Part of the reality of activism is the action itself: The policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change. (OED)
People who participate in activism do it for many reasons: it's a cause they believe in, to support their peers and friends, to promote equality, for the betterment of society. For some it's out of a negative context; from a place of anger or hurt or rebellion.
So why I am an activist for gender equality? Partly because I believe that women ad men were made equal in the eyes of God, and as such we should be afforded equal status in society. Partly because I come from a comfortable place of privilege where I have the option to stand up for those who are not as fortunate. Partly because the more I hear and learn and see about the subtle and overt forms of rampant sexism in our society, the more I feel called to action.
Today I heard numerous examples of gender injustice and gender inequality, and I heard many examples of people acting out against it. It was a powerful and inspiring day.
My day started with worship, hearing the story of Hagar's empowerment as child of God. Sameera Nazir of PODA spoke passionately of her work to change the role of women and girls in rural Pakistan from 'vulnerable' to 'effective change makers'. The UN World Food Program shared newest data on the interconnectivity of rural women's empowerment as a result of the Food Assistance for Assets program, from increases in nutrition, livelihood, leadership and decision-making, social connections, and understanding of rights. Mary Robinson and Geraldine Nason led a dialogue on enabling grassroots and indigenous women's participation in gender responsive climate action, highlighting the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and men in rural settings, and the need to re-imagine the conversation around policy creation and implementation at the local, national, and international levels. The day finished with a networking opportunity through Ecumenical Women.
So why am I an activist? Because I listened to experts discuss what is possible, and questions began to form. I wondered how PODA provides age-appropriate programs for the women and the girls. I wondered how the WFP would use empowered FAA-recipient women to make the shift from food security to food sovereignty. I wondered if they were still using terminator seeds as part of their program. I wondered if Canada was a cautionary tale as the Missing and Murdered Women and Girls demonstrates a marginalised community being doubly silenced. I wondered if it was appropriate to invite people to challenge their faith leaders to openly discuss climate change and it's devastating impacts as a response to the innate spirituality of the planet (and that we have the community partners, mandate for justice, and forum for communication). I wondered... a lot of things. And I know that my sisters and brothers at dinner had wonderments of their own.
And I knew that while I wondered these things, the time to of wonder is over; the time to act is now. Carefully, and learning from new mistakes, it is imperative to respond to gender inequality; by taking action: in prayer, in protest, in advocacy.
Why am I an activist? Because I can be: and because the world needs me.