#ChooseToChallenge Gender Inequity with Womxn Breaking Barriers
Guest blog post written by Sunnie Malik. Sunnie has been an Emerging Leaders 365 donor and YP Impact member for several years and is an accounting associate at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children).
Over 10 billion emojis are sent every day, and I’ve never questioned why there wasn’t one of a man holding a baby, a Black woman with an afro, etc. This was just one of the interesting topics discussed at the “Womxn Breaking Barriers” event hosted earlier this month by United Way of King County, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center and YP Impact.
The panelists included Blessing Omakwu, deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and founder of The She Tank, Leslie Feinzaig, CEO and founder of Female Founders Alliance, Tracy Rector, managing director of storytelling at Nia Tero Foundation, and was moderated by Mika Yamamoto, executive vice president and the chief marketing and customer experience officer at F5. With so much excitement about hearing from influential women who choose to challenge gender bias, stereotypes and discrimination in our community every day, there were more than 1,000 registrants for the event!
The event kicked off with an inspiring poem by young poet Mari J from Powerful Voices and then moved to the panel discussion, which addressed issues women have been facing for decades, but which have become more pronounced today and highlighted due to COVID-19. People are starting to consciously understand how unequal the world is for many different groups, including women of color.
Some of the most appalling revelations brought up during the panel was how often, in uncertain economic times, women are the first to be let go. One hundred percent of the approximately 140,000 jobs that were lost in December 2019 during COVID were held by women. Or the fact that 88% of the film industry is comprised of white men and has only increased marginally from the previous year, which was at 85%.
So now that we know all this, what is the next step? How do we come together and disrupt these statistics so that women and BIPOC members can have a seat at the table?
Well, we need to collaborate and build our own table by asking for what we deserve. Typically, drastic change happens when we all uplift and support each other. This means showing up in our power, being confident and continuing to defy gender roles. Many times, power is equated to white men, and we need to redefine that. We can also learn by listening to the younger generation because they can only build upon what we have left behind.
So, whether you are triggered by microaggressions in common place things like emojis depicting women as sole caregivers of children or inspired by stories of women power and resilience, there’s a lot each of us can do to #ChooseToChallenge the status quo.