I am (wo)man Campaign

About I am (wo)man

I am (wo)man is a digital media campaign calling on women and men from all over the world to share, through a photo and personal story, what women’s economic empowerment means to them.

The purpose of I am (wo)man is to spread awareness of and encourage action for women’s economic empowerment through digital and social media.
The campaign will highlight the two-pronged approach of women’s economic empowerment:

  • Women's economic empowerment is a fundamental human right. Realizing women's equal economic, social and cultural rights can transform and advance women's access to material needs and opportunities, and reshape unequal power relationships between women and men.
  • When women are economically empowered, the benefits ripple outwards in form of gender equality and reduced poverty. Empowered women raise healthier and better-educated children and contribute to increased household income, a more productive workplace, and to economies that are more inclusive.

By joining I am (wo)man, you will gain visibility and receive global recognition about your commitment to support women to realize their full potential in the economy and beyond. See more how to join below.

The I am (wo)man story

I was traveling from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, staring at the road as it wound along the South Atlantic on the highway towards a cidade maravilhosa - the marvelous city.

I had just been named Global Champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment 48 hours earlier and a swirl of ideas were dizzying up my mind like a hurricane of thoughts, becoming more intense the more I conjured more thoughts. What could I do with my new role? What could I achieve? I had always strived to inspire others but how could I now?

I thought back to why I believed in women’s economic empowerment. I thought of my mother. I thought of my grandmother. I thought of my great-grandmother.And I reflected on how they influenced me and made me the man I am today.

And then it dawned on me – through all these women and in this very image of a man, I discovered that I was, indeed, woman as well. Images of the campaign flooded my mind: pictures, stories, peoples from all walks of life, declaring that they were women as well – including other men. The image of unifying the humanrace, irrespective of gender, to declare one phrase in order to unify and inspire.

When the bus finally arrived at my Carioca home for the time in the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa in Rio, I stepped off it declaring “I am (Wo)Man” under my breath. Alas, the campaign was born.

When you fall in love with someone fantastic, you cannot hide your feelings and want to declare your love to the world. In a way, I had become like the spell bound lover, wanting to share my campaign with the world. And so I showed it with my fellow champions.

I believe things happen for a reason and when you bless others with your positive energy and good intentions, the world showers you with the same. Within a few days, four other incredible women approached me, feeling inspired by the campaign. They believed in it and fell in love just as I had. And each of these inspiring women shared their stories and their gifts to it.

Sharon Reed, Founder for the Global Girls Project in the United States, shared her business development skills and savvy ways to convince powerful companies, such as The Coca-Cola Company, USAID, and the Woman Thrive Worldwide to fall in love with the campaign as she did, supporting the project as partners. Jaslin Kalsi, an economics academic originally from Kenya but based in Australia, brought her sensible and acute eye for perfection to the team as well as lending a voice to the campaign within the Australasia region. Laura Cook, a British photographer based in Sierra Leone until the Ebola outbreak, brought in her experience as a United Nations and NGO photographer to the team and allowed us to put a face to the campaign, helping others see themselves through the photos and the stories shown. And then there is Belinda-Rose Young, a public health professional in Jamaica. She partnered with Jaslin to bring in the voices of academia into the campaign and permit great minds to lend their theoretical reasoning on not only why women should be empowered, but why it’s a vital human right.

Together with the amazing support of UN Women’s EmpowerWomen Team, whom we now see as both colleagues and friends who believed in the campaign to push it through, we lent our stories, but most importantly, we wanted to show the inspiring voices of others around the world. To be inspired by women and men who believe in economic empowerment for all, in a world where in some parts women still face hardships, to find their voice to even reach such a status.

The women in my family inspired me to achieve my dreams. I can only pray that the women of the world, brought together through the stories of this campaign in addition to our own stories, inspire you all to follow your dreams and to achieve your full potential, becoming economically empowered as well.
Together, let us all declare – I am (wo)man – Gesù Antonio Báez, @JesusABaez 

How to become (wo)man

How can I join the campaign? Join EmpowerWomen.org by registering and completing your profile. On 5 February, you can upload your photo and caption to EmpowerWomen.org.

What’s expected from me? Share multimedia stories of women who have made a difference in your life, family or community because they were economically empowered. You may also provide multimedia stories of men who have benefited from an economically empowered woman – be her or his partner, mother, friend, acquaintance. The story should be written in first person.

How should the story look like? Personal, relevant and short (up to 300 words). The following questions may guide: 

  1. What does economic empowerment mean to you? What difference has economic empowerment made in your life?
  2. How has an economically empowered woman helped you become the woman or man you are?
  3. What are the current threats to women’s economic empowerment in your community? What could be done to change this and/or what have you done about it?
  4. What are your dreams for the future either for yourself as an economically empowered woman or for women and girls in your community?

What photo should I submit? The photo should be powerful and positive. It should convey the message you want associated with your story. Please follow these guidelines:

  1. Must be in line with the purpose of the campaign.
  2. Must clearly show the individual unless that person wishes his/her identity to remain hidden. If so, the image can show her/his hands or an object poignant to her/his story.
  3. Must show the person featured as an individual with dignity. Remember, this is a campaign to highlight women’s empowerment.
  4. Must be relevant to the story. For example, if showing a woman who owns a business then show her at work.
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