#OwnYourVoice: Coming Together and Standing Up For Gender Equality

On March 8, International Women’s Day was trending across social media worldwide. With it came an empowering, thought-provoking video launching a new campaign through the United Nations. The UN is teaming up with Youtube, allowing seven female representatives to act as Global Change Ambassadors in the battle to end gender inequality. Yes, you read that right. YouTube and the United Nations are teaming up to tackle global gender inequality.

Let’s go back a bit to explain where this is coming from. On September 25, 2015, the United Nations announced their seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals were created to encourage countries as a whole and individuals alike to take them up to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all” (UN Web Services Section). They took to social media, challenging individuals across the globe to share their favorite goal (the one which they are the most passionate) on social media and challenge others to work towards achieving them in their daily lives so together, we can change our world. Their hope is that, by working together, we can conquer these major problems on our planet by 2030.

When the Sustainable Development Goals were posted last year, multiple YouTubers made videos about which goal they found the most important, and taking to further social media to start conversation across multiple platforms. As often happens with news and trends in the age of social media, the original fire of commentary and responses slowly decreased as time passed and new stories replaced the excitement around the SDGs. Campaigns on social media and collaborations with big names help bring the goals front and center again, including through smaller fights to tackle the issues under the generalized umbrella topics they outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals. This collaboration between YouTube and the UN is important for so many reasons.

It acknowledges the changing dynamic of a globalized world, putting in the hands of all to support each other. We all may be from different places, but to make greater change, we have to work for and with one another to make something happen, to make our voices heard.

In this, the UN also acknowledges how much social media can affect global movements. Whether you are for or against the increase and influence of social media on our world, if we take advantage of its presence we can use social media to start real and important conversations about our world. YouTube is certainly one platform where this has been the case in the past, where conversations about YouTube Culture and sexual assault within the community were faced with open criticism. YouTubers and their viewers alike have related how unique a community is found on YouTube, and now the United Nations is listening.

Finally, this collaboration shows that the United Nations is treating people equally in their ability to affect change. From what I’ve noticed here in the US, there is often conversation about how the youth of the country are less likely to vote and/or engage with public office and have less of a voice in government. Perhaps there is some truth there, but to me, it is also true that young people are often the most vocal about issues that affect their lives. Social media is our platform to share our voices, and we can use it how we want, from Tweeting funny quotes from professors or Instagramming our meals to highlighting gender inequality and capturing political movements as they happen. We want to see change and we want to be a part of bringing it there. That’s where a campaign like #OwnYourVoice comes in.

Not only does it put responsibility on us to pursue action to make the changes we hope for occur, but it also encourages all individuals to work together towards a better world. As much as I have always hated group projects in school, I understand that greater change can only be achieved when we cooperate with one another. One voice can seem small, but among a chorus, its presence makes all the difference.

I have watched this video so many times by now, and every time, it ends with me feeling empowered and full of hope. For an optimist such as myself in a world that can often be bitter, discontented and cynical, inspiring hope and positivity are some of the most important feelings to encourage. I see some flaws in it, as there is bound to be. It is created by humans. Humans are inherently flawed. Thus, what we create is likely to be partially flawed in our attempts for perfection. For example, it seems odd that a movement to end gender inequality would only have women on its panel of representatives as opposed to trying to include individuals from across the gender spectrum. I do appreciate how well they represented the world in their choice of individuals, and I am curious as to why there are two Americans, but they chose who they did. I think the message and the campaign’s ideas are incredible. It is a great start to something I am looking forward to following over the next year. They named these seven women Change Ambassadors. Let’s see what that means, and where each woman will take this movement.

You can watch the video here!


Resource: UN

Image Credit: YouTube Spotlight on YouTube