By Danny Brown, Outgoing Media/Communications Intern for eA
Hi, how’s it going? My name is Danny Brown, and I am finishing up my work with emBOLDen Alliances (eA) as the Media/Communications Intern. Over the past eight months, I have created many of our social media posts and monthly newsletters, amongst other things. It is great to have been part of this incredible organization!
As for my formal education, I just graduated from the University of Denver this past June! I finished my BA in Media Studies with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies.
Left: Me shaking hands with the University of Denver Chancellor during the commencement ceremony.
Because I have been posting for months with the eA mission in mind, I wanted to share my personal connection to it and why I remain passionate about eA.
I was attracted to eA specifically for the community-first model we embody. To me, it is the essence of eA and the emBOLDen Movement.
I aligned with the eA mission because of the experience I had studying gender. Prior to my time with eA, I had never been exposed to any sort of humanitarian assistance work. But it was through one big lesson I learned in studying gender that translated into my deep alignment with eA.
Once I began studying gender, I quickly became passionate for gender equality. As I currently understand it, gender equality is largely about the empowerment of women and other historically marginalized gender groups.
In other words, the current priorities of gender equality are those of the marginalized groups. Women and gender-queer people are the groups whose issues need to be given priority right now.
That idea of who gets priority within gender equality was not something that I grasped onto right away. “Equality is equality,” I thought. “If we want gender equality, then the priorities of everyone should be equal,” I thought. I would eventually come to a deeper understanding of gender equality and change my mind.
Early on in my path of gender equality, I was actually shunned by a women’s rights student group on campus for an idea that I had. My idea was to change the organization’s name to make it gender neutral (from Women’s Council to Gender Council). The group felt disrespected by my idea.
It was mind-boggling to me that they felt disrespected by me. After all, I was at the meeting because I believed in gender equality. I was one of the few men at the meeting.
They told me that they felt disrespected by me because of my resistance to prioritizing women – that because of how society has privileged men for so long, gender equality required prioritizing women for some time.
It took some time for me to realize that if I really wanted to strive for gender equality, I needed to prioritize women’s empowerment.
“It was a lesson for my own ego.”
I needed to be humbled a bit. I needed to be okay with being on the periphery of a movement. It was a lesson for my own ego.
A similar line of thinking is how I fit into the emBOLDen Movement.
As defined by the eA mission statement, we work to “improve the lives of vulnerable communities through collaborative partnerships that embolden the quality and impact of service.” We promise to our partners to always listen to them, to meet them where they are, to deliver individualized guidance, to assist with hands-on support, and to prepare them to be self-sufficient and sustain their impact.
We don’t authoritatively tell partners that they need to do this or that. We work to emBOLDen community organizations the humble way – by listening, by prioritizing their needs as defined by themselves, and by playing a supportive role.
What I learned is that it’s not just enough to believe in human rights or gender equality. To enact these ideals into the world requires a certain approach.
“eA embodies humility and respect for others.”
The eA mission positions us on the periphery of these organizations we are serving to emBOLDen. We prioritize our partners’ needs first. eA embodies humility and respect for others.
It was that same humility and respect that I needed to embody for women’s empowerment in order to truly be a champion for gender equality.
The values that I gained in learning to be a champion for gender equality seamlessly translated into me aligning with eA.
I am so proud to work for this organization that empowers communities in the way that I feel is necessary. Although my internship is now finished, I am leaving with the knowledge that I have helped move the world towards something profound.