“Tell stories that make it difficult to silence people.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In the three days I spent working as an SI NFGL reporter at the Stockholm Gender Equality Forum, I met and was amazed by hundreds of feminism activists from over a hundred countries who have been fighting a better presence and future of girls and women.
I feel committed. I feel enlightened. I feel inspired. I feel the change is close. I feel our fight is winning.
I shouldn’t feel a void but I did.
The more I saw of the world, the more I miss my people. I miss the Vietnamese women working on the rice field, the Vietnamese housewives making their home, the Vietnamese colleagues advocating for human rights, and I miss the Vietnamese young journalists who have been abused, sexually harassed at work. I miss their voice.
At one point, Swedish foreign affairs minister Margot Wallström yelled out “Yalla forward!”, joining the global and local movement for Arabic-speaking women.
Her line speaks to me but would her line speaks to Vietnamese speaking women?
Since my arrival in Sweden, I tend to forget how much I struggled to say the word “feminism” in Vietnamese because we simply didn’t have it constituted in our vocabulary.
Ha-An at the Stockholm Gender Equality Forum.
I have become privileged. I have the tools, the language, the foundation, and the policies to empower me in our fight for gender equality. I realise my own responsibility, in this communication career path, for there must be a better communication going on cross sections, cross interests, cross genders, to mobilise resources that we can utilise and build upon as the foundation of our feminist movement.
I will also take the opportunity to rectify the media narratives, to use communication to unmute voices that were once silenced. I find myself dreaming of Vietnamese women representing our country, our South East Asian countries, what will they say? Something similar to this, I bet: Be genuinely inclusive.
Being women, we have witnessed how the world has failed half of its population and we vow not to let it fail again. We have the pride of being a woman as men having the pride being a man. We also know the pain of being a woman, and we believe no one else should know the pain being the gender they are born with.
To build a stronger, smarter, healthier world, we need the involvement of both genders, all sexualities, all races, all ethnicities, all classes, you and me, we and they.
Speak the local language. Meaning that we speak to the problems, the concerns, the context, the benefit of the local people’s own. Only by doing so, our activism can last along the life of the local people, and thus have the intimate impact on their community.
Every single story matters because, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
So speak up, participate and change our own stories.