This week, we join the rest of Canada in celebrating Gender Equality Week! From September 23rd-27th, people from coast to coast will celebrate the progress our country has made in advancing gender equality, while reflecting on the work that remains to make sure that everyone – regardless of their gender – can reach their full potential.

As an organization whose vision is to achieve women’s equality, our everyday work is dedicated to ensuring a more gender-equal society. While we aim to inspire our supporters to do the same, we recognize it’s not always an easy task, and that achieving true equality can seem like a difficult and distant goal. However, we believe that small changes can make a difference and that if enough people speak up and take action, that is when progress can be made.

Want to be a part of Gender Equality Week? Here are five actions you can start making this week to help advance gender equality for women, men and people of all gender identities:

Use gender-inclusive language

Do you use phrases like “Hey guys” or “Hello ladies and gentlemen” when addressing a group of people? These phrases are so normalized that some will argue that they don’t take offence to them. However, there are many alternative phrases you can use to be more inclusive of all genders and to ensure that gender minorities do not feel excluded from your group or space. Try using terms like Everybody, Everyone, Friends, Folks – which encompass all genders. 

Speak up against sexist behaviour

We’ve all been there – someone around us says or does something which we know is so wrong, demoralizing, or unprofessional, yet somehow, we let it slide. We’re afraid of offending others, we don’t want to be a tattletale, or we think, “That’s just how they are – I can’t change them,” and don’t bother doing anything. Saying nothing is easy, but that only excuses sexist behaviour to happen again and again. Speaking up doesn’t have to mean calling them out on the spot – try taking them aside later to offer feedback, and explaining why their behaviour is wrong. 

Challenge gendered roles at work

Even with equal gender representation of employees in workplaces, many look past the gendered administrative roles that are often undertaken by women. “Office housework,” which includes taking meeting notes, ordering lunch, or organizing staff parties is often unfairly put on women. To stop this cycle, encourage your workplace to assign communal tasks evenly to ensure that work is shared and valued. 

Learn the facts and spread the word

You might know that gender equality is needed to make progress, but some people just need the cold, hard facts to prove it. To counter the myth that gender equality is just a “women’s issue,” read up on how gender equality benefits everyone, and do your part in challenging those around you to do the same. You can start by sharing this article with those close to you!

Support organizations doing the work

There are many organizations whose mission and vision is to achieve gender equality, or have programs dedicated to supporting gender minorities. Consider volunteering for these organizations, sharing their content on social media, or making a direct financial contribution to support their work – every bit counts.

We hope that you will join us celebrating Gender Equality Week by taking action with these small steps. 

We will be highlighting some of the advocacy work that we do at the YWCA to address the root causes of inequality and advance gender equality – from issues such as universal childcare to affordable housing, to stopping violence against women.

Republished with permission from YWCA Metro Vancouver. Written by Peggy Chen.