Will you commit to taking action to improve gender? This is the question being posed by the United Nations-backed HeForShe movement, which has launched a new campaign called ‘I Do.’
The commitment doesn’t have to be burdensome. It could be as simple as committing to talking to your children about relationships and consent. Such tiny acts can go a long way.
I’ve long admired HeForShe. There are campaigns for equality that talk about “gender wars” or treat men as a problem that need fixing. I’ve always felt HeForShe is collaborative in nature, recognising people of all genders face inequality and focusing on working together to come up with solutions.
The I Do campaign
Following on from what I’ve said above, the ‘I Do’ campaign (it has a hashtag too: #IDo) is asking people to commit to taking action because gender equality benefits everybody. This is an argument I have long put forward. When it comes to family life, an area I have a particular interest in, gender barriers and expectations mean women are often forced into caring roles whereas men are forced to go out to work. These strict gender roles do not benefit society.
The idea is to commit to promoting gender equality in four areas:
- Family – Everyone is encouraged to undertake acts that support partners and involved parenting.
- Friends – Calling out sexist and violent language among friends with male peers in particular asked to take these actions.
- Colleagues – Supporting equal opportunities in the workplace with a focus on equal pay for equal work
- Yourself as an individual – Taking action and changing attitudes that challenge male stereotypes with a particular focus on men’s mental health.
How you can take part
Firstly, give some thought as to what you can do. It can be as simple as committing to calling out friends when they make an unacceptably sexist comment or when you hear someone catcalling in the street.
You could commit to having discussions with your sons and daughters about consent. You could also commit to taking a more hands-on role as a parent as children benefit from seeing both parents doing childcare.
If you need ideas or inspiration or would like more information, head over to the HeForShe website. Do also check out the #IDo and #HeForShe to see what other people have committed to doing. Do also keep an eye out for further news on this campaign. In the coming weeks, HeForShe will be announcing details of a summit where ideas for improving gender equality will be discussed.
I hope you will consider taking part in the I Do campaign and post post your commitment to social media to encourage others. The trick, however, is not simply to commit, but to follow through with action. Actions, so the saying goes, speak louder than words.