With International Women’s Day 2021 quickly approaching (March 8th), Women for Women International have launched a new global campaign: #PowerToChange. It’s a campaign that celebrates the ‘subversive power of women as a force for positive change’.

It is not news to us that when resources become strained and institutional capacity is limited, women are harder hit by the impacts: we suffer the disproportionate ramifications of a crisis. The consequences are far-reaching, the effects of it felt even more strongly in such fragile and already adverse contexts. This pandemic is no different. Not only is society’s reliance on women on the frontlines in health systems and at home being underscored, female education, employment, health and safety are also in danger. This campaign, therefore, comes at a crucial time; as the pandemic continues to disrupt societies and economies around the world, hard-fought women’s rights achievements are being threatened and undermined.

Women for Women International are responding to this crisis this International Women’s Day 2021 (IWD21) by celebrating women’s rights activists’ accomplishments, as well as highlighting the injustices faced by women around the world; some of the most vulnerable women in war and conflict areas are, even now, harnessing their collective voice to transform their communities. 

Now is, as ever, the time to rise up. Use your voice to turn anger into power by taking action: sign the #PowerToChange commitment by March 8th. 

The details of the pledge is as follows:

I will use my power to…

1.       Share my story. When I speak out against the injustice I’ve faced, I create space for other women to find power in numbers and to do the same.  

2.       Educate myself. I will seek out women’s voices around the world and listen to them to learn how they face sexism and use their power – and to understand how I can use mine to support other women.  

3.       Connect with my community — even from afar. By connecting with people who use their power to support women, I can gain insight on how I can connect with and help women all over the world as part of a global community. Attending events (even virtually) and having conversations within digital communities is a step towards joining a global support network. 

4.       Support women. Besides sharing my power to grow our collective ability to create change, I can contribute to organisations that support women’s power to rebuild our lives and our world.  

I commit to harness my #PowerToChange the world — to make it more equal, peaceful, and prosperous for women everywhere. 

Stand in solidarity with Women for Women International and its many ambassadors, such as Alyssa Milano, Basma Khalifa, Elizabeth Debicki, Gillian Anderson, Philomena Kwao, Sophie Turner and Zara Martin. Sign now.

Some inspirational comments, courtesy of inspirational women: 

“It wasn’t easy growing up, as boys are much more valued than girls, so when my parents’ first four children were girls, they were not happy about it. I was actually given a derogatory name in my native language, which means ‘What can a woman do?’ I did well at secondary school and I decided that I wanted to read law at university. My father didn’t want to pay for my studies, because a girl’s education is seen as a waste of money. I became determined to champion the rights of women and girls in Nigeria.” Zainab Gbobaniyi, Advocacy Co-ordinator, Women for Women International – Nigeria 

“When I was a young girl, I learned that I have the power to make change. In secondary school, my classmate would come to class every morning and cry. She endured sexual abuse in her own home.

What my friend experienced was not right. But she was still too afraid to approach the head of our school to talk about her situation. This became my first taste of advocacy. I spoke with the head of our school to relay my friend’s situation to create a connection between women, so that the head of our school could support my friend.”  Audry Shematsi, Country Director, Women for Women International – Democratic Republic of the Congo

“I am signing Women for Women International’s #PowerToChange commitment because I am inspired by women all over the world turning their, pain, anger, and daily experiences of injustice into a driving force for positive change. On travelling to Rwanda, I met incredible women like Fatuma, who had the inner power and strength to rebuild her life in the devastating aftermath of genocide, and Grace, who seized her power after the death of her husband and is ensuring her five children have the opportunities of education that she was denied. I’m pledging to harness my own #PowerToChange. I commit to listening and amplifying other women’s voices; to sharing my own power; and to taking action to create a more equal, peaceful world. We all have the power to make a difference – please join me this International Women’s Day and make a commitment to use your #PowerToChange.” Sophie Turner, Women for Women International Ambassador

“One of the most powerful tools you have to power change in world is your voice. When we seize our power, reclaim our rights, speak out for those who are forgotten, and commit to the global fight for gender equality, we become an unstoppable force. We become activists, allies, leaders of nations; we initiate conversations around peace and progress; we inspire local and then global transformation. Commit, join the movement, and power the change we all want to see. Together, we will harness the power of women, for women.” Brita Fernandez Schmidt, Executive Director, Women for Women International – UK

“Women are light. Society has ignored our needs and our right to make the choices that would directly improve our quality of life for too long. The time to hold each other up so we can speak our truths is now. And we need each other to do this. Finally speaking aloud what you need, can make you feel hugely vulnerable, but hearing it echoed in the voices of all the women around you, will only make you stronger. The power of your community, that will instantly appear before you like magic when you use your voice, is the thing that will keep us nourished and keep us fighting for change.” Elizabeth Debicki, Women for Women International Ambassador

For more information about Women for Women International, visit their website here.  Learn more about the impacts of COVID-19 on women and visit UN Women’s dedicated webpage for news and resources.

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Crystel is currently a first year English student at University College London. She hopes to one day pursue journalism further.

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