Happy International Women’s Day! I personally celebrate women and their accomplishments and push for equality everyday, but I’m happy to welcome everyone else into the fold on days like today. And celebration is wonderful, but it’s also important to talk about what work still needs to be done. Because we have a long way to go before we can really feel more equal across gender, race, and all of our identities. So today, I want to talk about what we, as individuals, can do to work towards a more equal future when it comes to gender. This isn’t to say that individuals have the most responsibility, because governments and corporations need to do the bulk of the work. But that doesn’t mean we need to sit idly by in the meantime.

This isn’t to say that individuals have the most responsibility, because governments and corporations need to do the bulk of the work. But that doesn’t mean we need to sit idly by in the meantime.

Negotiate Your Salary

As I wrote last week, the gender pay gap is still alive and well. Ultimately, this issue is the responsibility of our government and our business. They are the ones who can create and implement equal pay policies across the board. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us are helpless to make change. In fact, I think it’s important that we all push for change within the structures that we exist. One way you can do this is to negotiate your salary when you’re offered a new job and ask for a raise within your current organization.

Why does this matter?

For more resources on how to negotiate your pay, check out AAUW and Bossed Up.

Talk About Money

It’s critical that we all start talking about money in all its iterations as much as we can. The more we talk about it, the less taboo it will be, and the less alone we will feel. Plus, we’ll be more aware of the inequality that exists around us. For example, if you’re being underpaid in your position compared to your male colleagues, there’s no way for you to know that unless someone tells you. There are certainly ways to talk about money at work that are respectful of your colleagues while still helping you to get on an even playing field. Doing this will also empower your colleagues to do the same.

But talking about money is important outside of the workplace too. The more we talk about our overwhelming student loan debt, the more we can fight against the astronomical costs of education as a society. The more we talk about crushing credit card debt, the more equipped we will feel to make a plan to get out of it, and put restrictions on credit card companies, while we’re at it. Plus, we can set our friends, family, and children up for success by encouraging them to talk about and learn about money so that they can feel better prepared.

Vote, Vote, Vote

The last several months of primary season have been exhausting. I think our elections are incredibly important and even I have been disengaging with the news during the primaries. So if you’ve been doing the same, it’s okay. However, it’s NOT okay for you to not vote in local, state, and national elections. Our elections and government might feel like a hot mess right now, but they won’t get better if we don’t do our part by voting. In fact, things are certain to stay the same or get worse if we sit it out. So it’s important that you re-engage and make sure to vote in all elections!

Here’s how you can get started:

Bonus points if you decide to run for office yourself! If you want support in doing that, check out She Should Run, and Emily’s List.

Advocate for Equality-Friendly Policies

Just because things are currently as they are doesn’t mean that they have to stay that way. I’m a huge proponent of pushing for change. We don’t have to accept things as they are, especially if we know they are wrong. That’s why it’s up to us to push our companies and lawmakers to enact policies that level the playing field for all of us.

These are just a few things we should be pushing for:

Stand Up For Others

As I said above, different issues affect different people in different ways. Socioeconomic status often determines the rights and opportunities that we have access to. But when we are more privileged, it can be easy to put our blinders on when it comes to the problems other people are facing. The truth is, though, we all need to be standing up for each other. Those directly impacted by injustice are not always capable of speaking up and advocating for themselves. That’s why it’s so important for the rest of us to speak up when we see something is wrong and advocate for change, even if it won’t directly affect us. Because ultimately, oppression against one group threatens oppression against all of us.