Side Event: UN CSW61 New York – Manhattan 15th March 2017
“Tackling misogyny and adverse norms for women's economic empowerment!”
Before I started my studies in university, I did a three-year training leadership program in Europe, called STF-Europe. During that time I was selected to become a team leader and even a group leader. This helped me to have many experiences with young people, teenagers and especially young girls.
Through these experiences, I realized young people need role models in order to be empowered. Role models who will help them to grow and who gives them the guidance they need. Like their own parents, a mentor, a teacher, a leader or even a star, someone they admire. Those people will shape their opinion and the character of the person who is growing, because these role models have a huge effect on them, unconsciously or consciously. Role models are like indirect educators, therefore they have a crucial responsibility towards society and the nation.
When do girls feel the most empowered? When they feel cared for and loved, especially when they think they did not deserve it. Also when they did a mistake but their role model doesn't judge them for that. When they are encouraged and believed in, especially before they give up. And when they are appreciated because of their effort and work, when no one else recognized it.
The result of the investment the role models makes is that the girls start to believe in themselves and trust that they will achieve whatever they pursue. The result is confidence and belief in one's own success. This energy and strength brings young people further in life and will bring about success in any field of work. Positivity about oneself is the key to empowerment and through that we can become a self-moving engine.
When individuals start to have faith and trust in themselves, that is when change happens.
The girls with whom I was working together felt they could overcome the feeling of inequality, low self-esteem and unappreciation easier than before. The same was true for me; I got a lot supported from my own parents and mentors at WFWP-Europe.
By receiving education, responsibility, and freedom, the young person has the best environment to grow and become mature. For example, when I want to drive a car I am responsible for following certain rules but I have the freedom to follow them or not. But through the right guidance, studies, or education I know what to do and how to behave on the street. Love, communication, education, responsibility, and freedom are the most important for a young person to be empowered.
I want to give a different viewpoint on the topic misogyny. What is the cause of misogyny. What is going on in the head of men who suffer under the hate towards women? Berit Oskar Brogaard a Danish-American doctor of philosophy writes:
“In most cases misogynists do not even know that they hate women. Misogyny is typically an unconscious hatred that men form early in life, often as a result of a trauma involving a female figure they trusted. An abusive or negligent mother, sister, teacher or girlfriend can plant a seed deep down in their brain’s subcortical matter.”
This description explains that we women have a responsibility too, because misogynists were not born as misogynists.
Now we are facing two different situations:
First of all, being a victim.
As victims we suffer and need encouragement from other people in order to regain self-esteem. It is also important to share about the traumatic experience; the most effective healing is when victims become active, not staying a passive victim and suffer in silence. Victims improve most quickly by becoming active by using this devastating experience in order to help other people, knowing that they can understand and feel other people's pain. But the attitude in order to do that work needs to be forgiveness. Forgiving men for their abuses and mistreatment of women and remembering it is not only their fault but also our responsibility as women. It is a collective problem and we all stand in the same boat.
The other perspective is we are in the position of being healers too.
When someone does something bad to us, we tend to hit back right away or to defeat that person soon or later. But how would it be to change that kind of approach and to think, "What is the real role of a woman?" We should reflect about the true nature of women--being gentle, caring, and loving.
How do we want to stop misogyny?
One answer which came to my mind is by changing our behavior towards men. And it starts in the family. For example, a mother being loving and caring to the baby and child, a sister being supportive, and a wife being truthful and faithful. We forget the importance of having a loving family. For sure men have their responsibility too, to realize that they need to do something against their arrogance and hate but we as women play a crucial role in order to help them overcome and to make a change. As I already mentioned, it is a collective problem and we all need to work to fix it. There have to be women who fulfill the true nature of a woman. Someone who sacrifices and pioneer this new way. Someone who approaches this topic and issue differently.
On my flight to New York from Munich, I realized something through the new Disney movie “Moana." Towards the end, Moana tried to fight through the barrier of the lava monster in order to bring back the stolen heart of the goddess. But when she overcame the wall of the monster, which brought fear and destruction and suffering, she couldn’t find the goddess of the islands anymore. Suddenly Moana realized that the goddess had become the monster after her heart was stolen. When Moana finally returned the monster's her heart, it calmed down and it became its original self, the goddess of the islands, and brought back peace to the people.
I realized we need to “mend the monster with love."
Misogynists are like monsters when they behave like that towards women. But that tells us that we can help men by loving, caring for, and understanding them and it definitely starts in the family, with the children. There have to be women who sacrifice and pioneer this way. Women’s Federation for World Peace International is promoting this way of living and thinking in order to bring sustainable peace.
For sure it is a longer process to heal the deep wound of men, but when the wound is finally closed it is sustainable and won’t open again. Accusation is a kind of provocation and will lead to deeper hate, therefore that is no solution of the problem. If we would continue like we did before we will never break out of this vicious cycle. We need to learn to forgive and we need to understand that we can heal men, by first of all understanding our true role as women.
Therefore I want to encourage you women all around the world, to take a chance and make a change.