[Brussels, 7 February 2017] European Women’s Lobby’s Joanna Maycock shares her top ten things you can do NOW to make a difference.
Like so many others, over the past few weeks, the staff and members of the European Women’s Lobby have been out on the streets, making our voices heard.
Joining millions of women all around the world, we took to the streets to raise awareness about the denial of women’s human rights, about the continuing economic and social inequality women face, and about the marginalisation and silencing of women’s voices.
We mobilised to mark our outrage about the continuing intolerable levels of violence against women.
We marched as women in all our diversity across class, ethnicity, migration, sexual orientation, ability and age status.
We stood together, to show the world just how powerful our 51 percent of the population really is.
As Secretary General of the EWL and a lifelong feminist, I am excited to see a renewed vigour in women’s activism, to see women in great numbers stand up for what they believe in. I am inspired to see so much creativity, energy, humour and agency amongst the protesters - including millions of women who have never publically risen up for women’s rights before, joining their voices to the many millions who have made this struggle their life’s work.
Here at EWL, we are deeply concerned about the rise of populist, racist and sexist political movements in the US, across Europe and throught the world, and we know this can only be resisted by a mass mobilisation of citizens, and especially by women.
The global women’s marches of 2017 marked yet another important moment in the long history of feminist activism. But as the sense of solidarity and hope inspired by the protests begins to fade, and the reality of our current political climate sets in, it is easy to feel lost and unsure of what the next steps should we.
What do we do now?
How do we direct the energy generated in frustration and anger, into building strategic campaigns and connecting struggles and movements?
How do we build on our momentum to drive real concrete change?
While I have seen lists of specific targeted actions for those people and organisations in the US to undertake, I wanted to share with you the European Women Lobby’s ideas for how those of us here in Europe can stay involved, informed and active. We all need to stay vigilant and vocal.
Here are ten things you can do NOW to continue fanning the flames of resistance:
1. Speak out: resist any attempts to normalize sexist behaviour or language in the street, home, media or workplace.
2. Organise a listening circle/conversation amongst women in your community breaking down barriers and engaging in listening to issues and concerns of women around you: in your workplace; in your sector; in your school or in your village.
3. Volunteer your time or resources: many women’s organisation and grassroots and frontline organisations rely on volunteers to help with their advocacy and campaigns, and also counselling, language classes, artistic activities to bring self-esteem and support socialisation capacities. Women’s organisations need financial and/or human resources, for example, to help survivors of male violence, or to advocate for women’s economic empowerment, or to fight against discrimination or sexual harassment. Find out more about the work of the EWL National Coordinations in 31 European countries and our 19 European-wide member organisations.
4. Join a local Feminist Meet-Up Group, in person or online, such as Young Feminist Europe. This movement of young feminists can give you instructions on how to set up your own local chapter of YFE.
5. Write to yourMEP, your MP or your local councilor: tell them why you were inspired by the women’s marches and ask them what they are doing to respond to the women’s demands for women’s human rights and gender equality.
6. Consider getting involved in politics – find a political party that matches your ideas, use these online resources to build your own political capacity. And if you can’t find one, consider starting your own feminist party! (It’s already happening in Swedenand the UK!)
7. Join a feminist campaign: for example, find out how to support actions in the framework of One Billion Rising. This year’s actions on 14 February 2017 are targeted at rising in solidarity against the exploitation of women. The EWL is organising a social media action on that day and focusing on our joint struggle against sexual exploitation. You can share and retweet our visuals and messages in Facebook and Twitter and follow and use the hashtags #RiseInSolidarity, #1billionrising and #EndDemand.
8. Consider joining the EWL network of youth activists against youth sexual exploitation! Contact Pape@womenlobby.org to get involved.
9. Ask your Member States to fully support the signature and ratification of the Istanbul Convention by the EU, within the broadest scope of EU competence as possible and without any reservations. You can send the factsheet issued by the European Coalition to end violence against women and girls to the relevant authority in your country or the Permanent representation of your country to the EU. You can also join the national campaigns for the ratification/adequate implementation of the Istanbul Convention in your country.
10. Donate to the European Women’s Lobby and other organisations on the frontline of the fight for women’s rights in Europe and around the world!
Do you have additional suggestions or resources to share? Let us know at EWL@womenlobby.org!