Round-Up Talk: Equal Rights and Opportunities
Five experts, five questions: question 5
Such a commitment is very important, but not always easy. What specific tips do you have for people who also want to campaign for more equality?
It is important to be proactive and positive. We must search for likeminded people to support the cause, and believe me, there are many out there. Some will help monetarily, others will give their time and skills, and others will become actively involved in grassroots campaigns. We need to garner support from all three groups in order to change mindsets as far as gender issues and bias against those who are different, are concerned. I believe that change starts with the youth and social media is a very powerful tool that can be used to reach out to young minds and address sociological barriers, namely attitudes and norms prevalent in society. Not all families are necessarily hampered by economic constraints, still they do not consider education as important for women.
First and foremost, inform and continually update yourself on challenges and opportunities concerning equality. This concept is obviously very broad and can be applied to virtually any area of our daily lives where there is a power relationship. For that, it is important to find a tenet that you truly believe in, such as ending discrimination in the working place or putting a cap on corporate lobbying. It is also very important to understand the big picture and how a specific problem of inequality plays a role therein. Zooming out, therefore, allows you to manage your expectations when campaign actions are targeting societal symptoms and not the main disease. For instance, if you are concerned with the rights of environmental defenders, it is wise to understand not only how to increase their security, but also why companies are so keen to operate in their lands in the first place.
My field of activity is inclusive cultural work. I advise and support cultural institutions and maintain constant exchange with Finnish and other international experts, as well as with members of often ignored and marginalised groups and their organisations.
My advice is rooted in my work, but I believe it is generally applicable:
Act with others, not for others. Seek open exchange and true, trusting cooperation. Confer and discuss the situation together; establish common goals. Get informed and talk to experts. Find your own way; do not listen to the market clamour.
Be relentless. It is hard; sometimes you may feel like you’re not making any progress and everything you are doing makes little to no impact. But this is not true. Every single day you are making a difference that may bring about some societal shifts and get us closer to gender equality.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself and your needs. This may sound counterintuitive, but you can’t make much change in a burnout state of mind. To avoid that, make sure you are not overexerting yourself and that campaigning does not consume your whole life, but rather amplifies it and brings meaning to it.
Read up. The more you read or the deeper you dive into the topic, the more practical examples you will have and the more you will be able to engage people who might not otherwise be convinced by your cause.
Marco Tulio Pereira Silva:
My tips are actually really simple: be open minded, question your own certainties, observe what happens around your reality and also far from it. And last, but not least, make time for dialogue! Talk to others, especially to those who do not think like you. Be comprehensive, but as the paradox of intolerance says: tolerate no intolerance.
Campaigning for more equality does not necessarily mean taking part in street protests, being a well-known social media influencer or ascending politically to make a difference. It starts at home, in your neighbourhood, at school, at university, in the streets. Small and local commitment is the first and most important step towards equality, in my opinion.