“Activism is my rent for living on the planet,” is a very powerful quote by Alice Walker that has become one of the mantras we live by. For us, activism is a responsibility. We feel the need to stand up for causes like gender equality, climate justice, and inclusivity, because it is in our hands to make the world a better place. As global citizens, we have to become informed, understand global issues, and resolve them. We shouldn’t settle for a world with inequalities, one in which we don’t treat our planet well, and one in which we don’t give each other dignity and respect. We humans take so much from our planet that we truly need to pay “our rent” for living here. In our journey, we have also learned that we can’t do it alone. Others need to get involved, too. We have always aimed to inspire others to take action.
To be effective as an activist, pick a cause and start taking action, then expand from there. You may be wondering how it’s possible to narrow it down to one cause, especially with so many issues in the world, but we recommend that you start with something local in your community. You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to make a difference, because issues of global importance persist in our own backyards, even if we don’t recognize them at first. Often, we are best equipped to tackle local challenges, because in doing so, we can use our understanding of our communities, volunteer on the ground, and have a lasting impact.
When we began our journey more than ten years ago, we started by recognizing that girls in a school in our village in Pakistan were quitting school when they reached Grade 5. We resolved to fix the issue by understanding the barriers to education they faced. We learned that girls were quitting because their families thought it would be best if they started to work to support them financially, not recognizing the long-term benefits of education for girls. We worked to inspire the girls in our village to continue their education, through workshops, and spoke to their parents about the benefits of educating their daughters. Some of the girls went on to high school, and we are continuing to work with the next generation of kids, to ensure they have the opportunity to continue their education, too.
Taking action for global issues is only half of activism. First, it is essential to understand those issues, including the background, on-the-ground realities, and ultimately how best to contribute to resolving the challenges. Make sure you don’t end up doing more harm than good, which makes this research phase critical before you begin your work. The best way to conduct research is through consulting a variety of sources, including credible books, articles, scholarly journals, films, and videos. Try your best to get a holistic overview of the topic, and ultimately decide what is your stance. As much as you may try to stay neutral when trying to understand global issues, it is also important to note that, as Desmond Tutu says, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Therefore, try to understand all sides of the situation, and from there you can start to understand the best course of action, which will require further research.
We have created this activism formula to help you on your journey. Combine your talents with the causes you are passionate about, and make a difference. An example of this is when we combined our talent for filmmaking and storytelling with the cause of girls’ education, and created change by launching a documentary in Pakistan. Our film features the girls in our village, and changemakers around the country as well. We held screenings of the film worldwide and are doing virtual events now to increase its impact. You can do the same by applying this formula in your journey.
We were honored to start working with girls in our village in Pakistan, and eventually to advocate for girls around the world at platforms like the G7 summit, and we’re just getting started. We think that our journey shows the potential of activism, and demonstrates that if you stay dedicated to a cause you can make a difference. We urge you to see our story as your motivation to take action for the causes you believe in, and know that your actions will have an impact!