Kirstin Ferguson is one of those women that look they have it all together. More irritatingly, she is probably one of those women that actually have it all together. And I loved her on sight.
Kirstin was inspired to start the project because she was sick of the way women were being treated online. She wanted to see some positive representation of women in the media. And because she is the rarest of creatures, of she went and did something about it.
Kirstin is the founder of the project “Celebrating Women” which is aiming to showcase 2 women a day every day of 2017. Over 300 women have taken part from right across the globe so far and it is a fantastic snapshot of the variety of ways that women impact on the world around them.
One of the things that got me hooked on social media quite early on is that it gives a voice to individuals and to groups of people that would not necessarily have a platform. Best of all, social media provides them with a platform that they can access with out ‘permission’ from the establishment. These groups include but are no way limited to refugee voices, indigenous voices, female voices, young voices, queer voices and non-white voices. Sure, social media also provides a platform for those that are best off left voiceless but hey – that’s democracy right?
The access to a platform for women has been both a blessing and a curse. While it gives us access to strong female voices like Clementine Ford, Van Badham, Mariam Veiszadeh, Tara Moss, Yassmin Abdel-Magied – it also gives rise to a cacophony of misandry, misogyny and men’s rights activists worried about their place in the world. While many of these interactions happen on new media, they are reported in old media and it can seem to those not actively engaged that there is just a lot of people being horrid to each other and it’s all because women don’t know their place.
But for every single ‘famous’ strong female voice, there are many others consistently doing great things in the world and impacting on their communities in ways that are small but powerful. They are creating ripples. Providing mentorship. Displaying expertise. They are being ground breaking in their own way but being visible, accountable and transparent in their approach to life. They are showcasing their successes, lamenting their failures, examining new ideas, exploring innovative solutions to old problems.
These women are the women that matter most of all in some ways as seeing somebody you know achieve something makes it so much more accessible than seeing somebody ‘famous’ do it. These women in their turn are influenced by the commentators in their space. And thanks to social media and the digital revolution they have not only access to those voices, but a platform on which to share, converse, learn and engage.
Kirstin’s #celebratingwomen project brings those new voices and inspirations together so that we can access them in one easy Facebook binge. It enables us to share examples and stories that resonate with us, with others. It allows us to see a story that will resonate with a friend or colleague, and share it. It allows us to see that women are steadily working around changing the world around them in small, diverse and inherently powerful ways because they are doing things that they love.
History has shown us that for every Neil Armstrong there is a Katherine Goble Johnson, a Mary Jackson, or a Dorothy Vaughan. The power of #celebratingwomen is it is not waiting for Hollywood or ‘the establishment’ to tell us the stories of those everyday women that are working hard, chipping away at prejudices, setting new standards, mentoring others, inspiring their own daughters. We have the power and ability to tell those stories now and we have the power to tell them ourselves.
And that’s worth celebrating.