Years ago when I would read news about world events, I was often faced with a dilemma: I am concerned, but feel helpless to do anything. If I am a youth, a student, a concerned citizen of the world – what can I do to help those around the globe facing insecurity and conflict?
A few weeks ago, I was honoured to be the guest speaker at Concordia University’s Holler Day. Organized by Journalists for Human Rights, it was a 16 hour standing marathon in support of survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That very question was posed to me:
What can we do as young people to support the Congolese population and specifically the women, taking into account the logistical limitations of not being on-the-ground in Africa?
The answer I gave at the time to students was to continue exactly what they were doing, full force. Hold educational activities to raise awareness among peers and take them online, extending their impact beyond the four walls of the school.
I have been thinking about this question a lot and the role that youth can play in major campaigns tackling violence against women.
Public education is key in raising political will for effective action on gender-based violence. The longer I work in communications, the more importance I realize needs to be placed in using online tools for fostering dialogue among already-present and yet-untapped networks. And the untapped resource of youth in fostering and promoting active discussion has still to be fully realized.
Why youth? Well, young students have energy and are creative! They are already engaged online and are concerned about issues that affect the world around them and what world they will live in for years to come.
So, unsure of what you can do? Join the conversation online.
And what better time to start than today! Friday, Nov. 25 is the International Day Against Violence Against Women and marks the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.
Sitting at home in bed, at a coffee-shop, in the library? Perfect. Add your voice to those who are using social media to raise awareness about #16days and #vaw . Check out the Center for Women’s Global Leadership for more events going on around the world.
But want to know more about what needs to be done to end violence against women at the policy level? UN Women has come up with a comprehensive policy agenda – 16 steps that world leaders need to take.
There is no excuse to sit idly by, throwing your hands in the air and saying you just don’t know what to do. All it takes today is a tweet or a simple post. It doesn’t have to end there – you can engage you friends face-to-face (gasp) or plan a film night, donate your time – but talking about these issues whether online or not, is the very first step anyone can take.