At this year’s 10th annual Women in the World Summit, founder & CEO Tina Brown posed this question: Can women save the world? I assumed this question was just a marketing ploy. Of course women aren’t the only people in charge of saving the world?
Just as a little background, the Women in the World Summit is a “convening of mighty women leaders, blazing activists + courageous movers + shakers.” With a bill of speakers ranging from activists to politicians, it celebrates the actions women take daily to build the kind of world they want to live in. This year, it took place in Lincoln Center from April 10-12.
After having the amazing opportunity to attend this year’s summit, however, my mindset has changed a little bit. Women might not be the only people in charge of changing the world. But we might be the ones that are capable of getting it done.
I left the Summit feeling so inspired and motivated! While I might be “just” a college student from New Jersey, I realized there are tons of things I can do to help the causes I believe in. I put together a list of things I (+ you!) can do to help in this quest to change the world.
1. Stay informed
I talk about living in a college bubble all the time, and listening to the speakers at WITW reinforced that idea so heavily. Although it was amazing to hear from Maria Ressa and her journey as a journalist & CEO of Rappler, a Filipino social news network in such a divisive time in the Philippines, it made me realize how little I knew about the world around me.
If we as citizens want to be part of any sort of social change, we need to stay up to date. Pay attention to the media you consume, and expand beyond American current affairs. There is so much happening in the world – both just and unjust – and relying on Twitter news just isn’t going to cut it. You might not feel like there’s enough time to get through it all, but it’s worth a shot. I know I’m going to be paying closer attention to world news – you should too!
2. Stand up for what you believe in
If there’s anything I learned from hearing the numerous activists speak, it’s that I shouldn’t be afraid of standing up for what I believe in. I think it’s easy to feel like we shouldn’t be “too political” in our conversations with other people, but there’s never been a more important time to do so. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying to get in arguments with other people all the time.
I definitely believed that there was no other way I could ever make a difference with my level of influence on the world, but I’m slowly learning that’s not true. There are so many ways we can stand up for what we believe in – from “voting with our dollar” and donating to organizations that support causes that are important to us, to volunteering at women’s shelters or similar places. Even simply voicing support on social media is more important than you’d think!
If there’s anything I’m thankful for in America, it’s the choice we have to speak out on social media without consequence, unlike many people just like us in other countries. Activists like Masih Alinejad from Iran or Loujain Al-Hathloul face persecution and jail time for standing up for their beliefs, and yet they continue to speak out. Stand up for the causes you believe in, because what’s stopping you?
Speak up and fight for my sister, for all the Saudi activists who have been unjustly imprisoned and brutally tortured. Share their stories…our silence will not keep them safe.– Lina Al-Hathloul’s call-to-action on behalf of her sister, Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain Al-Hathloul
3. Build up the women around you
Support! Other! Women! I truly can’t stress this enough. It’s very easy to pit yourself against other women, especially in male-dominated fields, but I’m learning that that mindset does more harm than good. If anything, another woman’s success can help you later down the line. Think about all that you can do right now as a woman – so much of your day to day life is due in part to another woman’s success, whether it was big or small, before you.
The reason why I was able to get…the payment that I got for the movie, a lot of it had to do with the women that came before me.– Brie Larson on pay equity for Captain Marvel
This might be the simplest thing to do out of everything on this list – just support your female friends! If they’re running a side hustle, share it on your Instagram. If they’re setting a new goal, support them on their journey instead of getting in their way. Praise other women’s successes instead of seeing it as an attack on your own work ethic. Not only will this strengthen the relationships in your life, but it will also reinforce the idea that us women have gotta stick together. :’)
4. Engage in a little self-reflection
Finally, take a little bit of time to reflect on yourself. Oprah said something during her keynote speech that stuck with me: “First save yourself. Then your family, then your community, then the rest of the world.” In addition to supporting other women and social causes you believe in, support yourself! If I learned anything at the Women in the World Summit, it’s that if you believe in yourself and work hard to accomplish your goals, more doors will open for you to raise others up.
Of course it’s easy to get sucked into a black hole of self-loathing when you’re reflecting, but those three days helped me engage in the good kind, the motivating kind. The summit inspired me to focus on the things that matter to me – reading more, being more present, sharpening my skills as an engineer, and using my platform to help others instead of dragging them down. There’s no right moment to devote my time to these things – it’s a process that I have control over. If I want to be more educated and make changes, I realized that I need to start with myself, and I encourage you all to look in the mirror and strive towards what matters to you.
Don’t wait for anyone else to tell you that you can have what you were destined to be great at.– Ibtihaj Muhammad
All in all, I couldn’t be more thankful to HerCampus and the InfluenceHer Collective for the opportunity to attend this extraordinary event. I’ve never been so proud to be a woman, and I’ve never been more inspired to go be an active participant in the world around me.
And to the question, “Can women save the world?” again, as per usual, Oprah said it best:
Can women save the world? We already are. We’re bad asses. And above all, we show up.– Oprah Winfrey