Taking the first step as an activist
“A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
– Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher (604BC – 531BC)
Idea 1: Tweet It. If you are on Twitter, make it a habit of tweeting or retweeting a piece of news about violence against women each time you log on to tweet. It’s an easy way to help raise awareness about the issue. Not sure what to tweet? Follow us on Twitter where we tweet VAW news and info 24/7 365 days a year as @pixelproject and start retweeting!
Idea 2: Blog about it. Pay attention to the headlines to catch any major news about violence against women and write a blog post about it. It doesn’t matter if it is a short blog post – what matters is that you are speaking out against violence against women.
Idea 3: Facebook It. Join groups and pages on Facebook that are campaigning to end violence against women. Join in the discussions or start one. Post news about violence against women on your profile page to raise awareness amongst your friends and family.
Idea 4: Get volunteering. Are you able to spare a couple of hours or more each week? Consider giving your local battered women’s shelter or rape crisis center a hand. If you have less time or have unpredictable hours due to work, you can try virtual volunteering or seasonal volunteering during holidays.
Idea 5: Sign a petition. The next time you hear about a petition to stop a woman from being stoned or to protest against a gender violence atrocity such as wartime rape, step up to sign it.
Idea 6: Write a letter. If you see a movie, a magazine, a song or any other high-profile pop culture item that trivialises violence against women, write a letter to the producer/the editor/the artiste/the director to protest and tell them why you are protesting. Remember: Keep it civil – abrasive and foul language never got anyone anywhere.
Idea 7: Set a good example. If you have children and young people in your life, start setting a good example by opting for non-violent solutions when resolving interpersonal problems. Show them that it is possible to both respect and disagree with another person without resorting to sexism, degradation or violence.
Idea 8: Listen. If you know someone who is facing gender-based violence in her life such as domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, forced marriage etc, start by being a good listener for them. Don’t judge – just listen. Victims frequently feel isolated and helpless and having someone listen to them is the first step towards getting help for themselves.
Idea 9: Be an upstander. If you see a woman or girl being attacked in any way, step in to help. It could be dialling 911 immediately if the situation is too dangerous. It could be stepping in to stand up to the perpetrator to get them to back down and stop the abuse. Whatever you do – do not walk away. It may cost someone her life.
Idea 10: Mark your calender (and take action). Whenever occasions such as International Women’s Day, Domestic Violence Awareness Month or International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women happens, find a campaign that is happening online or near you and participate!
Idea 11: Give what you can. Find a reputable local or global nonprofit working to end violence against women and make a small donation – even just US$5 or US$10 helps. Every single penny/cent counts and the best nonprofits make every penny stretch.
Idea 12: Hobbies that help. Good at knitting? Fabulous at baking? Consider starting a small fundraiser or awareness-raising effort involving your local community with the proceeds donated to your local battered women’s shelter or rape crisis centre.
Idea 13: Gift ideas. If you are getting married or celebrating your birthday, ditch the gifts. Instead, ask your friends and family to donate their money or volunteer time to your choice of nonprofit organization working to end violence against women.
Idea 14: Forward it on. If you have received a call-to-action for any campaign to stop violence against women via email, don’t delete it. Forward it on to 5 or 10 of your friends whom you know would be interested or open to learning about the issue.
Idea 15: Wear it well. Wear the purple, white or purple-and-white ribbons that are associated with the cause to end violence against women. More often than not, seeing the ribbon would spark conversation, giving you an opening to help raise awareness about the issue.
Idea 16: Nip it in the bud. If you are witness or any conversation or interaction that trivializes, reinforces or urges violence against women, step up and speak up. Don’t remain silent because it is not okay to denigrate women and to trivialize violence.
What are you going to do?
Photo from Howzey.