through male and female collaboration.
Social rights activist and Noble Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as celebrity activist Matt Damon have publically expressed their support through the U.N. Women’s #HeForShe campaign --a social justice initiative uniting male voices in support for greater gender equality. These men, as well as many others, understand the power of women in community building, peacemaking and economic revitalization at local and global levels. They understand that gender equality is “both a human right and a precondition for and indicator of sustainable, people-centered development” and that men’s support is crucial in enabling women to engage more productively in these areas.
The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women acknowledges that "Men may recognize that they benefit in the long term from the collective well-being that follows from education, improvements in health, and access to employment or income-generating activities for women and girls," and research continues to support that gender inequality "can be damaging for men's health, and increased equality can contribute to men's personal well-being and quality of life. Men can increasingly see the negative impacts of gender inequality on their different social relationships with the women and girls with whom they live, work and interact.
Unfortunately, rationale alone will not attract a sufficient amount of men to gender equality work. But as collective interest and personal well-being have gained recognition, ways for men to get involved in gender equality work are more accessible than ever. For starters, explore the following hashtags and Twitter Handles, their associated organizations and the important programs they facilitate:
- HeForShe is a UN Women Campaign for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Men: Tweet @UN_Women using the hashtag#HeForShe to discuss gender equality issues important to you.
- The UN Secretary General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign offers many ways to take action, including the organization of “Orange Day” which designates the 25th of each month as a day to take action and raise awareness on violence against women and girls. Follow them @SayNO_UNiTE or sign up for news and action alerts here.
- The Beijing Platform for Action is celebrating 20 years of “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity” and is inviting you to engage in the conversation on featured monthly topics using the hashtag #Beijing20.
- Become an Anchal Advocate, sponsor an artisan, or volunteer with Anchal's upcoming Trunk Show.
Get involved with one of these awesome projects today and make last week's attack against women and girls the last one. We can do it but it takes us all. We are all Malala.
-Nick (guest blogger)
Nicholas Montella holds his B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Global Studies and International Affairs from Northeastern University. He is an expert in community development and has focused on global security and education projects in Europe, Peru, China and the U.S. He is currently living and teaching in Seoul, South Korea. Follow him @nickmontella.
Photo provided by Community Table