Over the last sixteen days Hira Ali has been sharing key tips on her Instagram (@advancingyourpotential) from her latest book Her Allies: A Practical Toolkit to Help Men Lead Through Advocacy. She’s using her platform to take a stand against gender-based violence that has been incredibly prolific across the UK in recent months.
According to a recent report from Karen Ingala Smith via Counting Dead Women, “there have been at least 129 UK women who have been killed by men (or where a man is the principle suspect) so far in 2021.” In addition, on 25th November 2020, a comprehensive 10-year report was published by Femicide Census which shows that “on average, a woman is killed by a man every 3 days.”
To help highlight the gender-based violence that occurs in this country we have taken all sixteen of Hira’s posts and created this blog article to spread awareness. These beneficial tips aim to educate men, women, and young people on this issue by teaching you how to spot gender-based violence, take responsibility for your actions and how to call it out when it does occur.
Day 1 – Educate Yourself
You cannot change or address what you are not aware of. Make an effort to be cognisant of issues impacting women and how these challenges may have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Day 2 – Recognize Privilege & Acknowledge Responsibility
Recognizing privilege is crucial to understanding how unequal access to power and resources impacts communities. We often don’t realise something is ‘missing’ because we are not used to seeing it and we’ve never known anything different. Pay special attention to intersectionality challenges. Everyone occasionally commits a faux pas, but what matters most is admitting your mistake and learning from it. The best allies are not afraid to make mistakes because their intentions are genuine.
Day 3 – Be Transparent & Authentic
Reach out to colleagues, be as transparent as you can, and share what you know while being honest about what you don’t know. And if there’s any miscommunication, be quick to rectify and apologise.
Day 4 – Avoid Victim Blaming & Do Not Engage In
The “she asked for it” argument. The “why did it take so long to report it” argument. The “#MeToo has made it difficult for men” argument. The “not all men” argument. The “but men are victims too” argument.
Day 5 – Ask If You Don’t Know
The only way to become an ally ‘in the know’ is to ask the right questions. The more you know, the easier it will become to help women in your circle feel more comfortable. That said, how you ask is as important as what you ask. You do not want to sound intrusive, just naturally curious.
Day 6 – Listen & Prepare to be Uncomfortable
Active listening involves making a conscious effort to hear and understand the message while being conscious of your biases. When you ask questions with the intention to improve, chances are there will be unexpected feedback involved, which could be awkward, even unpleasant. Do your own work in advance, especially before engaging in difficult conversations. Self-awareness, but more importantly, self-control, are important to develop gender empathy.
Day 7 – Believe Her
When women share a grievance, believe what they say without attaching your own assumptions, and assuming positive intent. Even if you are cautious of validating before investigating, it is important to be empathetic.
Day 8 Be Vigilant
As an ally, it is essential to keep an ear to the ground. Actively scan your environment to spot visibly distressed & disengaged women. Women who seem distracted, scared, or frantic may be struggling to get away from a perpetrator or bully.
Day 9 – Respect Personal Space and Avoid Using Diminutive Language
Acknowledge a woman’s need for physical autonomy and understand that it may be inappropriate to hug or touch her without permission. Some women may prefer a large personal space when men approach them. Actively avoid, and discourages peers, from using pejorative terms such as, ‘love,’ ‘dear,’ or ‘hon’ to address colleagues.
Day 10 – Question Sexist Humour & Comments
Sometimes small and seemingly harmless jokes and banter can snowball into truly ugly things that support the broader company culture that normalises disparaging, sexualising and objectifying women. If you view this content with callousness or apathy, it’s time to shake things up and avoid being an unintentional perpetrator, or worse still, a silent complicit.
Day 11 – Talk About Consent With Children
Understand the meaning of consent and actively initiate and engage in discussions that explore what consent means to those around you, including children. The concept of consent is still quite muddy and people often take advantage of the blurred lines to support their own agenda. NO means no.
Day 12 Call It Out
When a man suggests in a public forum that sexism has occurred, and thereby challenges the perpetrators, targets of sexism report greater self-confidence, as opposed to women who are often negatively evaluated when they personally report an issue.
Day 13 – Invest in Women-Focused Initiatives
Support gender enhancement projects and invest in in women-owned businesses. Promote gender lens investing which is investing in products and services that benefit and empower women socially and economically. Facilitate the work of gender advocates and NGOs.
Day 14 – Support Inclusive Education
As an ally activist, you can help direct personal and organisational funds towards global education. You can also push for formalising financial wellbeing education for young girls to help improve financial capability and futures considerations. Another way to positively impact education is to ensure a diverse curriculum, particularly in terms of history. Traditionally, contributions and achievements of women and other under-represented groups have been side-lined and it’s important to shine a spotlight on these untold stories.
Day 15 – Champion Inclusive Government Policies, Laws, and Regulations
Pro-women laws ensure future economies will be dynamic and inclusive, offering equal opportunity to everyone. Even if you do not hold a government position, you can still lobby for such laws, write letters and sign petitions as other activists do. Even small actions have value and can potentially make a huge difference.
Day 16 – Call Out Media Bias
Media is perhaps the most pervasive and powerful influence amongst the myriad influences that shape our gender views. Challenge and counteract media that intentionally or unintentionally undermines women’s rights; make your voice heard by raising your concerns and registering your complaints where appropriate.
Inviting men to join the gender equality movement.
The Male Allyship movement acknowledges that men need to step up to effect lasting change to women’s experiences in society. Her Allies is a practical toolkit that offers men the strategies they need to become powerful advocates for gender equality. The book is an invitation to all men who are willing to take that bold first step and transform good intention into meaningful action.
Her Allies takes readers on a progressive journey and equips them with strategies to become inclusive allies. It asks readers to (i) challenge themselves, (ii) challenge others, (iii) challenge their organisation and culture, and (iv) challenge institutions. Overall, readers acquire a methodology to become powerful advocates for equality and inclusion for all.
About the Author
Hira Ali is an inspiring leadership trainer and career coach, she has been committed to helping others achieve their potential throughout her award-winning career. She is an Associate Certified Coach accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and a licensed Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner. Hira is also a successful entrepreneur who has launched several businesses to support her mission, including Advancing Your Potential, Career Excel, International Women Empowerment Events and most recently, The Grey Area, which focuses on decoding inclusion. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Huff Post, and Entrepreneur, among hundreds of other TV, radio and print outlets, and earned Hira several prestigious honours including the Top 100 Women-Lift Effects award, the Women in Media award, The Baton Awards Entrepreneur of the Year and recognition as an Outstanding British Pakistani by British Pakistan Foundation. In 2019, Hira released her first book entitled Her Way to the Top: A Guide to Smashing the Glass Ceiling which earned outstanding reviews globally.
For more tips and advice on being a male ally learn more here