6 Takes on Equality for Women & Men

Add to favorites

Women and men everywhere are looking beyond gender stereotypes to create a new society and culture of equality. Here are highlights from Women & Power: Women/Men keynote speakers on what it means to be a man and woman today. 

Till the Ground for Healing

Elizabeth Lesser opened the Women & Power Conference and spoke to us about myths and stereotypes about women and men that hurt everybody—women, men, families, and society. Today, men are joining women in a global movement to give birth to a different and more equal world.

"The two largest groups of 'other' on the planet are women and men," said Elizabeth. “If we, together, can make inroads into opening our hearts and minds to our shared humanity, we are tilling the ground for healing all sorts of divisions in our hurting world.”

Gain Gender Intelligence

Barbara Annis talked about what science is teaching us and noted that this is not about women changing to be more like men, or men changing to be more like women. "This is about changing how we work together," said Barbara.

We don't need to function identically, to be equal statistically, she explained, but we do need to be equal in value. While it's true that scientific evidence of functional differences in the physicality of male and female brains is emerging at record speed, Barbara noted that this isn't just about bloodflow and oxytocin. In fact, it’s about building on the strengths of both to create the society that we are hoping our children will live in.

Help Make Structural Change

Leaning in is not enough, Sarah Jane Glynn reminded us. While personal empowerment and self-advocacy are important, there are underlying structural issues that need to be addressed. “Culturally, we have decided what kind of work we value and what kind of work we don’t,” said Sarah.

She highlighted how this plays out with the gender wage gap, as well as in the absence of workplace policies, such as paid parental leave, guaranteed sick days, flex time, and affordable child care, leaving women at a consistent disadvantage. But there are examples of positive change, and Sarah encouraged the audience to participate in the political process: “Make your voices heard because you really can make a difference.” 

Be Honest & Vulnerable

Carlos Andrés Gómez talked about walking into a room filled with young men full of bravado and machismo: "You have to go all the way,” he said. “You can only expect the person across from you to be as courageous as you are. You have to be more raw, more honest, and more vulnerable.” In telling his story at the conference, Carlos gave men, and all of us, permission to “drop the performance” and be more fully ourselves. 

Read Carlos' poems

Redefine Masculinity

In his work with A Call to Men, Tony Porter educates boys and men to shift social and cultural norms that define manhood. He talked about how the culture of masculinity—what he calls the “man box”— traps men and boys and cuts them off from the experience of women. He told us that there’s a healthier and more respectful definition of manhood arising—one that calls on men to join women in creating a world where women and girls are valued and safe. His message to everyone was this: “My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.”

Find A Way

"I wake up every day, not a woman, not an atheist, not a democrat, not a child of sexual abuse, not a lesbian,” Diana Nyad declared. “I am all those things in part. But I am defiant in not letting myself be defined or limited as only one of those things….Really, I’m a person who just won’t give up. I’m a citizen of the world, like you." 

With the ocean as her greatest teacher, Diana dove into a life aimed at never giving up. Again and again, stroke after stroke, she threw herself into the water, leaving behind her gender, her age, and her fears, until all that was left was the water, the stars overhead, and her mantra—"find a way."