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Ready to Be an Ally? Here’s What You Should Know

Updated: Jun 25

A simple guide for a male ally looking for a woman’s perspective. 

By Divya Joseph

“You need to improve your homemaking skills,” a family friend said to me when I was 12, “Otherwise, how else do you expect to find a husband.” I clenched as I thought of a defense. But before I could speak, I heard another voice saying, “Don’t worry about her. She is doing just fine. Let her focus on her studies.” It was my grandfather. His words then and many other times have made me feel more supported to fight gender stereotypes and focus on excelling in school, extracurriculars, and life in general.

Women and girls worldwide confront gender bias daily. It robs us of rights, blocks opportunities, and causes an immeasurable amount of stress and anxiety. The support of male allies, like my grandfather, can provide an important boost to continue fighting for our rights and striving for success.

Male allies play a crucial role in advancing gender equity. However, it can often feel challenging to address the layered aspects of gender inequality. Here are some women and grandfather-approved steps you can take to become a better male ally.

At Home

We learn our core values and habits at home. Therefore, addressing gender inequities at home is an important place to start., Today, a majority of households remain unequal, with housework disproportionately falling on girls and women. About 91% of women with children spend at least an hour a day on housework, compared to only 30% of men with children.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Recognize your privilege: Many of us have privileges that give us advantages just by being part of certain social identity groups. To create change, we need to identify our privileges and understand where we might be blind to others' barriers. Men who recognize the gender gap and their particular privileges are more effective allies than those who don't.

  2. Listen: While privilege can make us unaware of marginalized individuals’ struggles, listening helps bridge this gap. Women and girls understand their needs best and hold valuable insight in addressing the gender gap. So, listen to them! 

  3. Challenge gender norms: A majority of ideas about gender norms are solidified by age seven. Create an environment where children can challenge these norms. While gender ideas form early, you can still influence older relatives by encouraging empathetic discussions to address subconscious biases.

  4. Share household duties equitably: When both partners share duties equally, it challenges stereotypes and ushers in a more balanced perspective on gender roles. Countries with greater gender equality in chores also have higher rates of female workforce participation and employment equality.

  5. Let women be the hero: Allyship means creating opportunities for women to be in the spotlight. Sometimes eager allies can take center stage while advocating and unintentionally deprive marginalized members of opportunities to amplify their stories.

At Work 

Despite progress in many aspects, gender inequality at work is still a major issue. Only six countries—Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden—provide women with the same legal rights at work as men. Meanwhile, women experience some form of job restrictions in 86 countries and 95 countries do not ensure equal pay for equal work.

One obvious indicator of gender inequity at work is the pay gap. Women earn an average of 18% less than men.  For women of color, the gap is greater. Women are also disproportionately affected by workplace sexual violence and harassment, with more than 8% reporting some form of harassment or violence compared to 5% of men.

Here’s what you can do: 

  1. Speak up: Speak up against discriminatory behavior, advocate for equal pay, call out workplace sexual harassment, and support policies that would result in paid family leave and affordable childcare. Vocal allies at work increase the sense of belonging for women and reduce underrepresentation in teams.    

  2. Respect women’s personal space: Women need more personal space, especially from men. For sexual assault or domestic violence survivors, personal space violations can be very distressing, so always honor others' space.

  3. Amplify women: Amplification is a strategy developed by White House women workers that combats subconscious bias that silences women, especially women of color. Male allies use it by inviting female colleagues into conversations. For example, in a meeting, they might ask a female colleague, "What do you think?"

  4. Build inclusive networking: Women are often excluded from team activities and business travel, limiting their opportunities to build valuable relationships. Women’s networks are mostly female, while men’s networks are predominantly male hence more senior. To address this, suggest inclusive company outings that everyone can enjoy and participate in.

  5. Be a mentor: Offer your resources, knowledge, and influence to women colleagues, but ask how you can support them instead of assuming to avoid the dreaded mansplaining pothole.

In the Community 

The United Nations reports that it will take 300 years to reach full gender equity. Earlier this year the UN  Secretary-General António Guterres stated that armed conflicts, climate change, and deeply entrenched gender biases are threatening to set progress back

At Girl Rising, we have long recognized a simple yet powerful solution to tackling gender inequity and many global challenges: educating girls.

A single year of primary school can boost women's wages by 10–20% later in life, while secondary education can increase earnings by 15–25%. This enhances women's financial independence and empowers them to have greater control over their futures.

Educated girls are better equipped to advocate for their rights and challenge discrimination. They are more likely to take part in politics, hold leadership roles, and support gender equality policies. This creates more inclusive and fair societies where both men and women can thrive.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Vote: Promote women in leadership and candidates that support inclusive policies and investment in girls’ education. Supporting women's access to voting and transportation to the polls can have a profound impact on outcomes. Nations that are closing the gender wage gap often have higher female voter turnout and active female participation in governance.

  2. Advocate: Join advocacy efforts for gender equity by signing petitions, writing to lawmakers, and participating in demonstrations. Another simple way is using social media to share information on the issues and encourage others to take steps towards equity. Right now allies are joining influential male advocates for gender equity and women’s rights Nicko Nogues, Hakeem Subair, and Nikhil Taneja in posting videos that encourage world leaders and organizations to prioritize girls’ rights, especially their right to education. Learn more and join the movement now. 

  3. Support women’s rights groups: Get involved and volunteer with women’s rights associations in your community. When men actively engage in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations make progress, compared to only 30% where men are not involved.

  4. Donate: Women's rights organizations, such as Girl Rising, rely on donor funds to drive systemic change. However, gender inequity persists in philanthropic giving, with less than 2% of total donations in the US going to women’s rights nonprofits. Help change this by prioritizing donations to women's organizations and encouraging others to do the same. Start now by donating here.

If you've reached this point in the editorial, you've demonstrated a strong commitment to understanding meaningful allyship. Allies are the difference between slow but steady progress and no progress at all. It's individuals like you who are contributing to building a more inclusive and fair society for all genders.

Thank you for helping create more inclusive spaces at home, work and in the community.  It's individuals like you who are contributing to building a more inclusive and fair society for all genders. 

Want more perspectives? Here's more from Girl Rising staff members:

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