One in five. One of every five college women experiences rape, sexual assault, or harassment during her undergraduate years. That means 2.4 million women currently enrolled in American colleges and universities either will endure, or have already endured, such horrors while away at school. If this number represented a city's population, that city would be the fourth largest in the United States.
It’s no wonder then, that former President Jimmy Carter recently wrote, “I have become convinced that the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls.” In his new book A Call to Action, he issues just that - a call on the world to confront violence against women and girls and the misogyny from which it arises.
He’s not only talking about violence against college women. He also means the estimated 160 million “missing women,” killed either before or shortly after they were born, simply because they were girls in cultures that idolized boys. He means over 140 million girls and women, their bodies desecrated by female genital mutilation, typically before the age of 14 and without anesthesia. He means several hundred thousand women and girls who live in modern-day slavery, over 14 million girls who will be married off as child brides this year, and untold millions who have been raped in combat zones.
In short, one out of every three women around the world has experienced physical or sexual violence. As a father of daughters, I find this both heartbreaking and infuriating.
So I choose to answer President Carter's call, compelled by my faith and my experience as a dad.
I am joining the staff of the Man Up Campaign, a non-profit organization of global scope founded by award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker Jimmie Briggs. Man Up mobilizes young people, and especially young men, to end gender-based violence and to advance gender equality in their communities and countries. My specific focus will be to organize and lead the Greater Los Angeles chapter. My work will involve:
• Educating groups of men about gender-based violence and gender equality, using sports, music, art, and technology to launch meaningful conversations.
• Helping these men to develop an empathetic, servant-hearted masculinity through continued conversations and intentional relationships.
• Guiding these men to evaluate their own relationships with women and girls and to act as everyday allies.
• Enlisting these men to stand with assault survivors against institutions that would ignore their needs for healing and justice.
• Training these men to advocate for media portrayals and legislation that help to reduce gender-based violence and that empower women and girls.
• And much, much more.
Given the scope of the problem, my work with Man Up may only seem like the proverbial “drop in the bucket.” But I trust that the bucket will keep filling, slowly and steadily, as Man Up continues its work, in tandem with other organizations. We will fill that bucket!
But I need your help. Like all non-profit endeavors, Man Up needs donations in order to do its work. Would you please contribute to help me get started? We're looking to raise $10,000, which doesn’t fully fund my position, but it gets things going. And that’s especially important because Southern California colleges have already begun to open their doors for the fall semester!
So please join my support team. Make a donation and tell others about this crowdfunding campaign! I promise that your investment in my work with Man Up will be wisely utilized, not to mention deeply appreciated. Together, we will answer President Carter’s call to action!
- Michael Redford
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