Actions You Can Take Towards Gender Equality & Women's Empowerment

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Actions You Can Take Towards Gender Equality & Women's Empowerment
Seisen International Women’s Day Committee

On International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2022, we asked the Seisen Community:

What tangible actions/steps could we take to further support gender equality and women's empowerment?

We received nearly 500 responses from over 200 contributors. These suggestions were compiled into four types of service actions as defined by the International Baccalaureate; Direct Action, Indirect Action, Advocacy, and Research.

Want to know how you can make a difference? Check out the ideas below!

Direct Action

Create

  • Design less sexualized sport uniforms for women.
  • Create/design/write more heroic, inspirational and confident women characters of all shapes and sizes, races and ethnicities, and backgrounds, so unrealistic expectations/stereotypes are not formed and there is greater representation especially in media targeted towards children.
  • Create your own women’s magazine with content that is meaningful and relevant (beyond physical appearance)

Donate

  • Raise money for scholarships so that women can go to school
  • Donate free menstrual supplies to women in need

Petition

  • Petition schools/universities/workplaces to refrain from revealing gender in the application/hiring process to bestow equal opportunities to everyone regardless of their gender.
  • Petition companies/write policy for companies advocating for transparency in wages and pay scales so that people are paid according to their role and not their gender. 
  • Petition local pharmacies/businesses in Japan to stop putting products such as tampons, pads, etc. in black bags rather than normal clear ones. Normalize and destigmatize buying the things we need to keep us healthy.
  • Petition media outlets (or write articles for them) to promote more ‘female’ sports and women in sports
  • Petition local businesses to have a sexual harassment policy
  • Petition local school boards to re-examine sexist dress codes and practices (eg. recent revision of public school dress codes in Japan)
  • Petition cartoon channels/shows to include greater representation
  • Petition local governments to offer menstrual supplies for women for free or reduced prices
  • Petition local magazines to include less appearance-related content (i.e. how to lose weight or look a certain way)
  • Petition local companies to include more women in the hiring process and create anti-discrimination policies in the hiring process
  • Petition local companies to have equal maternity and paternity leave, equal access to medical care and insurance for male and female employees, and access to child care.
  • Petition sporting institutions to include more female players, coaches, managers, assistants, trainers, etc.
  • Close the sponsorship gap
  • Mixed-gender sporting clubs

Organize

  • Organize a career day (maybe part of future day?) in which female role models show what kinds of jobs are out there -- especially male-dominated fields.
  • harness members of our community and also members of the international world who are strong female role models in all walks of life. Let's try to invite strong females from diverse industries and backgrounds (sports people, engineers, architects, teachers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, artists, dancers, waitresses etc) to deliver a zoom presentation to our students over the course of women’s month (March).
  • Create a women’s support group where women/girls can talk/call about their experience without any judgment and receive help/answers to their questions.


Indirect Action

Support local women-run businesses

  • Work to become more comfortable with transparency in wages, etc. so that fewer companies can get away with secretly giving some people less money than others.
  • Make conscious choices not to play into stereotypes ourselves (for example not blaming being upset about something on hormones).
  • Challenge stereotypes in everyday situations (eg. “I need some strong young women to help me carry this heavy thing”)
  • Learn to be an attentive listener. Really hear what people, especially children are saying since they understand and express more about gender stereotypes and inequality than many adults give them credit for. Being a good listener also means that it is more likely that vulnerable people will come to you for help/advice.
  • Advocate for your needs and the needs of other women around you
  • Learn more about Human Rights in general and SDG #5 in particular
  • Challenge the stereotypical housewife gender role by following your passions and daring to do/become more than what other people expect of you.


Advocacy

Awareness Campaigns

  • Create an awareness campaign which challenges the traditional understanding of “feminine” (eg. pink, delicate, submissive). Provide alternative examples of what feminine can look like/be like/present like.
  • Teach women/girls how to protect and stand-up for themselves,- (teach self- defense and protection, Carrying around safety materials, shut down negative comments, keep evidence, talk to trusted adult) (PSHE?)
  • Awareness of feminism and women’s rights around the world. Teaching men and women about different cultures and appearances will help them understand why someone dresses in a specific way or looks a specific way (ex. Controversy of hijab). This will also encourage people to learn more about cultures around the world, their histories and their trends. 
  • Highlight male role models who talk about how women should be equal 
  • By extension, highlight how all men can be allies (ex. #HeforShe)
  • Create guidance for teachers on what kind of comments are ok/not ok to say to students regarding their appearance (ex. Instead of saying xyz, try saying xyz). This will help combat unintentional inappropriateness and help promote mutual understanding so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Create an awareness/advocacy campaign about women (including trans women) in sports to promote equal access to sports
  • Promote a paradigm change of doing sports for well-being rather than competition
  • Make videos about gender equality on social media

Specifically for Boys/Men

  • Create an awareness campaign for boys for career day about being a stay-at-home day/househusband
  • Create an awareness campaign about toxic masculinity and how to recognize it, respond to it, and avoid playing into it. 
  • Educate boys and men about the reality of sexual harrasments (for example, issues that happen on trains in Japan)
  • Educate men and boys about obtaining consent
  • Create an awareness campaign about how men/boys should control themselves and avoid distraction, rather than women being taught to avoid “the male gaze” and “distracting boys”. This narrative teaches that men are not responsible for their actions, and that women are responsible for the actions of men.

How-To Guides

  • How to make women feel safe
  • How to self reflect and watch our own use of language (eg. Don’t Say “That’s for girls/boys”)
  • How to be appropriately assertive in the workplace/how to be confident
  • How to be a role model for young girls
  • How to be an ally (for men)
  • How to challenge gender stereotypes and gender roles in everyday situations (eg. when somebody makes a comment about the way a lady looks, ask them why they said that)
  • How to use pronouns properly
  • How to create a work environment where workers (especially women) can express their concerns and feelings about certain things about their workplace. 
  • How to educate/parent young children to support gender equality


Research

  • Compile a recommended book/reading list for learning more (including books by female authors of different backgrounds)
  • Conduct a study/review of resources in classroom displays, presentations/etc. And suggest which resources could be refined to include greater representation of all genders/ethnicities/backgrounds.
  • Conduct research about local small businesses which are owned/run by women and publish that information so that more people can support them
  • Teachers: Do a bit more research/ask students about the role models that our students love and respect (stay current and connected).
  • Survey our students about which sports are on offer at Seisen at work with Ms. Jury to create more opportunities for sports at Seisen
  • Conduct a study/review of dress codes/policies in local businesses and suggest revisions
  • Conduct a study/review of how many local businesses have sexual harassment/antidescrimination hiring policies.
  • Build a resource bank to make it easier for people to educate themselves about related issues

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