Millennials Matter for Gender Equality

Partners: Woodcock Foundation, Hattaway Communications, Make It Work Campaign, Rockefeller Family Fund, UltraViolet, Spark

Problem:  Outdated narrative with low appeal to new generations The movement for gender equality has achieved many successes throughout history, and with time and progress, the issues most pertinent and relevant to women’s lives have changed.  However, the narrative of the movement has not changed at the same pace, which has created the perception for many that the women’s agenda has already been achieved.  While there are plenty of examples of young people who are actively engaged in the women’s movement, many members of the millennial generation do not feel that gender inequality is still a problem in the U.S., and as a result, they pay little attention to it and do not support related causes.  Without increased millennial participation in the movement, the plethora of organizations working to advance gender equality stand to miss out on financial and intellectual support, leadership, and political power over the next few decades.  In order to gain that support, the movement needs a new narrative that reflects present-day challenges and resonates with millennials.

VisionEngaged millennials for greater movement capacity  We envision a world in which every millennial participates in the movement for gender equality, both by understanding the problems that still lead to inequality today and by engaging in causes working to solve those problems.   A world with full millennial participation will lead to a vastly increased pool of resources to support organizations and leaders working to create a more equitable world, which will in turn lead to a world with true gender equality.

Project: Increase organizational capacity to communicate with millennials  Working with Hattaway Communications, gender equality thought leaders, and millennials, Woodcock has both funded and conducted its own research to develop strategies for engaging millennials in gender equality causes.  Research has include a landscape of the gender equality field, ethnographic interviews to understand millennial attitudes toward social change and gender equality, workshops and focus groups to hone in on engagement strategies, and additional interviews to identify entry points and perceptions of specific gender equality issues.   Several reports and tools have been developed in the course of our work, including Guiding Principles for communicating with millennials and Motivational Profiles for engaging different personality types. In 2014, the project scope narrowed to focus on economic justice for women, an issue area which has been identified as important millennials, is relevant due to today’s economic climate, and is anticipated to be salient in the 2016 election.  Woodcock is dedicating resources toward improving the capacity of organizations working toward women’s economic justice to reach and engage millennials.  We are partnering with the Make It Work Campaign and the Rockefeller Family Fund to develop and disseminate communications strategies and message guidance, build capacity in the field, and encourage a learning community through which organizations can share best practices for communications targeting millennials.  We are also supporting the efforts of UltraViolet to test new ideas in rapid-response communications related to economic justice and the efforts of Spark to build the next generation of Millennial leaders and advocates for gender equality. Woodcock would love to hear from anyone who would like to join us in this critical effort.