By Dr. Kelly Page, PhD
“What you do today as a woman is because of the generation of women who came before you. It also impacts the generation of women who will follow you.”
These are the words my mother shared with me in my twenties. Words that defined for me how I and my peers were standing on the shoulders of great women in history. Women who inspired change for women in the world through what they did locally, as well as their impact globally.
During Women’s History Month we celebrate and honor the work and lives of these women. We also have a responsibility to continue to impact change so we can accelerate gender parity, so all women, everywhere are free to work, live and love as they choose to. Be it starting a social initiative, supporting a cause or hosting an event, we can all play a role by participating to inspire change in how we value and pay tribute to women.
So how do you get started in the design of a social initiative, a cause or event? How can we continue the work of great women of history?
In 2016 I launched the social initiative, Grateful4Her: A thank you note to women everywhere. Grateful4Her serves as a platform for sharing the stories of women of history, from different cultures and countries and across professions. In this initiative, I took the bold step of marking in the sand that we are on a mission to change how the world and especially the media values and talks about women.
It has been three months since the launch and we have learned much about what it means to bring people together around a social idea for change for women. In the creation of Grateful4Her we also reviewed the social design of some 50 different social initiatives to identify what made each effective in its impact. This is what we identified.
Every successful social movement from #BlackLivesMatter to the #IceBucketChallenge has a core central idea at its heart, an idea that is conveyed simply, that people are very passionate about. It is this passion and this simplicity in its communication that inspires people to come together and to participate. It is this that makes the idea sticky. The idea for Grateful4Her was inspired by a passionate reaction to how people and the media speak about and treat women, and the desire to change this in a positive way.
People are always at the heart of change. Who will your idea impact and who will you bring together in order to implement your idea? It is critical to identify the key communities involved and the people or influencers who can assist you in designing and implementing your idea. Having these people involved in planning helps to ensure the people remain your core focus and have a voice in the idea from the very beginning. With Grateful4Her we invited over 50 people, men and women to participate in the first series of videos, and we curated a team of over 10 partners that we worked with.
An important question to help you focus the idea is what specifically are you asking people to specifically stand for? We live in language every day, and it is the language we use that creates the world and us in it. It is important to consider how you word what you are asking of people. Perhaps you are asking people to stand for equal pay, or to put a stop to violence against women.
Or maybe you are passionate about women’s advancement and education. Grateful4Her is a celebration, it is a platform for paying tribute to women and their stories. So we ask for people to be more grateful for women in their everyday, and to make this gratitude more visible to the women they are grateful for. It is in making our gratitude visible that it has a social impact.
What are you actually wanting people to do and participate in? How will they become part of the conversation? Perhaps you want to start a movement, host a local event or share a petition or some content online and have it spread. Whatever the action, it needs to be accessible to the very community you are working with impacting, as well as something that is relatively easy to do. We created a website to host the stories and tributes for Grateful4Her, we launched three social accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) curated using the #Grateful4Her hashtag, and we host quarterly events. All these have one intention: To invite people to be part of the Grateful4Her conversation.
Some of the best social movements are organic. They were not planned or pre-designed, no schedule was set. Someone had an idea, executed it and it started to spread because it resonated with people and because of the timing. I spend much of my time listening to social conversations through social and digital media. I focus on what are people talking, sharing and passionate about? And what types of content are they sharing, from who and when. This helps me to identify when to launch an initiative, a campaign or share a piece of content. Timing is everything, and to be sustainable the most impactful social movements have impact over time.
To have a social impact in the world, we need the idea, the people, the ask, the action and the timing. And this month there is a call to action to make a honor the women of history by being bold for change for women, locally and globally. We are at a crossroads historically and socially where while we have come so far there is still so much more for us to do together so that all women are treated equitably and are valued for their contribution.
At Grateful4Her we are celebrating the lives of women every day, and you can too. To honor a woman of history or a woman who has impacted you or inspired you in some way, you can record a Grateful4Her Tribute video and share it with your friends and family.
Think of a woman you are grateful for? Who is she and why are you Grateful4Her? Share your tribute on social media with #Grateful4Her.
Kelly Page has a PhD in the ‘Psychology of Web-based technology’ and has dedicated over 15 years consulting on, researching and educating about the human-social design of human-web interaction and communications. She is founder and curator of the social initiative Grateful4Her and the social design studio, Live What You Love, LLC.
Grateful4Her is a thank you note to women everywhere and is on a mission to drive change in how we talk about the work and impact of women. Live What You Love, LLC, a social design studio that lives at intersection of social impact, social design and the art of social media.