I am Generation Equality: Zaak Garrett, American gender equality and LGBTIQ activistBillions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.
Three actions you can take to be part of Generation Equality:
- Listen and believe women and girls when they talk about inequalities or violence that they have experienced.
- Start conversations with people around you that help them learn about gender equality issues and how they can be a part of the solution – not the problem.
- Support and advocate for the rights of women and girls at home, at work, and in your community.
I am Generation Equality because…
I am a feminist and I fundamentally believe that the world will be a better place when all genders are treated equally in all areas of life, law and liberty.
I began working on gender equality issues when I created the #policyplease campaign, which advocated for anti-sexual harassment policies on university campuses in Thailand. I was inspired to start this campaign when I attended UN Women’s HeForShe University Tour and student master classes. I also started a gender equality club on campus to raise awareness on issues related to gender equality and to provide internship and employment opportunities for club members after graduation through our combined professional networks. Finally, I co-founded @dreamtreethailand, a Bangkok-based social enterprise which focuses on fostering a colorful LGBTQI+ community with information sessions, events and activities geared towards our community.
I started these initiatives because I didn’t see anyone else doing them and I thought, “Why not me?”
I believe that the most urgent issues of our time are equal access to education and curricula that teach children about sexuality, gender and expression. Violence against women should be confronted and talked about in schools, along with equal pay and other gender equality issues. If the next generation could have an education which more fully highlights inequalities related to gender and encourages them to talk about these issues freely and build solutions, I believe the world would be a more equal place.
“Don’t worry if you feel qualified or not, move forward with what is in your heart and you will be surprised how far you can go.”
Don’t hesitate: Make yourself heard
The most common thing I hear from young people is that they don’t feel “qualified” to take the lead on gender equality initiatives. I say: Don’t worry if you feel qualified or not, move forward with what is in your heart and you will be surprised how far you can go. Young people have many great ideas that could make the world a more equal place; don’t let age stop you from getting out into your communities and making your voices heard, both offline and online.
When you see something or hear something that isn’t right, say something. This is something everyone can do and it has a tremendous impact. Let your friends, colleagues and family members know that it’s not acceptable to belittle, disrespect, or hurt any woman. Your voice can be your most effective weapon.
Men must fight for women
Men need to be a part of the solution. It is not enough for women to fight for equality alone. Men can be part of the solution by listening to women, educating themselves about gender equality issues, and using their platforms and voices to stand with women and promote equality.
Everyone should be a women’s rights activist because advocating for the rights and equal treatment of women is the right thing to do. Once we do the work of advocating for women’s rights and eqaulity, we will be rewarded with a world that is better to live in for us all.
Zaak Garrett, 26, founded the Gender Equality Club while studying at Stamford International University, in Bangkok. He now works for International Organization for Migration, part of the United Nations system, as a media and communications officer at its regional office in Bangkok. Check out Dream Tree, which he co-founded with Taylor Blake, at: Instagram, and Policy Please, co-founded with Miriam Chisanga and Anntonia Porsild, at: Instagram Facebook.