What would you change to achieve gender equality?

To celebrate International Women's Day, CNN asked women around the world, "What single thing they would change to achieve gender equality where they are?"

Posted: Mar 11, 2018 11:18 AM
Updated: Mar 11, 2018 11:18 AM

To celebrate International Women's Day, CNN asked women around the world, "What single thing would you change to improve gender equality where you are?"

Celebrities, athletes, politicians, businesswomen and activists joined in the conversation, with the overarching answer being education. From Iraq to India to Puerto Rico, women said gender equality begins with educating both boys and girls about equal rights and providing them the same opportunities to succeed. Many said quotas may be the way forward.

The theme of 2018's Women's Day is #PressforProgress, following a remarkable year that's seen the rise of the #MeToo movement, #TimesUp, and women's marches all over the world.

Here are some of the responses:

Ashley Graham, model

"Honestly, to improve gender equality, we need to ensure that women see themselves portrayed -- all women see themselves portrayed -- in media, fashion, beauty and beyond."

Bob Bland, co-founder of the Women's March

"If there's one single thing that I would change to improve gender equality where I am, it would be to listen to women. Most people in America do not really listen to each other when they're talking and particularly for women, we have trouble being believed. We have trouble having our voices uplifted. We have trouble having our stories out there. And so, I would just encourage everyone in America to take some time to think when a woman is talking and really listen and believe her."

Caitlyn Jenner, TV personality

"My path to womanhood was very different and through that process I feel like I learned a lot about women. Women are brought up to kind of be a second-class citizen. Emotionally weaker. Physically weaker. I've always been inspired by strong women. And in particular, both by daughters: Kendall and Kylie."

Namita Gokhale, writer and publisher, India

"On women's day I want to say that I believe in the equal dignity of men, women and all the genders in between. We are the human species and we have to take responsibility for other people's dignity as well as ours. Having said that, I think for women the way to change things is by giving up on this futile sense of guilt that has been inbred into women across societies, across cultures -- and we always have this image of what we are supposed to do or what we are supposed to be."

Diane Von Furstenberg, fashion designer

"Well, first of all, I think that when you do a job application, you should not have to say your sex."

Andra Day, singer

"I always say it starts with people's perception. You know what I mean. So, you know one of the things I always say is that as woman, it starts when communities come together. They value themselves. They value each other... We have to force people for equal pay. We have to, you know, force people for justice when we experience, you know, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse. So, we as a community come together and we kind of push that agenda."

Dee Rees, screenwriter and director

"I think it would be that men get asked these same questions on the carpet. As women, we're constantly asked to interrogate our gender and men aren't. So, we are constantly talking about what it means to be a woman, but men need to really interrogate and talk about what it means to be a man, because it's that self-reflection that will lead to a broader conversation."

Jessie Diggins, Olympic gold medalist in cross-country skiing

"We have been so fortunate to have total equal footing with the men in our sport. And we're recognized not for what we do, but what we have achieved. We're given the same funding. We're given the same prize money. We're given the same opportunities, and we're given the same coaching. And we train the same as the men, too. And we train alongside them. So, we are so fortunate to have that and I really hope that other sports are able to have that as well.

Kikkan Randall, Olympic gold medalist in cross-country skiing

"We've really gotten to see the impact that our team can have as role models on all those out there. We do a lot of work with this organization -- Fast and Female -- where we really try to show girls that they can be involved in sports. They can still be girly. But they can be strong and successful and self-confident in whatever their dreams are. Our men's team is also doing an incredible job going out and inspiring ski communities around the country. And we've really just seen that by keeping everyone involved in sport and working together, you can have a lot of fun and we can chase our dreams."

Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico

"The one thing I would do to change gender equality or improve gender equality is to ensure that all of our education is gender-equality based. In San Juan, we have started teaching people in that way so we've taught all of our teachers that if you talk about a female doctor, you talk about a male doctor. If you're going to talk about a male artist you're also going to talk about a female artist. So that young girls and young women have role models that they can look up to, so that they know we rock!"

Maysoon al-Damluji, Iraqi member of Parliament

"If there is a single issue that I would choose it would be education, education and further education. I would like to see the day when a woman for instance would be the head of a tribal chieftan. So far it is very much a man orientated society and it is time that the wise cape of a woman took over the chieftan of a tribe."

Christiane Amanpour, anchor and chief international correspondent

It's a woman and man thing. And I believe it's a tipping point. So, I think this year, everyone can celebrate with real gusto and carry this movement on forward."

Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker, founder of Webby Awards & 50/50 day

"I think the single thing that's going to help us get there is quotas. You can call them inclusivity riders, whatever you want to call holding companies and governments accountable to get to true gender equity. And countries across Europe have been doing it and we're behind, so let's accelerate that pace of change."

Live #AsEquals

Margaret Cho, actress and comedian

"We can have gender equality by having gender equality. It's not that hard to have gender equality."

Sheryl Crow, singer

"One change I would love to see to advance equality for women, which is so ridiculous, but here in Nashville, what I would love is to hear women on country radio."

Tzipi Livni, former Israeli foreign minister

"I think basically it's about the way we feel. And this is a combination in a way of Obama and Nike. Just do it. Yes we can. It's the need for every woman to understand that we can do it. That we have this inner strength. That nobody can say to us that we can't. And having different women working together is something that really strengthened me during the campaign and I hope by making my decision I give also strength to other women."

Muzoon Almellehan, Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, Syria

"I want to convince everyone to fight for women's rights, especially men. As we want to see more men as feminist and that's the only way that we can achieve gender equality."

Mpumi Nobiva, Oprah Winfrey mentee, South Africa

"Just creating a space where we can even talk about the things that we go through is dynamic, it's powerful and it's transformative. So that's what I would encourage people who are watching this video to do, is to always create an inviting space for more and more women to open up about their truths."

Gretchen Carlson, former Fox News anchor

"Since jumping off a cliff 20 months ago and filing my sexual harassment lawsuit, I've been working diligently to change the laws on Capitol Hill to take arbitration clauses out of employment contracts"

Karuna Nundy, lawyer and activist, India

"If there was only one could change I could make I would make sure that there was 50% of the places, seats for judges on the Supreme Court were for women, because I think that would have a major effect down the line. Not only in terms of the jurisprudence of our courts but because you bring various perspectives then into the decisions that you make, but also, honestly whenever we've had a brilliant woman judge on the court, it's had a positive, halo effect on the rest of us because then they believe women can be brilliant."

Ghada Saba, film director, Jordan

"The one change I would make is to educate girls and create an equal opportunity society. To equalize education opportunities and work opportunities and the right to freedom of choice"

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