This December we’re celebrating the year’s best girls’ rights and gender equality allies.
2018 saw the launch of Girls Get Equal, the global, girl-led campaign for gender equality. Built into this campaign is a clear message about the need for the support of allies.
Why? Marginalised groups will only achieve justice and equality with the support of allies, who can use whatever power and privilege they may have to promote social justice.
What makes a good gender equality / feminist / LGBT+ ally?
- Ally is a verb. You must be proactive and ready to speak out about injustice even where it doesn’t directly affect you. Know that you can work to bring an end to inequality for others.
- Knowledge is power. You must listen to marginalised groups and educate yourself about their experience. This could be girls or young people, the LGBTIQ+ community, the differently abled or members of other races, nationalities and indigenous groups.
- You must speak up but never over those you mean to support. Acknowledge that lived experience trumps what you think you may know. But where others are unable to speak, YOU can speak up for them.
- Finally, a good ally must acknowledge their mistakes. We all make them. Apologise when you do and see it as a learning experience.
Here are the best allies of 2018:
1. Cleo Wade
Poet, artist and storyteller Cleo Wade announced her support for girls’ rights this year at the Global Girls’ Summit at the launch of Girls Get Equal.
The 28-year-old has said of the campaign, and the need for allies to support girls' issues:
"It is critical that we empower girls, because when we do so, we open their eyes to just how worthy and capable they are of becoming world-changing women. When we empower them, we fulfill our duty to show them that they are important and that they matter. Truly, every single day is international day of the girl.”
2. The ‘Fab 5’ from Queer Eye
Karamo, Antony, Tan, Bobby and Jonathan have been toppling toxic masculinity one french-tuck at a time across the Southern states of America in Netflix’s Queer Eye.
The show became an instant hit as it preached self-respect, love and compassion to men (and one woman) who were going through big life events or had lost their focus and self-esteem in one way or another. The results have been tear-jerking.
What is toxic masculinity? Our gender expert, Alex Munive explains:
“Across the world, women are discriminated against due to their gender. However, gender norms also reinforce a violent concept of masculinity that relate to core ideas that most cultures have about what it means to ‘be a man’ - how men are expected to live their lives and relate to other people.
Damaging behaviours are often attributed to and rewarded in men, such as competitiveness, inability to show emotion, demonstrating virility, risk- seeking and the use of violence.
These behaviours grant power to men, while adding to the subordination of women. This widespread concept of masculinity is one of the main drivers of physical, physiological and sexual violence. However, it’s also damaging to men. It’s becoming increasingly important that these negative masculinities are examined.”
Great news, then, that the show’s third series will begin in 2019.
3. Gonzalo and Sifat
These two inspirational allies helped design the Girls Get Equal campaign to ensure that men, boys and non-binary folk across the globe feel included and inspired to help.
Twenty-one-year-old Sifat from Bangladesh explains why he’s such an active campaigner against child marriage and ally to gender equality:
“Communities are not always ready to listen to girls. In our society, men and boys are in a safer position to be activists.”
Gonzalo helped explain the importance of intersectionality in the pursuit of social justice in his blog: What’s a man’s role in gender equality activism?
4. Adriene Mishler
Texan yoga-guru Adriene (of the YouTube channel Yoga With Adriene) ran a self-care for activists workshop at our Global Girls’ Summit this year while extolling the importance of avoiding burnout when campaigning for equality and girls' rights.
She also gave campaigners young and old some sage advice in this inspirational article about maintaining grace, poise and balance in the ‘good fight.’
Read: It’s a graceful fight.
5. Nicole Maines
Nicole Maines is set to feature in the upcoming Supergirl series, becoming the first trans person to take on the role of a superhero and a trailblazer of transgender visibility.
But the 21-year-old is also a solid ally to other girls across the globe.
Allies don’t only take the form of the most privileged people on the planet. You can be part of a marginalised group and still speak out for the rights of others who face injustice, as Nicole demonstrates in her support of Girls Get Equal.
Despite her star rising at light-speed, she took time to pledge her commitment to girls everywhere.
Watch the video and try not to be inspired:
6. Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Thirty-four years after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending apartheid in South Africa, the Archbishop awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize to the Parkland Student Activists from the USA.
The group have tirelessly campaigned for stronger gun laws after their school was victim to a mass-shooting incident in March.
The 87-year-old has shown what a fantastic ally he is by using his platform to raise the profile of this powerful display of youth-led collective action.
"The peaceful campaign to demand safe schools and communities and the eradication of gun violence is reminiscent of other great peace movements in history," Tutu said. "I am in awe of these children, whose powerful message is amplified by their youthful energy and an unshakable belief that children can - no, must - improve their own futures."
7. Timothée Chalamet
The star of the Oscar-winning movie ‘Call Me By Your Name’ will donate his fee for his role in a recent Woody Allen film to three very worthy charities: Time’s Up, the LGBT Centre in New York, and Rainn [the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network].
“I am learning that a good role isn’t the only criteria for accepting a job – that has become much clearer to me in the past few months, having witnessed the birth of a powerful movement intent on ending injustice, inequality and above all, silence… I don’t want to profit from my work on the film,” Chalamet has said in an interview with the Guardian.
A great lesson can be learned in Timothee’s actions. He realised he had made a mistake. He reflected on his actions and has tried his best to put it right - a great example of ally-ship.
Here’s to many more awesome allies helping Girls Get Equal in 2019.
You can be an ally too! Start by sign the Girls Get Equal pledge below.
Take the pledge
I pledge to help build a world where girls are equally seen, heard and valued.
I won’t stop until #GirlsGetEqual freedom. I will defend their right to be safe wherever they are, and speak up without fear of harassment or violence.
I won’t stop until #GirlsGetEqual power. I will support girls to become leaders and take part in all decisions that affect their lives.
I won’t stop until #GirlsGetEqual stories. I will call out discrimination and stereotyping where I see it on the screen, in print and in advertising, to make room for stories of girls’ power and achievement.