Founder of the Me Too movement, Tarana Burke, called on students to use their spheres of influence to make change at an Imperial event.
Speaking at the CNBC x Imperial Chain Reactions Speaker Series, organised in collaboration with the Enterprise Lab and Imperial College Business School, Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too movement and Latanya Mapp Frett, President and CEO of Global Fund for Women spoke about what it takes to create a global grassroots movement and how others can spark their own chain reactions.
Don’t be afraid to start small
During the event, Tarana and Latanya answered questions from Imperial students on grassroots movements, collective power and influence.
Tarana said that the first step for students wanting to drive change is to look at existing movements and help amplify their work.
She said: “If you are passionate about an issue, go volunteer with an organisation or group that’s doing this work already.”
“You do not have to be on the front page of magazines and leading hundreds of thousands of people down the street in protest in order to build a movement. You can start very small in your sphere of influence and build from there."
Latanya added: “Joining others has to be your first point of entry, where you find like minds and where you can influence those minds and help those organisations.”
Use your sphere of influence
Our spheres of influence are important, Tarana said: “We have to look at the places where we possess power and reshape those things. For instance, in your job, you can reshape how power is dispersed and dealt with if you are a manager or you’re somebody who has influence in your workplace.”
She added: “Where we have spheres of influence, we have to reimagine how power is used"
Activism at the local level is important
Speaking on the importance of local activism, Latanya said: “We need to – from wherever we sit, whatever we do, however we feel – continue to support the work that is happening at the local level. We need to continue to make sure that women activists in the local communities where we live have what they need to do the work.”
She added: “It is important that we take this opportunity and take this moment to continue to move these issues forward, keep them on the agenda and hold those who are accountable responsible for what is happening to women and girls around the world.”
More investigative journalism is needed to tell these stories
The media can help and hinder movements like Me Too, they said.
Tarana explained: “Part of the issue is that the media has talked about Me Too from a very one-side perspective, so people think about the Me Too movement as a spectator sport – they're watching the media to see who gets ‘Me Too-ed' next and who is the next person that’s going to be splashed on the front page of the newspapers.
“There are so many stories that have made up this movement... We wouldn’t be here if not for thorough and accurate investigative journalism and we need more of that. But we need more of it about everyday people and about the issues that are bigger than Hollywood, celebrities or media moguls.”
“When we work together in a network, we can change things”
Asked about the role of cross-border collaboration, and working with governments and organisations around the world, Latanya said: “When we work from the bottom to the top, from the grassroots to the international, we can change things. Perhaps after several generations, our granddaughters will benefit from our efforts and will say we are not victims anymore.”
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