It looks like a woman’s place is now online
Women’s issues have never had as much attention as they do now. Whether it’s #metoo and the attention that’s being paid to the rampant sexual harassment, the thriving sex trade, or the missing and murdered Indigenous women, it is impossible to ignore the weight and enormity of these challenges.
Many women who wish to help often look for a women’s organization to join so they can be part of the solution to these problems. Why then, are women’s organizations having such trouble attracting new members?
Our legacy is longer than most people realize
The world has changed since some of these women’s organizations came into existence. Some, like Zonta International, launched more than 90 years ago. We’ll celebrate our 100th birthday in 2019! The approach and format of these clubs no longer seem appealing to younger generations. It could be because of the demands of juggling career and family, or the absence of a club in a geographical area, or even the resistance from existing members to new ideas and ways of addressing long-standing challenges.
Let’s face it, we are in a digital world. Some college and university students are earning entire degrees online. Businesses have also accepted this change. While many have adapted to this new world, others are facing a difficult decision on whether or not they can exist in this new environment. Physical/geographical based organizations are not always nimble enough to respond to the demands of a fast-paced and changing environment.
Long history, modern approach
In many respects, the Zonta eClub of Canada provides an array of exciting opportunities to adapt to this new environment through its advocacy work. Through an eClub, members can participate regardless of their physical location. With all the tools available to us, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and video-conferencing on our smartphones, computers, and tablets, we have the means to participate regardless of when and where a discussion is happening. This is extremely appealing to a busy mother and/or career woman – and it suits our male members too.
The Zonta eClub of Canada’s digital approach also addresses another critical point that may have been a barrier to women’s organizations achieving faster and impactful results – the dilution of resources. By focusing on one or two clear outcomes, an eClub will be able to harness resources from all over the world to bring attention and change to an issue, just like #metoo has just done. Look at how quickly this issue (finally) rose to prominence. It is impacting so many industries and powerful individuals while also bringing about long overdue change. The #metoo movement is also creating an opportunity to address intersectionality – and the layered impact that’s felt by women who often feel marginalized due to their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
It is time to realize that broad and extensive mandates/priorities don’t work in our demanding digital world and that just by bringing awareness and enough voices to a specific issue, change can happen. Fast.
This article was written by Robin Chiponski, a founding member of the Zonta eClub of Canada1’s Board of Directors. The views expressed here don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of other members of the Zonta e-Club of Canada1 or Zonta International.