7 Essential Ways You Can Help Women Now
Marches and donations to Planned Parenthood are just the beginning.
Photo of the 2017 Women's March by Amandalynn Jones/Wikimedia Commons.
Women from nations from all over the world gathered over the weekend for the 2018 Women’s March.
This demonstration of female solidarity is the next promising phase of social change with marches held in multiple cities across the United States under the rallying cry that was the Women’s March — originally organized in direct response to the new administration’s attacks on reproductive rights and general disregard for the sovereignty of women’s bodies.
As long-time activists know, taking to the streets, while effective, is just a jumping-off point for both small and large actions that need to be taken every day to ensure that human rights are respected here and abroad.
GOOD spoke with community organizers, women entrepreneurs, social workers, and other experts to develop this simple guide to sustaining feminist progress at home, at work, on Capitol Hill, and around the world.
1. Subscribe to a mailing list.
It may feel a little silly to expect clicking “subscribe” to lead to change, but mailing lists can offer targeted direct local actions, illuminating thought pieces, and inspiring cartoons. One of our favorites is actionnow, run by Mikki Halpin, a writer published in Teen Vogue, Lenny, and elsewhere.
[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]More than ever, we need to make sure that the voices of the institutionally silenced are being heard and acted upon.[/quote]
“I started it partially as an easy way to respond to people who were reaching out to me and asking, ‘What can I do?’” says the veteran activist. In her signature conversational tone, Halpin guides readers on everything from finding a local activist group that fits their interests to starting a feminist book club.
2. Be a better listener (or at least a more informed talker).
Elizabeth Warren was silenced on the Senate floor, and the art listening — and persisting — got a signal boost. More than just a valuable social skill, it’s a radical way to step outside your comfort zone and get to know others who may be struggling even more than you.
“Now is a time when, more than ever, we need to make sure that the voices of the historically institutionally silenced are at the forefront, being heard and acted upon,” says Sunny Maguire, a NYC-based social worker and activist, and the moderator behind the NY Political Info Share Facebook group. There, she offers everything from resources to emotional support, inviting her members to collectively share worries, fears, and experiences; offer help; or illuminate a larger dialogue on race, gender, and class in America.
3. Give to an organization that benefits women.
Planned Parenthood has been getting lots of love over the past year — and even more donations. But they’re just one of many groups that need your help. Ana Oliveira, president and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation, encourages the public to engage on multiple levels. “There are also local groups right where we live, whose activities are incredibly important. Helping can also mean volunteering and engaging local communities that are connected to women and girls,” she says.
If you’d like to join or donate to a local women’s advocacy group, check out National Organization of Women, which has hundreds of chapters and thousands of members in all 50 states.
4. Wield your wallet for good.
As the civil rights movement in America — and the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa — taught us, a boycott can go a long way. If you don’t have the means to financially contribute but still want to use your dollars to make a difference, visit the app store and download Boycott Trump. This free app from the Democratic Coalition Against Trump offers the chance for consumers to see if businesses and organizations have a connection to Trump.
[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]For the first time, women in rural villages start to believe that they’re entitled to equal rights, an education, and a career.[/quote]
There’s also the #grabyourwallet hashtag and the accompanying comprehensive Google doc, which allows users to search where their favorite brands stand on Trump and his policies. Because nothing looks as good as fighting the patriarchy feels.
5. Support female-run businesses.
Sometimes supporting women can be as basic as choosing female-friendly businesses and media outlets. “We felt it was important to make as much space at the front of movements as possible to embrace the messy and rich side of feminist progress,” says Thalia Mavros, creator of The FRONT, an all-female production and media company. “That notion is what drives us.”
Mavros’ company is currently working on a series of short documentaries on marginalized subcultures and topics, with a heavy emphasis on feminist equality. Want to learn more about female-run businesses? Women Impacting Public Policy works on behalf of women business owners in the legislative processes and are basically our allies on the inside.
6. Think outside the box (and your ZIP code).
Sometimes help can simply mean donating good reading lights. Off Grid Electric works to bring solar energy to African communities where energy is scarce, and women are often too burdened by housework to focus on education or entrepreneurial interests. By providing clean, affordable power to these regions, the group is helping these women gain access and connectivity to a light source, as well as information and news from outside their communities.
“I’ve seen firsthand how television and radio can expose women to stories of others who are global leaders,” says Irene Leonard Mbowe, marketing coordinator for Off Grid Electric. “For the first time, women in rural villages start to believe that they’re entitled to equal rights, an education, and a career. That is the first step to social change.”
7. Get involved in politics.
Women: Do you care about the decisions being made about your own body? Nervous that most of them seem to be made by one specific demographic? Why not throw your hat into the political ring? For almost a decade, She Should Run has been providing mentorship and resources to over 100k prospective female politicians, across the world. Interested but don't live near a She Should Run office? You can also sign up for the She Should Run incubator and receive online classes right from home.
[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]We felt it was important to embrace the messy and rich side of feminist progress.[/quote]
If you’re not quite ready to take this step, don’t forget to call your representatives. Rather than just emailing or posting to Twitter, it’s one of the best and quickest ways to initiate direct action — and has already helped guide major decisions. If you’re unsure who your rep is, check out this handy government directory or follow activist network Indivisible for tips.