I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. – Audre Lorde
I raise up my voice—not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. – Malala Yousefzai
Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women. – Maya Angelou
As the website for International Women’s Day states, “A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions — all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. From challenge comes change…” This prompt is an invitation to show your commitment to challenging gender inequality and helping forge an inclusive world.
Think of a time when someone used their voice to challenge gender inequality, call out gender bias, question gender stereotypes or make a community more inclusive for women. The person who used their voice could be you! It could also be someone you know or some public figure. What was the situation, how did the person speak out, and what difference did it make? If you were the challenger, how did it feel to speak up in this way? If you were just an observer, how did it feel to witness or learn about this event? Describe the event in detail so we can appreciate what it took to speak up in this instance. Next explore why using your voice to point out and challenge gender inequality can be difficult but rewarding. Finally, make a case for why we can all benefit from working to create a more inclusive world.
There may be a few different types of people in your audience. Some readers may recognize that gender inequality is a problem, but they are not sure what they can do to make a difference. They need a nudge to take action. Others in your audience may not realize just how important this issue is but are open to considering it newly from your perspective.
Your primary purpose is to inspire readers to #ChooseToChallenge since that’s what this year’s International Women’s Day is all about. Along with that, you are helping readers to see the benefits of living in a more inclusive society.
- Reflect on examples. Think of the gender inequities, stereotypes or bias you have witnessed or experienced firsthand. Can you think of times when you did speak up? Or times when you wished you had? Can you think of times others spoke up that made you inspired or uncomfortable? If not personal experiences come to mind, reflect on examples from current events or history that stand out to you.
- Find your focus. From your list, pick the example that left the biggest impression on you, one that you’ll be able to describe in detail.
- Analyze your audience. What bias or assumptions might they bring to the table as readers? What feelings do you want to engage in them? A feeling of empathy? injustice? hope?
- Freewrite on the three parts of the prompt. 1) The example you participated in or observed. 2) Why using one’s voice is difficult but rewarding. 3) Why a more inclusive world is beneficial to everyone.
- Look for themes. Are there any big ideas that you have mentioned in all three parts of your freewrite? What are the common themes? How can you use these to bring focus to your piece?
- Draft, revise, edit. Now that you’ve done all the thinking and planning, write a blog post that targets your audience and achieves your purpose.
- Title. A title will be especially important here. One technique to consider may be finding a meaningful phrase that you used somewhere in the essay itself and making that your title. Something that will spark readers’ curiosity about the topic.
How did that feel? Do you have a better sense of how your voice can make a difference? Are there other issues you feel strongly about and want to inspire others to tackle? Take a moment to appreciate what you’ve accomplished by speaking up about equality and inclusion. Where do you want to go from here?