^^Above: #HeForShe launches at Georgetown University this Spring.
By Jonathan Dromgoole, GenUN Fellow, Georgetown University
The United Nations has taken on the all important task of empowering women. Globally, women make up just about fifty percent of the population, yet their number is not represented in positions of power. Women, though critical for maintaining peace and security, are missing at the table when it comes to making decisions. We have been able to put a man on the moon and eradicate diseases, yet we can’t grant women the same rights as men? Why is it that the global community continues to systematically ignore the humanity of women in a time when gender equality is vital to our global economy and security? We, the men, have unfortunately done an incredible job at keeping women out and unfortunately in the informal economy. Given the disproportional importance that men continue to play in the world, the United Nations and UN Women launched a global HeForShe campaign to increase the amount of men who are standing up for women rights and gender equality.
“The HeForShe solidarity movement was created by UN Women to provide a systematic approach and targeted platform where a global audience can engage and become change agents for the achievement of gender equality in our lifetime. This requires an innovative, inclusive approach that mobilizes people of every gender identity and expression as advocates, and acknowledges the ways that we all benefit from this equality. HeForShe invites people everywhere to come together as equal partners to craft a shared vision of a gender equal world and implement specific, locally relevant solutions for the good of all of humanity.” Essentially HeForShe efforts focus on the fact that everyone, everywhere can be an agent for change and gender equality. However, in practice is this truly working?
At face value, I would say that the movement has sparked a conversation, but little action. While events under the banner of gender equality and UN Women are being held, the problem is the demographics that are present at those event-women. Clearly, women will be at the center of a gender equality movement focused on empowering women and there is no doubt that they clearly care about the issue. However, the HeForShe movement is meant to increase the amount of men who are there standing next to these women in solidarity for equality. Unfortunately, men are still missing in action when it comes to women’s issues, even in the United States. While a mans stamp of approval may not be crucial in the United States given the progress we have made on women’s rights and gender equality, it is the creation of a global movement and global coalition starting here in the U.S. that can have an impact in communities that continuously undervalue women.
As an advocate for human rights, and dare I say, a feminist, Georgetown’s commitment to gender equality and the HeForShe campaign illustrates the university’s understanding of the importance of not just being men and women for others, but humans for others. As one of the ten Impact universities, along with Stony Brook in the United States, in the HeForShe campaign, Georgetown University is unique in the sense that this is truly a community initiative. Young people, through the United Nations Association of Georgetown, have pushed for active dialogue with the administration and various partner organizations. Having a strong youth presence does not only provide a fresh perspective to the prestigious institution, but adds a sense of accountability to the commitments Georgetown has made. For all the studies done about millennial one thing is certain, we are a driven generation that likes to hold our leaders accountable.