YouTubers Join the UN as Goodwill Ambassadors for Gender Equality

by March 9, 2016
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Seven of YouTube’s most influential female creators have been recruited by the United Nations as Change Ambassadors for Gender Equality. These women from all over the globe will produce videos discussing the need for gender equality over the next year.

Gender equality is one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, developed in September 2015. The UN hopes to achieve gender equality, along with other goals including ending poverty and hunger worldwide, in the next 15 years. You can read about all 17 goals here.

In addition to gender equality being a fundamental human right, the UN says, “Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.”

The Change Ambassadors include Ingrid Nilsen and Jackie Aina from the United States, Yuya from Mexico, Taty Ferreira from Brazil, Hayla Ghazal from the United Arab Emirates, Louise Pentland from the United Kingdom, and Chika Yoshida from Japan. Altogether, the women have a combined subscriber count of nearly 23 million, giving them an incredibly large audience to reach on the topic of gender equality.

Check out Louise’s most recent video here to learn more about the process of being chosen as a Change Ambassador. In the video, you can see a small clip of Louise introducing herself to a panel of her fellow ambassadors and explaining that she dreams of a more equal world for her daughter Darcy. She also believes strongly in “women feeling good from the inside, regardless of size or race or sexuality or any of those things we are often labeled with.”

Yesterday, on International Women’s Day, Ingrid Nilsen released the video below — her first video as a Change Ambassador. Ingrid explains the she and her fellow ambassadors spent two days at the UN in New York City discussing the areas they believe their countries need improvement in terms of gender equality.

“My response was, I really like to focus on issues that we encounter every single day that might be right under our noses, but no one is really batting an eye at them,” Ingrid says, referring to the ‘tampon tax’ as an example of a daily issue. “And an area where I think we’re really falling short in the United States is with our public bathrooms.”

As Ingrid says, using the bathroom is a basic human need, regardless of gender. When you consider the fact that every single person needs to use the bathroom for the same purpose, segregating bathrooms for men and women starts to seem a bit strange. But now, consider what using the bathroom is like if you don’t identify as a man or a woman — which door are our non-binary or gender non-conforming friends supposed to enter? And what about trans folks? Using a public restroom as a trans person can be a nerve-wracking and sometimes dangerous experience, depending on who is inside.

Plus, bathroom signs perpetuate gender norms. Our image of a woman is defined by her triangular dress, while the man wears pants. Meanwhile, family restrooms are designated with signs depicting a ‘traditional’ heterosexual family with a mother and a father.

Ingrid encourages viewers to keep their eyes peeled and notice how gendered bathrooms and their signs affect gender equality each and every day. She even challenges the YouTube space and the UN to make their bathroom signs gender neutral.

Use the hashtag #roomforeveryone to post your own design for an all-inclusive bathroom sign, or to post a photo of a gendered sign at a location near you and let that location know that you want them to work harder toward gender equality for all. After all, gender inclusive bathrooms will help trans and non-binary folks to feel more safe, as well as people with disabilities who require attendants or parents with small children of a different gender. Ingrid has been practicing what she preaches over on her snapchat (@ingrid.nilsen) by calling out local establishments on their gendered bathroom signage. As Ingrid says, “We can do better!”

Be sure to check out all seven Change Ambassadors for Gender Equality, and let us know which of their videos is your favorite so far in the comments below!

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