3 Things I Learned From Attending a Women’s Event

Twitter Public Policy recently hosted a #PositionOfStrength event in its NYC office. Twitter defines this program as

our homegrown safety and empowerment program for women. This global initiative aims to harness the voices of women on our platform and encourage them to speak out online from a #PositionOfStrength.

The major reason I went to law school was to get involved in women’s rights. Yet, since graduation, I haven’t been able to do much, if anything, within that realm. And so, I eagerly anticipated this event. Here are three things I learned from it.

1. Women are fine with men working in these initiatives.

I walked into the room and was greeted by an audience of intelligent, sharp, inspirational women. There’s a stereotype that a group of women like this must be extremist feminists who want nothing to do with men and will balk at any man who tries to help. Let’s squash this stereotype. There may be some like that, but the somes are in every group.

Yes, I was the only male at this event. And yes, I felt uncomfortable. And sure, people asked me what I was doing there. So I told them, “I’m here to learn how I can help make a better space for women.”

I’m so glad I felt that level of uncomfortableness. It only made me realize how uncomfortable women must feel when they’re the only woman in a boardroom or office or class full of men. But, as the conversations flowed and ideas were shared, that level of uncomfortability faded away as our similar goals united us.

2. Women in tech are doing amazing work.

“I advise victims that it’s not their fault. No one has the right to make you feel less than you are.” @carla_franklin

I’m well aware that women get massive abuse thrown at them on the internet. I’m also well aware that there are women in tech. I never went out of my way to find out what they’ve done. I learned of two awesome resources created by women.

  1. Circle of 6, created by Nancy Schwartzman — 
    From their Facebook page: “Circle of 6 is a mobile app that makes it quick and easy to reach your circle and let them know where you are, and what you need. It’s a fast, easy-to-use and secure way to look out for each other.”
  2. Heartmob, founded by Emily May
    From their Facebook page: “HeartMob is a platform that provides real-time support to individuals experiencing online harassment — and gives bystanders concrete actions they can take to step in and save the day.” A group of people on the internet working to create a positive community? Who’da thunk! I signed up for this and am excited to help others out.

3. Women are powerful.

“When I see you in a #PositionOfStrength, it makes me feel stronger.” — jamiaw

This event was not a gripe session of how bad women have it, how awful men are, or let’s compare digital abuse scars. It was a proactive event that showed women how to mute/block the trolls, how to use social media to empower your voice, and how to grow stronger together. Because, let’s face it, many people try to go the route of individualism, but humanity thrives when we collaborate as a community.

As a Muslim guy, I know there is a lot of rhetoric saying that Islam is a mysognistic faith (it’s not). That’s why I’m happy to work with over a dozen awesome women for our True Islam and the Extremists campaign. This campaign uses 11 points to dismantle extremist ideology. Point number 3 is that Islam believes in the equality, education, and empowerment of women. These women have been tireless in their efforts to promote what their faith is all about and, honestly, more than just Islam empowering them, their work is empowering me! Check out what they’re doing on Twitter and Facebook.

Follow the hashtag #PositionOfStrength and join the conversation.

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