Guide to Activism: The Power of the Individual

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Women around the world need your help. You can make a difference.

Equality Now is an international human rights organization dedicated to action for the civil, political, economic and social rights of girls and women. Issues of concern to Equality Now include rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, reproductive rights, trafficking in women and girls and other forms of violence and discrimination that result in the degradation, enslavement, injury and death of women and girls every day around the world. Taking advantage of action techniques such as letterwriting, fax and email campaigns, media events and public information activities, Equality Now mobilizes action on behalf of individual women whose rights are being violated and promotes women’s rights at the local, national and international levels. You can help protect the human rights of women by joining the Equality Action Network.

The Equality Action Network is the nerve center of Equality Now’s worldwide action for the human rights of women. Information about specific abuses and ongoing violations is gathered from an international network of activists and organizations and by Equality Now’s research staff. Appropriate actions and strategies are established in collaboration with local women’s rights advocates and are rapidly publicized and implemented through the Network.

This Guide will give you ideas on how to publicize and protest human rights violations in your community and use the media to mobilize public pressure to stop violence and discrimination against women. Through the Equality Action Network, you can transform collective outrage into strategic action. Your help is critical. Write a letter. Send an email. Raise funds. Organize an event. Take action with Equality Now to stop human rights violations against women and girls around the world. 

  • Write a letter. Follow the recommendations at the end of each Action, which will tell you where to write and what you might say in your letter to the authorities who are listed. You might start your letter by reporting the facts you have learned and expressing your concern over the human rights violation that is taking place. Urge the authorities to take immediate action, and remind them of their responsibility to promote equality and to protect all of their citizens from violence. Remember to be courteous, but let them know the world is watching. Don’t forget to keep a copy of your letter--it’s useful both for follow-up and to publicize what you have done. You can also ask professional associations and other relevant organizations to write similar letters using their letterhead. 
  • Circulate a petition. Just like writing a letter with a few changes. Start with “We, the undersigned” and say what you would say in a letter, keeping the text short, simple and direct. Leave lines underneath for signers to put their name and address. Distribute the Action with the petition, so that signers have additional background information on the issue. Circulate the petition in your community or school, and on your email listserves. Once you have gathered many signatures, send the petition to the targeted authority, just as you would a letter. Don’t forget to keep a copy. 
  • Contact your government. Call or write to your elected representatives urging them to write a letter of concern to the relevant authorities listed on the Action. Ask them to raise the highlighted concern with their colleagues for appropriate action. You can also ask them to contact, and you can also directly contact, the State Department or Foreign Ministry, your Ambassador to the country concerned and their Ambassador in your country. Request their intervention. Please ask them to let you know what action they have taken. 
  • Inform the media. You can find relevant news articles on the human rights of women and write letters to the journalists who wrote them. You can also find journalists who cover the country involved and make sure they know about the issue and the Equality Action Network campaign. Write letters to the editor in response to articles, editorials or opinion pieces. If you are feeling ambitious, you can try to get your own opinion piece printed. The media has tremendous power to expose human rights violations against girls and women and to mobilize public pressure. 
  • Organize a public event. You can organize an event in your community and bring people together around these concerns. Your living room, campus, community center, place of worship, etc. are places where you could hold an event. Find an informative video or a speaker. Have copies of the Action(s) you want to highlight for distribution, together with sample letters and petitions that can be signed at the event. 
  • Raise funds. Fundraising is a great way to support the Equality Action Network, as well as raise awareness and bring in new members. Host a house party and show a video on human rights violations against women. Organize a bike-a-thon, walk-athon, or dance-a-thon, an auction, a garage sale, a concert, a bake sale, a tennis match, whatever you and your friends enjoy doing, and donate the funds raised to Equality Now. We rely on the generosity of people like you to support the costs of our research and advocacy efforts. 
  • Spread the word. Get your friends, neighbors, classmates and colleagues to join the Equality Action Network and help us continue to build a more powerful global network of women’s rights advocates. Write an article, a poem or a story for your school or community paper. Learn and talk about human rights violations against women and get these issues discussed in your schools and communities. Keep the focus on activism, not only the violence being done to girls and women, but what is being done to stop it. We can send you brochures and Actions for distribution in English, Arabic, French and Spanish. 
  • Support Equality Now. Equality Now cannot do its work without the participation and support of the individuals and groups who make up its Equality Action Network. Please join. 
  • And more. There are many more steps you can take - your creativity is the only limit to effective action. Remember that while one letter may not seem like much, taken all together these letters can have a powerful impact. The more people know about human rights violations against women and girls, the greater the chance they will take action. Please keep Equality Now posted on your activism.