Nigel Barker, a famous fashion photographer and judge on the popular TV show America’s Next Top Model, recently joined the ranks of men who are actually standing up for gender equality instead of doing nothing about the injustices that keep it far from our reach.
Barker has both a son and a daughter, and he credits his increased awareness and concern about global gender issues to his fatherhood.
His spirit about women’s empowerment is clear in his powerful words: “I want [my daughter] to be as empowered, confident, and educated as she can possibly be. Certainly, as an equal to my son. I want her to have every opportunity I can possibly give her.”
He brought his activism to a U.N. campaign called Girl Up by becoming one of their “Champions.” Girl Up focuses on bringing gender equality to developing nations through ensuring education, health, and safety. Having basic human needs met is so important to anyone’s ability. If a girl has her basic needs met, she won’t have to worry about day-to-day survival and can work toward becoming her best self. By being one of the organization’s Champions, Barker is helping support adolescent girls so they have the best opportunity to become strong leaders.
On his official Girl Up profile, he writes, “The unique ‘for girls, by girls’ approach of the Girl Up campaign harnesses the enthusiasm of girls in this country to help ensure every girl – no matter where she is born – is educated, healthy, safe, counted, and positioned to be a part of the next generation of leaders.”
Being aware of the injustices around us is only one part of dismantling gender inequality. Barker knows that the next step toward equality involves the individual: what can we do to change things? Some actions Barker mentions include focusing on awareness in the industry in which you work, viewing the world through a woman’s eyes, and ditching assumptions about women and girls, such as their interests or things they stereotypically should or shouldn’t like.
Another particularly powerful part of understanding gender inequality that the famed photographer mentions is that men often feel insecure about the topic because they view it as an attack on themselves or their gender.
He shares that “[t]o tackle this issue, men need to accept that this is not about them or women taking anything away from them.” Instead, men should lower their defenses and acknowledge the real issue before them when gender inequality is involved: women’s vulnerability in the world, not men’s.
We appreciate this rad dad’s activism. Take a page from his book and work toward implementing this important awareness in your own life!
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