If you’ve been on Instagram in the past two weeks, you may have noticed a lot of women posting black and white selfies with the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted and captioned with “empower women”. Maybe you posted one yourself! There was a lot going around about the origin of the trend, whether it came from a cancer awareness campaign in 2016 or Turkish feminists raising awareness about the surge in femicides this year in Turkey, or somewhere else entirely.
The confusion around the origin of the trend brings up a critical point about advocacy in the age of social media. While it is SO IMPORTANT to raise awareness and posting on social media is a great way to do so, it is equally important to not stop there.
If you’re looking for the next steps to empower women, here are 4 things you can do!
This might be the most obvious, but also the biggest elephant in the room. The truth is, one of the best things that we can do if we have the resources, is donate to organizations who are supporting and empowering women.
Be sure to vet the organization first (Charity Navigator is a great resource for this). Grassroots, community based organizations are often the best places to donate to make sure the money is going directly to those who need it.
And remember, no donation is too small.
If there’s one thing we’re learning in this age of social media, it’s that misinformation is everywhere. While many folks are well-intentioned, the reality is that spreading incorrect statistics and false information about a particular issue can actually do a lot of damage to the cause.
Whether your passionate about ending sex-trafficking, supporting survivors, education for women and girls or any other worthy cause, make sure you learn about the issue from trusted, vetted sources. Fact check yourself before posting, and beware of confirmation bias.
Volunteering your expertise to an organization that supports and empowers women is an amazing way to get involved. This might seem impossible right now because of COVID-19, but even if there isn’t in-person volunteer opportunities available, there are still plenty of ways you can get involved virtually. Find what works for you!
Last, but certainly not least, voting is a key way to get involved the most important issues of our time. We all the know there is a very important presidential election coming up, but that’s not the only time you should be casting your vote! Voting in your local and state elections is SO IMPORTANT. This is a key way for you to ensure that your community is one that is empowering and just.
Research your candidates. Find out who is doing the work to support marginalized folks. Elect minority and women candidates. We can create the society we want, and voting is a crucial part of doing this.
In this day in age, it is crucial to use our voices to speak out against injustice, to empower each other, and to fight for what’s right. So let’s speak up! Let’s post on Instagram and Facebook and advocate for the things that are important to us. But equally crucial is to practice what we preach, put our money where our mouths are and to advocate with integrity.
Elizabeth Endara is a writer, advocate, doula, yoga teacher and cat mom based in Chicago. She loves Great British Bake-Off, Eastern Europe, snug coffee shops and writing about her feelings. She is the co-founder of a feminist blog called Release the Women and you can follow her work on Instagram @elizabetheendara.