Unless You’re Doing These Things, You’re Probably Not Marching for Women’s Rights

Sisters, yesterday you gathered to march for women’s rights and today I want to encourage you to keep marching.

I beg you to march away from department stores, to march away from that cheap new pair of jeans or sweater. I ask that you would consider the women who made it:
Women in places like Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and even in L.A
Women who get paid a couple of cents to labor for 16 hour days to make that clothing
Women who are regularly mistreated, abused, and sexually assaulted
Women who are fired if they become pregnant
Women who risk their lives to make your clothing
And despite all of this,
Women who still get up and go into those dangerous factories every day in order to try and provide for themselves and their families.

The clothes you wore yesterday as you marched for women’s rights most likely cost a woman her life, her health, her emotional well being, or her safety.

March away from cheap, sweatshop clothing and march towards companies who prioritize their workers over their profits:
ethical companies
good companies
companies who value people more than products
companies who advocate for better laws and humane standards and fair wages.

I plead that you march away from nail salons, that you think about the women who paint your nails:
Women who are negatively affected by the chemicals and fumes
Women who have miscarriages, cancer, skin ailments and never-ending coughs
Women whose children are born with disabilities and diseases

The same products that are beautifying you are what’s slowly killing her.

March away from carcinogenic, harmful nail salons and march towards eco-friendly ones:
salons that are properly ventilated
salons that use safer paints and removers
salons that require their workers to wear gloves to protect them from skin diseases

As you talk seriously with your boyfriend about marriage or daydream about your someday wedding, I ask that you march away from diamonds sourced in horrific conditions:
By tiny little fingers that have no business working in such harsh, de-humanizing conditions at such a young age ever
By women who have been brutally and systematically raped
And killed
As they source that diamond for your “pretty” engagement ring.

March away from blood-stained, conflict diamonds, from those misleadingly “certified” by the Kimberly Process, and march toward lab manufactured or ethical diamonds.

I urge you to march away from the ignorance and apathy regarding horrific practices such as female genital mutilation:
A procedure that has no health benefits for girls or women
A procedure that causes severe bleeding,
Risks and complications at childbirth,
Emotional and physical scarring,
Pain urinating,
And infections
A procedure that affects over 200 million women and girls in over 30 countries,
But one that is hardly ever talked about here.

March away from the ignorance and apathy and march towards education– for yourselves and those who still practice it. March towards awareness, advocacy and international action to end this harmful practice.

Until you do,

your words are empty

your talk is cheap

and your fight is not really for women’s rights,

but for the rights of a small handful of select, privileged, western women.