For more than 100 years, people around the world have been striking, protesting and marching in support of women’s rights every March 8, on what is now recognized by the United Nations as International Women’s Day. And on this day, I’m reminded of the heartbreaking story of Madonna Badger, and how she chooses to “fight with hope and love.”
I first learned of Madonna when she spoke at The 3% Conference last year. When she took the stage, I expected her to impart wisdom gained from her life as a creative director and the founding of her agency, Badger & Winters. Instead, she opened her heart and shared her story of unfathomable tragedy. In the early hours of Christmas Day 2011, Madonna’s parents and her three little girls − Lily, Sarah and Grace − died in a house fire. Madonna was also in the home at the time; she wasn’t able to save her family.
After enduring a year of devastating depression, grief and survivor’s guilt, she emerged with a new purpose. She would use her considerable talents and voice to make the world better for women and girls. She would do this in honor of her daughters, and in the hope of making the impact she knew her girls would have made had they lived to fulfill their potential. The #WomenNotObjects campaign was born.
The mission of #WomenNotObjects is to end the objectification of women in advertising and support brands that empower women. Hundreds of years of systematic privilege, fear and prejudice have shaped society to hamper the rights, dignities and personal freedoms of women, minorities and anyone thought to be “other.” Today, objectifying and stereotyping in marketing are a couple of the more subtle ways in which these discriminatory ideas are perpetuated. These harmful messages, often cloaked as “art” or locker room humor, threaten to undermine the gains we’ve made toward true equality and, in doing so, weaken our society.
I’m very proud that we don’t do the kind of work that objectifies or stereotypes. We use our voices and talents to influence and move legislation, to inspire movements, and to create positive experiences. We know the impact our work and service can have on individuals, communities and culture. And so, let us support and spread the mission of #WomenNotObjects and continue to use our talents to fight with hope and love.