March On!

img_5675As published in LinkedIn Influencers on January 19th, 2017.

In the hours following November’s election, a Facebook event was created for a rally in Washington, DC. The date? January 21st. The day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. Within hours, similar event pages had been created and thousands had indicated that they would be going. By Day 1, many of these pages had been merged, and the Women’s March on Washington went from being an idea to reality. By Day 2, leaders from diverse backgrounds were brought in to ensure that as wide a range of voices as possible would be heard. Within a month, over 100 organizations had lent their support and resources to the organization of the event. And on January 12th, organizers released their official policy program, which outlined an aggressively progressive proposal that was lauded for its unapologetic stance on many of this nation’s most pressing and crucial political and social issues. It is estimated that up to 250,000 people will attend the march in Washington, with sister marches planned in all 50 states. Potentially millions more will march in over 150 cities in 60 countries across all six continents worldwide. It will be the largest demonstration on the first day of a new administration in the history of the United States, and it all started with a simple Facebook event group.

It will likely be generations before the full ramifications of technology’s swift and massive influence over so many aspects of our lives will be fully understood, and while there has been much hand wringing over the relentless pace of technological advancements, I myself can only marvel at the resources that we now have at our fingertips. With just a few clicks or taps, an idea can go viral and a movement can be born, and although movement building is nothing new, the sheer scope and speed at which people can come together due to today’s communication tools is staggering to behold. Not only are people coming together, but they are sharing ideas, perspectives, and stories, and when criticisms are raised, people are listening and engaging. In its earliest incarnation, the Women’s March on Washington was quite rightly criticized for its all white leadership and for appropriating the name Million Women March from the historic 1997 march in Philadelphia. Organizers moved quickly to correct these early errors, bringing in respected leaders from diverse backgrounds and renaming the event. Today, on the eve of the march, it promises to be one of the most inclusive and diverse rallies in the history of this country, and it has come together in just a fraction of the time an event of this scope would normally need. That’s the power of technology, and its potential for the future is truly inspiring.

The Women’s March on Washington promises to be a historic event, and while I hope you will all come out and join us on January 21st, my bigger hope is that this Saturday is merely the beginning of a new age of positive and peaceful activism. If one Facebook event page can lead to an event of this size, imagine what we can accomplish going forward. I have made it my life’s work to advocate on behalf of women and girls around the world for gender parity, so I will be proudly marching this Saturday in Park City (#marchonmain) alongside my incredible daughter and many dear friends for many causes that I hold dear. Organizers have repeatedly stressed that this rally should not be seen as anti-Trump, but rather an event for all defenders of human rights, so regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, I hope you will join us, either in Washington, or across the US and the world at large. As the policy platform of the march states, we are all in this together.

The Women’s March on Washington is a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds in our nation’s capital on January 21, 2017, to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination. 

Recognizing that women have intersecting identities and are therefore impacted by a multitude of social justice and human rights issues, we have outlined a representative vision for a government that is based on the principles of liberty and justice for all. As Dr. King said, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” 

2017. The Year of Wonder Women.

wwAs published on LinkedIn Influencers on December 31st, 2016.

I believe in the story of Wonder Woman. I always have. Not the literal baby being made from clay story, but the metaphorical one. I believe in a story where a woman is the hero and not the victim. I believe in a story where a woman is strong and not weak. Where a woman can fall in love with a man, but she doesn’t need a man. Where a woman can stand on her own two feet. And above all else, I believe in a story where a woman has superpowers that she uses to help others, and yes, I believe that a woman can help save the world.

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Wonder Woman in DC’s All Star Comics #8 in December, 1941. She was introduced as an Amazon warrior who was sent to the world of men to fight against the biggest threat facing the world at that time; the Nazi party in World War II. Since her debut, Wonder Woman has come to stand for justice, progress, equality, and fiercely strong women the world over, and she has inspired me countless times in my life and career. I constantly tell myself to strive to be a superhero, and when times get tough, I ask myself, “What would Wonder Woman do?”

In 1972, the premiere issue of Ms. magazine put Wonder Woman on its cover and boldly proclaimed, “Wonder Woman for President!” Obviously, a fictional character cannot be president of the United States (nor can she be an Ambassador for the United Nations it seems), but I had, however, hoped that when celebrating 75 years of Wonder Woman, I would also be celebrating many other big wins for women in leadership. Additionally, I desperately wanted to see Wonder Woman on the big screen, and three years ago I published a 60 page report to that end. With Spider Man already at three incarnations in just 15 years, I figured it was time for Wonder Woman to get her due.

Incidentally, in 2002, I left my job at Goldman Sachs in no small part because I had an idea for a screenplay about Wonder Woman, and I had decided that I was the one to write it. The narrative was that one woman, no matter what kind of powers she had, could not on her own save the world. Anything she could do alone would always be a drop in the bucket, and she learned this the hard way. Yes, she may have saved one woman from sexual assault, but what about the other 1 in 5 women who were likely to experience sexual violence in their lifetimes? So what my character decided to do was to develop a plan to help all women by focusing on the world’s most powerful and influential people and tap into their own unique superpowers. Her job was to recruit them, take them to an island (think Maui), and run a superhero bootcamp. The ultimate goal? To help get the most awesome, incredible, brilliant, qualified, kind woman possible elected to our world’s highest office: President of the United States of America. What was going to be the main dramatic tension of the film? That our ‘perfect’ candidate would not win, but instead would lose to a man who was going to turn the earth over to alien, and very dark, forces. What you did not know at the beginning of the film was that our female presidential candidate was actually delivered to earth at her birth, and was actually was our Wonder Woman character’s sister. Remember this was 2002. No joke.

I never did write that screenplay, but so many elements of that story have since played out in real life. Beyond the narrative around a possible female president, there is the bigger one about women using their powers for good. My life’s work as a speaker, blogger, and Chief Engagement Officer of Women Moving Millions has been about championing for women to use their resources, time, treasure, and talent to not only support women and girls around the world, but to help create a more safe, just, and equitable world in the process. It is only when all of us more fully embrace our power to help and serve others that the dream of a brighter future might finally be realized.

In the meantime, Wonder Woman is FINALLY coming to the big screen in her own film on June 2nd, 2017, and I will be there on opening day for the first possible screening. The trailers that have been released so far show the Wonder Woman that I know and love; a fierce warrior who comes to the world of man to take a stand and fight against injustice. She is strong, capable, and puts those bullet deflecting bracelets to good use on more than one occasion, and makes it abundantly clear that she will do the right thing, even if no one else will.

Young girls need to see more incredible women in positions of leadership. They need to see women who can stand up against injustice. In the absence of a female president, I’ll take a fictional hero who will remind our young girls and daughters that women are powerful agents of change who will not sit idly by. They will march into battle, at times armed only with a shield, bullet-deflecting bracelets, and a lasso of truth, and fight evil in whatever form it may come.

It’s been 75 years since Wonder Woman first entered pop culture, and she’s been an inspiration to millions ever since. In the coming year, I hope she continues to inspire and motivate all of us, and helps to make 2017 the tipping point for women’s leadership, starting with the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st. Later, on June 2nd, 2017, I hope you all go out and support this film and what it stands for. And if you are going through difficult times tell yourself to be a superhero, and ask yourself, “What Would Wonder Woman do?”