Reprinted with permission from the American Association of University Women
Almost as quickly as it arrived, 2015 has flown by. As we shift our thinking from holiday shopping lists to New Year’s resolutions, we’re finding lots of ways to empower women and girls in 2016. If you’re still brainstorming ideas, here are seven feminist-minded resolutions for the coming year.
1. Be confident, not sorry.
We still live in a world where women are paid less, underrepresented in high-paying fields and openly harassed, so it is no wonder they feel they have to apologize for every little thing. Instead of succumbing to the stereotypes that women are submissive and weak, resolve this year to fight back. In your next class or meeting, think twice before you start a sentence with “sorry.” The world won’t stop turning when women assert themselves and refuse to be overly apologetic, #sorrynotsorry.
2. Register to vote.
Regardless of your political affiliation, 2016 is an especially important year for voting. Whether a woman will be on the presidential ticket is to be determined, but it is likely that women’s issues such as reproductive rights, paid family leave and equal pay will be among the hot topics in local and national election contests. For 2016, resolve to make women’s voices heard by registering to vote and turning out to the polls.
3. Negotiate your salary.
Women working full time in the United States typically are paid just 79 percent of what white men are paid, a gap of 21 percent—and it’s even worse for women of color. Women who negotiate can earn higher salaries and better benefits, and these advantages add up over time, helping to close the wage gap. Negotiation ensures that women put a fair price on the quality of their work and sets a benchmark for future salary increases. Whether you’re entering the job market for the first time or are already a working professional, AAUW can help make 2016 the year you negotiate for an equitable salary.
4. Love your body.
Research has proven the damaging consequences of stereotypes, especially on self-esteem and confidence. But beauty takes countless forms, and it’s time to embrace all of them! Not only can 2016 be a year for celebrating body positivism, but it can also be a time to confront the hypersexualization of women in society, combat negative body comments, and discourage perfectionism.
5. Help young women find their voices.
While women have made great advances in leadership over the decades, women’s elevation to top positions is relatively rare. Research has found that college women often doubt their leadership potential, so it’s important to help empower these women early. By encouraging young women during and after college to seek out opportunities to practice their leadership skills, we can strengthen the leadership pipeline for women. Tell a woman in your life to consider taking on a leadership position, and connect with a new group of women in your area.
6. Be an ally.
In order to create real change, social justice movements need to involve people beyond the affected communities. These movements can succeed with supportive allies who advocate for equality. In 2016, resolve to be a good ally by doing your research, recognizing privilege and listening to others’ opinions.
7. Carry the mantle of feminism.
The “f-word” has become a hot topic. Some embrace the term, while others reject it. This year, rather than simply claiming or rebuffing feminist labels, encourage more intergenerational and intersectional collaborations around identity issues like sex, gender, race and class. Engage in conversations with women and girls of all ages and backgrounds to learn from each other, and talk about how to make the lives of future generations of girls easier. The next step? Resolve to get involved and take action.