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  • Writer's pictureCaterina Sullivan

Social Groups: How to Address the Divide

Updated: Nov 3, 2018

Image credit: art about

People often ask if I find my work more difficult given who I am as a person.

“As a young person, do you find it difficult to get respect from people?”

“As a woman, do you find males do not listen to your opinion?”

I’ve even had “As a blonde, do you find people don’t listen to you straight away?”

These questions I find slightly amusing – mostly because I don’t see myself ‘as a young person’, ‘as a woman’ or ‘as a blonde’. I see myself as me – Caterina Sullivan. While yes, both my sex and gender are female, my age youthful and my hair blonde, these don’t define the extent of who I am or the extent of my capabilities.

There is a growing trend to distinguish people by different statuses: age, sex, gender, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, economic status, sexual orientation… even hair colour… and the list goes on.

What does this have to do with the Global Goals?

It is time to address this divide between these statuses in order to achieve the goals.

While there is nothing wrong with being proud about being young, being a woman or being a blonde, it is important to not let these define who we are, or are not, as people.

So how does we address this divide?

The key is to ensure our status is not limiting us. For example, if joining a youth group, it is important that the youth group in question does not only work with other youth but with a range of different people.

Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign is a fantastic example of this. As a woman (I know, I know, I said it), she is engaging males in the important movement for Goal 5: Gender Equality.

Here are some ways you can follow Emma’s lead and look at how we can address the divide!

Discover who you are

As free-thinking as this sounds, this is the first way to address the divide. Once you have a strong understanding of who you are without your ‘statuses’, then you can build on this.

Look for groups who work with others

As stated above, one of the most important steps to address the divide is to become associated with groups who work with groups of other statuses. While there is a lot of power in youth and from Monday, we know that young people are crucial for the achievement of the Global Goals, there is still a lot young people can learn from older generations. This means it is important to ensure there are older speakers coming to your youth group, male speakers coming to your female network, non-immigrant speaks coming to your immigrant support group.

Diversify your network

It is very often that I speak to young people who believe all adults think alike, women who believe all men think alike, conservatives who believe all liberals think alike… Diversifying your network is so important to ensure you are not getting a limited view of the world as this widens the divide between people of different statuses. People who are weary of immigrants are quite often surprised when they develop a friendship with an immigrant to find out that the majority of immigrants do not fit the negative profile that is sometimes painted for them.

Read opinions of other people

Sometimes it takes just a little bit of reading. The only way your opinions will ever develop is if you challenge them. You may read an article, a book, a blog post and have your opinion challenge; your opinion may then change, or it may become more strongly engrained. Either way, this is a fantastic way to address the divide.

Put yourself in other’s shoes

As a male (there I go again), you may think women don’t have it as difficult as is sometimes made out to be. As a woman, you may think men don’t have challenges to face of their own. By putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, you may find that what you thought to be the case about someone else isn’t actually the case at all.

Don’t always constrain who you are based on your status

This circles back to the very first point I made about me being me – not just a young, blonde woman. As important as it is that we are each proud of what makes us a person, it is most important that we are each proud of who we are as people.

This article was originally published on the Global Goals Australia Campaign website.


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