These Amazing Examples Of Women Supporting Women In 2018 Are Just The Beginning
In the modern era, 2017 and 2018 have been particularly challenging years for women not just in the United States, but around the world. However, as women have encountered threats to their rights, they have also often come together more readily than ever to protect their freedoms and support each other. These amazing examples of women supporting women in 2018 are uplifting and prove that we can weather the storm — even if it doesn't end in 2018.
In the United States, recent advocacy for women's rights was brought to the forefront after the election of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly used misogynistic language in the past and has also been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women (Trump denies these allegations). The day after Trump was elected, women around the United States and the world marched in solidarity to let him know they're going to put up a fight. And that perseverance hasn't gone away. A similar Women's March happened the following year in 2018.
But the Women's March represents just one example of women banding together after Trump was elected and became president. There are plenty of other instance of inspiring camaraderie that definitely deserve your attention.
Olympic Gymnasts Supporting Each Other
Throughout the trial of Larry Nassar, who was convicted of sexual abuse, gymnasts who had survived Nassar's abuse over the years offered words of encouragement and support to each other. For example, after gymnast Mattie Larson revealed during her victim impact statement that she once intentionally hurt herself to avoid Nassar's abuse, gymnast Aly Raisman reached out on Twitter to offer words of support to Larson.
Mattie, please don't ever forget that when I was young you were my favorite gymnast on the floor. You inspired me and you still do to this day. And I know SO many others are inspired by your iconic floor routines and your bravery speaking out. You are a true role model and that is far more valuable than any medal you could ever win. I am so proud of you and stand behind you.
The #MeToo Movement
For many, the #MeToo movement epitomizes the concept of women supporting other women. While the movement began in 2017, it is certainly still making a very strong impression in 2018. #MeToo has given many women the courage to speak out about having been harassed or sexually assaulted. It has given thousands of women around the world a voice through offering them collective support and camaraderie.
Protesting Compulsory Hijab
Back in December, a woman named Vida Movahed removed her hijab while standing on a street in Iran. She then held it and waved it as a symbol of protest against Iran's compulsory hijab law. Movahed was subsequently arrested.
Since then, women (and men) around Iran have rallied together to advocate for a woman's right to choose whether or not to wear a hijab. Indeed, a photo of a woman dressed in full chador standing up on a box waving a hijab particularly resonated with many, as, according to Saeed Kamali Dehghan of The Guardian, it shows her standing "in solidarity with women who - unlike her - don’t want to wear it."
Looking Out For Each Other
In January, a woman named Amna Saleem tweeted about an experience she had in a London bar, in which she was repeatedly receiving unwanted attention from a man, despite her attempts to rebuff him. Saleem then reported that, suddenly, a woman who she did not know approached her and pretended to be her friend, causing the man to leave. Many shared and responded to Saleem's tweet — and also offered their own stories of women who are strangers taking the initiative to help each other out in order to evade harassment.
Helping End FGM
Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that a woman named Nice Leng’ete had helped over 15,000 Kenyan girls avoid female genital mutation. After managing to escape the procedure herself, Leng'ete worked tirelessly to change the perception of female genital mutation in Kenya's Masai community, where the practice was still continuing despite Kenya banning it in 2011. Eventually, Leng'ete's advocacy work was in part responsible for the Masai deciding to change their traditional oral constitution to ban female genital mutation.
In addition to helping stop the practice, Leng'ete also helped develop alternative ceremonies that celebrate girls' transitions to adulthood — ceremonies which include dancing, singing, and celebration, but not cutting.
Volunteering As Abortion Escorts
A HuffPost article revealed how women (and men) are crucial to helping women secure abortions through volunteering as clinic and transport escorts. While volunteers have long been essential to helping women access abortions, their role in 2018 is particularly important as women's access to an abortion is increasingly threatened in the United States.
For example, the HuffPost article detailed the story of a woman volunteer who drove another woman 12 hours (each way) to secure an abortion after her local clinic could not treat her. The article also described the crucial role volunteers play in protecting women from protestors outside of abortion clinics, who often seek to intimidate women into changing their minds about having the procedure.
Fighting Harassment At Carnival
In Brazil during Carnival, many women came together to protest against and combat street harassment — a common problem during the festivities. A group of women started a "no means no" campaign to emphasize the message of consent. To spread the message, the women distributed thousands of free temporary tattoos to Carnival attendees with the phrase "no means no."
Women also gathered together to hold anti-harassment block parties which, according to the Associated Press, featured, "all-female musicians, shirts, necklaces and crowns with messages like 'my breasts, my rules' and several campaigns to report and crack down on harassment."
Running For Office
ABC reported in January that, through the wave of women's activism in 2017 and 2018, women are inspiring each other to run for office — and that this spirit is contagious. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, via ABC, "389 women are running for the U.S. House of Representatives, 49 women are running for U.S. Senate and 79 women are running for governor in 2018" — an absolutely unprecedented number.
Mikie Sherrill, who is running for New Jersey's 11th Congressional district seat, spoke with ABC about the importance of women to women support in political campaigns, saying "Right now we are taking on a fight for the very soul of this country ...We’re taking on a fight to protect our values, to protect what we think America stands for and we can do this together."
Helping Women Of Color Through Pregnancy
In February, the New York Times shared the story of Jennie Joseph, a woman who founded Birth Place — a prenatal and postpartum clinic in Florida that takes a unique, comprehensive approach to ensure that all women, regardless of ability to pay, receive high quality care throughout and after their pregnancies.
According to the Times, the majority of Joseph's clients are low-income women of color, who are typically more susceptible to having complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Impressively, Jospeh's comprehensive, patient-centered approach has resulted in almost all of her patients delivering healthy, full-term babies.
Training Women To Be Media Leaders
In Mexico, a journalist named Mariana Santos founded a group called Chicas Poderosas (Powerful Girls) after realizing that, while the number of women journalists are on the rise, there are very few women represented in top leadership positions in newsrooms.
Thus, Chicas Poderosas trains women across Latin America in "interactive storytelling, investigative reporting and leadership skills," with the goal of helping them form their own independent media companies. Santos does much of the training herself, regularly traveling around the region.
A Circle Of Women
While perhaps more commonplace, this "everyday" example of women helping women also speaks volumes about the power of the female sisterhood. The Good News Network reported that, earlier in February, a young pregnant woman traveling with a toddler broke down in the boarding area of Los Angeles International Airport after her toddler had a tantrum that she could not de-escalate.
A woman in the boarding area reported on Facebook, that, suddenly, six or seven women at the gate formed a circle around the woman and her child, each acting to provide a small source of comfort. One woman gave the mother water, another sang to the child, and another offered him a toy. The toddler and the mother both eventually calmed down and were able to board the plane.
Beth Bornstein Dunnington, the Facebook user who initially shared the story, reported that she was profoundly moved by the event, saying, “It occurred to me that a circle of women, with a mission, can save the world. I will never forget that moment."
Overall, these represent just a few of many examples of women coming together in 2018 to support each other and stand together for women's rights. It is certainly inspiring to know that so many women are perpetually working together to help make the world a better place for each other.