I come from long lines of strong women — women who have been unafraid to speak up and have been given many opportunities to do so. But without the support and encouragement of my Dad as well, I doubt I would have felt so empowered in my life. My Dad has been a self-declared feminist for as long as I can remember. What that meant to him was his vision for my future was as challenging, exciting and meaningful as the future he saw for my three brothers. He never set boundaries or limits on his expectations of my achievement. In fact in many ways, I feel like he expected more from me.
It’s Father’s Day this Sunday in the United States and we’re celebrating a new movement created by UN Women. He for She encourages men who speak up for women’s equality, adding their voices to women and men around the world who believe in equal education, empowerment and opportunity. My Dad has been one of those kind of men my whole life.
At last week’s SHE Summit, photographer, TV star, Girl Up advocate and Dad, Nigel Barker, mesmerized the audience with his passion and commitment to being one of those men too. He spoke about his own family life, and being raised by strong women. Tragically, his Dad struggled with personal issues and was violent to Barker’s mother. One of the most powerful moments Nigel shared was of his older brother intervening against their father to prevent him from harming their mother.
The world needs more men to stand up for the women in their lives. I hope that all of you have strong men on your team, whether fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, grandfathers and friends. Let’s celebrate them and all they do for girls and women this weekend. They need our encouragement, acknowledgement and support, as they try their best to do the right thing.
It’s not just He for She, but also She for He. We’re all in this together.
Take Action Challenge
Watch the discussion with Nigel Barker, Gary Barker and Simon Isaacs. Then check out He for She. Please let the men in your life know about He for She and invite them to follow UN Women on Twitter, like them on Facebook and tag their commitment #HeforShe on social media to stay connected to this incredible initiative. They’ll be manning up alongside men like Matt Damon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Antonio Banderas and Sir Patrick Stewart.
Photo Credits: Chrysula Winegar; Becky Yew for SHE Summit / 92nd Street Y