When it comes to choosing New Year's resolutions, we usually default to the familiar. Every January tends to elicit the same old promises to start saving more money, sign up for a foreign language class, take up a new hobby, or learn to cook some recipes that don't include the words "microwave on high for 30 seconds." But while those are all worthy goals, 2017 is going to be a different kind of new year — specifically, a new year that will bring us a new presidential administration that seems interested in rolling back decades of progress for marginalized people. It's a year that is already making a lot of us feel helpless — so what can we do to fight back, feel empowered, and stand up for the values that we believe in?
This is where New Year's resolutions come in. Resolutions don't have to just be focused on personal self-improvement goals — you can also use the new year as a time to dedicate (or re-dedicate) yourself to standing up for your values and making the world a better place. That's why Bustle asked nine feminist organizations for some New Year's resolution ideas that can help make a difference in the year ahead — but which don't require changing careers, dedicating all your free time to volunteering, or completely changing your life (unless you want to!). Rather, the nine suggested resolutions below show how important small, dedicated change can be — especially in a moment like this, where we're facing down an uncertain future.
The nine resolutions below also show that being politically active and working for change doesn't have to be a solemn, exhausting enterprise. Rather, working for feminism and social justice can be enlivening, revitalizing, and just plain fun — like any good New Year's resolution.
Psst! Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017 starting Jan. 1. Right now, tweet @bustle about how you plan to make 2017 the best year yet. Use the hashtag #2017IRL, and your tweet could be featured on our app.
"Mentor the next generation of writers by sitting down with a young woman to listen. Everyone has a story to tell and one way to break the ice is to work as a pair. A popular exercise we do at Girls Write Now is to write a letter to your younger self. What would you tell her? Take turns reading your piece to each other, then ask each other: What details stood out to you? What do you want to hear more about? Who knows, this could be the start of your memoir. Everyone has a story to tell and the voices of our most vulnerable are often unheard, or worse, silenced. You can change that." — Maya Nussbaum, Girls Write Now Founder & Executive Director
“Sign up for and get active in a local, state or national feminist group. It’s time to commit your voice and passion to preventing the erosion of women’s rights in the face of a right-wing takeover of the Presidency, Congress and many state houses.” — Feminist Majority
“Arm yourself with evidence that support your arguments, be it on the impact and cost of unsafe abortion in the developing world or the benefits of publicly-funded family planning efforts domestically. Help advocates and be a better advocate by using data.” — Guttmacher Institute
“Running Start would love to see young women declare #ILookLikeAPolitician. In the United States, fewer than one in four political leaders are women. Young women don't have enough political role models and they see the political role models they do have face sexism. Running Start is asking young women to challenge the sexism in politics by posting #ILookLikeAPolitician.
“Resolve to contact one of your elected officials every month about protecting reproductive rights. We are facing potentially the greatest threat to our reproductive rights in our lifetime, from Congress, the Trump administration, and in many state legislatures. Find out who your elected officials are by using this site and choose one on whom you can focus.
You can email them, tweet them, or leave comments on their Facebook pages about how important it is that they support reproductive rights. You can event sign up for their email lists and gather a group of friends to attend a local event hosted by your elected official and let them know in person that you support reproductive rights. Take it a step further by signing up for a local pro-choice organization in your state – they will alert you when your state legislators need to hear from you on an important bill.” — Kelly Baden, Interim Senior Director, U.S. Policy and Advocacy, Center for Reproductive Rights
"Remember the forgotten face of homelessness: women and children. You’d never know it by looking at fear-mongering pictures of single men in tabloids and popular media, but women and families represent 70 percent of the homeless population in New York City. 20 percent of NYC’s homeless are under the age of five, and the number one driver of homelessness is domestic violence. Consider donating to organizations that provide services directly to this population and advocate for their needs. If we all understood who’s really affected by this crisis, we’d demand nothing less than comprehensive services to break the cycle of homelessness once and for all. Help others change their mindset in 2017." — Christine Quinn, President and CEO, Women In Need
”We resolve to resist. A little bit every day. We resolve to keep dreaming big. We resolve to be in radical collaboration with our local communities and draw strength from each other. We resolve to build compassion for people who have abortions, provide abortions, and fund abortions. We resolve to be proactive in keeping abortion possible.”- Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds
"Practice shine theory by asking a badass woman in your life to run for office or by donating to She Should Run in her name. Maybe that woman is you? Start your own journey with the She Should Run Incubator.
Call out sexism in politics. An attack on one woman is an attack against all women. Shine a light wherever it exists with #NameItChangeIt.“
"Be BOLD, and don't back down from fighting for what you believe in. That seems tough, given the uncertain and frankly scary future we are facing. But even up against difficult odds, resolve to show up on social media and in person for people of color, low-income women, young folks, and immigrants: those whose health and rights are most under threat.
Groups like All* Above All and our partner organizations will keep pushing forward even as we fight the bad stuff: we will work to end the Hyde Amendment, improve abortion access for all, and build a future where our families can thrive. This new year, resolve to join us, and to take action: not once, but as often as needed to protect ourselves and our communities and guard against injustice.” — Destiny Lopez, co-director, All* Above All
Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App starting on January 1 for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017.
Image: Hannah Burton/ Bustle