“In many countries, the #MeToo movement is not new. Instead, it has been fueled by years of local activism by courageous women leaders,” write Rachel Vogelstein and Meighan Stone in Awakening: #MeToo and the Global Fight for Women’s Rights. “Propelled by technology and driven by millions more women than ever before, the digital wave of the global women’s movement has the potential to fundamentally revolutionize gender roles—and transform the world we leave to the next generation,” write the authors.
Vogelstein, Douglas Dillon senior fellow and director of the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), served previously as director of policy and senior advisor in the Office of Global Women’s Issues within the Office of the Secretary of State. Stone is an adjunct fellow at CFR and formerly served as president of the Malala Fund.
The book investigates how women are pursuing change across cultures, profiling activists and leaders in seven countries: Brazil, China, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sweden, and Tunisia. “While the status of women and strength of the women’s movement in these geographically diverse countries vary considerably, together they offer a comprehensive snapshot of the promise and perils of the #MeToo campaign around the world,” the authors explain. “Awakening is a testament to these women’s stories, and to the promise of a new model of power.”
“For me, reading the stories of the women in Awakening is an inspiring experience—and a humbling one,” writes the founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, in the foreword. “This book shows that, around the world, we’ve come farther than ever before.”
Informed by the experiences of “visionary champions for gender equality—from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai”—the book proposes an agenda to safeguard the gains that have been made and to ensure that progress continues in the face of a rising backlash against these movements.” Furthermore, “without measures to address the persistent gender inequalities exposed and fueled by [COVID-19], women’s capacity to raise their voices—to march, organize, run for office, and demand change—undoubtedly will be compromised,” warn the authors.
They refer to the building blocks of this women’s power agenda as the “Five Rs”:
- “redress for those harmed by sexual harassment, abuse, and discrimination”;
- “legal reforms like a 2004 amendment to Tunisia’s penal code to criminalize sexual harassment”;
- “a call for women’s equal representation in all spheres”;
- “a fair allocation of resources”; and
- “a fundamental recalibration of the social norms and conventions that have allowed sexual abuse to go unchecked and inhibited women’s power in the public and private spheres.”
The authors emphasize that “achieving this agenda will require leadership at the global, multilateral, local, and individual levels—and sustained collective action by activists to ensure progress and accountability.”
Praise for Awakening:
“Awakening goes where no book has gone before, taking readers on a journey around the world in a powerful exploration of the most widespread cultural reckoning around women’s rights in history. In chronicling the global impact of the #MeToo movement, Stone and Vogelstein capture the speed and scale of women-led organizing in the digital age, as well as the social, economic, and legal progress that’s possible when we come together to demand change. Inspiring, insightful, and profoundly moving, this book is a must-read for women and men alike.”—Hillary Rodham Clinton
“Awakening champions the stories of women from Nigeria to Pakistan fighting for equality in schools, workplaces, courts, and government. Through their reporting and research, Stone and Vogelstein bring us closer to a new generation of women who are using digital activism to achieve change.”—Malala Yousafzai
“Awakening is a must-read for anyone thinking about the social and political consequences of #MeToo. This book provides critical insight into the movement’s global impact and the future of equality for women around the world.”—Soraya Chemaly
“Dynamically told and sharply written, Awakening is the global #MeToo book we’ve been waiting for. This connective, powerful book widens the frame and pans away from the U.S., transporting readers over borders and across cultures so we can see what women fighting for freedom everywhere have long known: that stories are world-changing and sisterhood is powerful.”—Jill Filipovic
Read more about Awakening and order your copy at cfr.org/book/awakening.