Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year Award was given to a man this year. His name is Bono — lead singer of the well-known rock band U2 and major advocate for feminism and women’s equal rights worldwide. On the surface this decision may seem like a step backward for women’s empowerment, but in reality it’s not. Glamour Magazine’s decision is a step forward for feminism and women’s rights, as it also accepts and acknowledges men’s efforts to help women achieve equality.
You may be asking yourself what exactly Bono did to achieve recognition for this award. For starters, he is a co-founder and board member of ONE, an international campaigning and advocacy organization consisting of more than seven million people around the world taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Bono’s campaign motivated world leaders to donate an additional $13 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which will help save the lives of millions of women and babies. He has also focused globally on women’s inequality by establishing Poverty Is Sexist, a campaign which argues that poverty and gender inequality are synonymous in poor and underdeveloped countries. Through his work, Bono is making it clear that powerful men can, and should, take on these deep-rooted issues.
In ONE’s extensive report on the continued disempowerment and unfairness in global society toward women, the persistent message is that it’s harder for women to achieve anything socially, economically and politically, and that needs to change now. Progress has been made in 2015 by the campaign, which brought focus of the UN’s Addis Ababa Action Agenda to prioritize aid and change for poorer areas and women in developing countries.
As is stated on Glamour’s Women of the Year page, “When a major male rock star who could do anything at all with his life decides to focus on the rights of women and girls worldwide — well, all that’s worth celebrating.” This award nominates several candidates every year and for the first time, a man will stand among other inspiring women. Other winners of this year’s award include: Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi — the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, Christine Lagarde — first female finance minister of France and first female managing director of the International Monetary Fund — and Nadia Murad — who was tortured by IS and survived, and she is trying to bring IS to justice at the International Criminal Court, to name a few.
Recognizing the efforts of any man or woman who fights for women’s equality around the world is a breakthrough decision that also subverts a common misconception about feminism. Feminism is not about “man hating” or putting men down, it’s about uplifting and empowering women. Bono has managed to grab the attention of world leaders to help bring women around the globe equal rights. He has earned the right to stand shoulder to shoulder with other great women for this award.
If the purpose of the Women of the Year Award is to celebrate inspiring women and their achievements each year, then it definitely would be confusing and upsetting to realize a white male was getting the award. That would be completely absurd. But since the Women of the Year Award is given to celebrate the achievements and progression of women as a whole, a man achieving the award for furthering that goal makes more sense.
It is awesome that Bono was able to win this award for his achievements for women’s equality across the globe last year. Achieving equality for women everywhere is inevitable, and accepting and acknowledging men’s help in achieving that end is important. As recent history has shown the gender gap becoming smaller, it is still not gone, and allowing men to help women globally achieve the equal social, political and economic status that is rightfully theirs will help a great deal.