Following the Women’s March and the hellish weeks since, Alex Casey reached out to people across the country to make this list of actions and organisations you can lend help to here in New Zealand.
It is almost impossible to comprehend that New Zealand led the rest of the world during the Women’s Marches less than two weeks ago, and how swiftly things have since descended into what can only be described as a long drop straight to hell. There was a brief moment there, standing in the middle of Queen St with millions more globally marching for equality, that everything felt like it was going to be okay. Little kids were chanting “hope not fear.” A lone MRA activist who had ventured out from his mum’s basement to yell at us was silenced by a rogue pair of defiant breasts. It was truly moving (you can hear more about the triumphs and problems of the march here).
As the Auckland crowd spilled into Myers Park, the sizzling energy made me feel like my heart was going to explode and all my teeth and fingernails were going to fall out at the same time. In the best way possible. “They tried to bury us,” quoted columnist Tracy Barnett into the microphone, “but they didn’t know we were seeds.” I got home later that day absolutely bloody fizzing, and started messaging everyone I could think of for cool tips on how to channel this energy into doing more good stuff here in New Zealand.
Needless to say, a lot of things have changed since that weekend. Despite the excrement being piled up, like the seeds, we need to keep growing through the layers of shit. With the generous help of many passionate mates across the country, here is a list of small to big actions that you can take, resources that you can soak in, and further below, organisations you can support, to make positive change here in New Zealand following the Women’s March (follow the Women’s March on Facebook here).
In collaboration with many generous people who helped out across New Zealand, the aim was to make this as inclusive as possible, but it is by no means definitive. It is a starting point, a pick ‘n mix if ye will. And please, if you have any suggestions or organisations that matter to you, please email them to me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make it so.
Thank you kindly to every angelic soul who has contributed to growing this piece so far: Michele A’Court, Leonie Hayden, Amy Pearl, Anna Dean, Angela Meyer-Blacksmith, Marama Davidson, Aych McArdle, Murdoch Stephens, Anna Bracewell-Worrall, Eva McGauley, Catherine McGregor, Lexie Matheson, Nicola Igusa, Johanna Freeman, Laila Harré, Demi Heath, Scout Barbour-Evans, Jess McAllen, Lana Lopesi, Catherine Healy, Kyla Rayner, Alex McLeay, Leonie Morris, Beth Goodwin, Kim Griggs, Robyn Hunt, Katherine Rix, Emily Newman, Rebekah Sherriff, Terry Bellamak, Sarah Batkin and Jackie Clark.
A BY NO MEANS FINISHED LIST OF SMALL ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE RIGHT NOW OR MAYBE TOMORROW OR PERHAPS LATER THIS WEEK EVEN TO NOT FEEL LIKE A HELPLESS AXOLOTL OUT AT SEA
The first is simple: enrol to vote, and make sure your information is up to date. Encourage those around you to enrol, offer to drive or accompany people to the polls, do a walking school bus, do a conga line. Crab walk.
Educating yourself is an act of bloody resistance in itself. If you have the time and the access, lend your brain some precious learnings. There are books and films scattered throughout this post that can help to grow your juicy mind-grapes and make a sweet, angry wine.
In Wellington? Visit Photival during Feb-March and have a geeze at photography that focusses on positive change being made around the world, and the charities making it happen.
Follow @TheWeavingHouse on Twitter, she weaved her feminist magic through this piece and provides a fantastic stream of wahine power and news in New Zealand.
Make an effort to understand the context of colonisation in New Zealand, learn about the whakapapa of the area you live and honour the tangata whenua of your home.
You can find contact information for your local MPs here. Ring them, email them, visit them or write to them (freepost) and tell them what matters to you. Ask them tough questions: what do they think about equal pay and abortion law reform? What position do they hold on the refugee quota? Is the dress white or blue?
Join Good Bitches Baking, they bake every Sunday and donate the goods to people in need so you don’t eat it all alone on a Saturday night.
Volunteer to provide practical support to migrants and refugees by teaching English through English Language Partners here.
Check out the events on around New Zealand for International Women’s Day, the theme this year is ‘Women in the Changing World of Work’.
Go here to watch the incredible stories of refugee women who found a home in New Zealand.
Clear out your closet in the next few weeks and donate all your nice, clean clothes to The Aunties on Facebook who then send them to The Women’s Refuge and the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective.
If you are starting or heading back to uni this year, considering enrolling in a Māori studies or Te Reo paper as part of your course. AUT and Unitec offer free 10 week courses. Here is a list of free or low-cost courses all around NZ.
Read this amazing blog about the experience of disabled women living invisibly throughout New Zealand history.
Call to make it easier for trans people in New Zealand to be able to change their gender markers and names, and with less of a financial barrier.
Remember Girl Guides? Have a look at the website and consider volunteering to help raise so rowdy, nasty New Zealand girls.
Follow and contribute to women’s groups online (like this and this and this). Connect with like-minded people across the country, share chill memes, viral vids and smash the patriarchy like a watermelon. I mean, just shopping and makeup and stuff.
If you haven’t already, sign this petition to legalise abortion in New Zealand.
Understand gender diversity and be conscious of the various symbols of feminism. Many women do not experience vaginas and periods as markers of womanhood.
Consider joining a union, even if you don’t feel like you ‘need’ it. Here is a directory from the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions. Swap tips about how to ask for more $$$, and how you can advocate for people being chronically underpaid $$$.
Consider joining local organisations (listed below), a union, a political party, a book club or even creating your own group. Make tiny circles of chat until all the circles join up bigly in a way that is yuuuge.
If you hear something that is out of line, call the person out. Take a tip from On the Rag and yell “STOP HARASSING WOMEN” at catcallers. Don’t let that racist or sexist family member get off as lightly as they have in the past. Correct pronouns. Be a real snitch.
Live in a major centre and able to march? Assemble a protest kit (featuring shoes, snacks, sunblock, signs) ready for action by the front. Unfortunately, you’ll probably need them again.
Understand the issues impacting New Zealanders around bodily autonomy, such as the genital mutilation of intersex babies, and the shortage of competent health care and support for gender diverse people.
Feel totally free, if you feel safe and up to it, to attend counter-protests during the 40 Days For Life vigils which are held annually by anti-choice groups around New Zealand.
Be sure to look after yourself when engaging in resistance, Jess McAllen writes about the importance of a hot cuppa here.
Sign this petition real quick to stop plastic surgery games aimed at children (?!).
Fact check everything you read and make sure you only share accurate news. Discredit fake news and prove it wrong. Support and share reputable material. Only the best. The very best. The greatest.
Basically, do what you can to keep the lights on for both the services that matter here in New Zealand. If you are able to: volunteer your time, money, fundraising ideas and advocacy to organisations in your area. Hold mufti days at school or run bake sales at work.
Which leads us to part two…
Action Station is a really good online hub for people to connect with specific issues, start and sign petitions, and have more voices heard. Spend 10 minutes having a trawl.
ALRANZ (Abortion Law Reform Association New Zealand) is your first stop for information and steps you can take to change Abortion Law in NZ. No foetus funerals in sight.
Amnesty International works tirelessly on a wide range of human rights issues including refugee welfare, the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and ending torture. You can get involved with as small an action as signing a petition or sending an email.
Child poverty Action Group is an independent charity working to eliminate child poverty in New Zealand through research, education and advocacy.
Dear Em is a place for young women to find a voice, support each other, recognise sexual harm and find ways to be stronger and more confident.
Disability Clothesline NZ has found a powerful, creative way to break the silence about violence and abuse experienced by disabled people in New Zealand.
Family Planning New Zealand provides a range of services including sexual and reproductive health information, clinical services, education, training and research. Also: free condoms on the counter.
Girl Guiding New Zealand is always in need of volunteers, and teaches young Kiwi women to encounter the world on their own terms.
HELP provides support services to sexual abuse and support survivors.
Islamic Women’s Council is a group formed to cater specifically to the needs, and support the empowerment of Muslim women around the country.
New Zealand Prostitute’s Collective advocates for the rights, health and well-being of all sex workers. Remember to include these women in your feminism, otherwise it’s not feminism.
Pacific Women’s Watch NZ was established to monitor the status of women in the Asia-Pacific Region, hosts interesting events and discussions.
The Auckland Women’s Centre runs a hell of a fundraiser night and provides affordable, quality welfare & support services, personal development educational opportunities and events.
The Human Rights Commission works for a free, fair, safe and just New Zealand, where diversity is valued and human dignity and rights are respected.
The Māori Women’s Welfare League (Te Rōpū Wāhine Māori Toko i te Ora) led by Prue Kapua is ensuring that Māori women’s voices are being heard.
The Ministry for Women (Minitatanga mō ngā Wāhine) exists to improve lives for New Zealand women. The Ministry is the Government’s principal advisor on achieving better results for women, and wider New Zealand.
The New Zealand Disability Support Network is a collection of organisations that work to provide support services for disabled people in New Zealand.
The National Council of Women New Zealand has been fighting the good fight for gender equality in New Zealand for 120 years. That’s longer than all the Hobbit films.
The Pay Equity Challenge is a coalition of community, employer, union & academic groups committed to keeping Pay Equity issues on the government’s agenda.
The Red Cross runs New Zealand’s refugee resettlement programme and is a hub for everything from donating quality used goods, to volunteering with new families, to linking refugees with employment opportunities.
RAW offers socially disadvantaged women a pathway forward to a different lifestyle through support and education.
Refugees as Survivors provides mental health support to refugees entering and resettling in New Zealand.
Rural Women New Zealand is a membership-based organisation which supports women in rural communities through learning opportunities, advocacy & connection.
Shakti New Zealand is devoted to the good health and well-being of New Zealand’s migrant and refugee communities through culturally competent services.
Shine is committed to ending domestic violence in New Zealand.
The Treat her Right campaign is going to kick off this year, because remember how the Equal Pay Act of 1972 still isn’t working? Been ages innit.
UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand work is to foster women’s empowerment and gender equality throughout the Pacific. Become a member and volunteer.
Wellington Rape Crisis provides support, advocacy, information and counselling services for women and gender minority survivors of rape and sexual abuse and their family and friends.
White Ribbon is an organisation that aims to end men’s violence towards women by encouraging men to lead by example and talk to other men.
Women’s Health Action is a social change organisation working to improve the health and wellbeing of women, their families, and communities. Their article about the “unfortunate experiment” at National Women’s Hospital led to the Cartwright Inquiry in the late ’80s.
Women’s Refuge NZ exist to help prevent and stop family violence in New Zealand. They offer education programmes and support services, information and safe housing to women, young people and children experiencing abuse.
YWCA New Zealand supports individual and community change by empowering young women. Also doesn’t have a pesky theme song.
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