A Story Behind Success, a Success Behind an Idea

Have you ever wondered how an idea can gather supporters around it? Here is a story of #HEFORSHE campaign and it’s architect Gerardo Porteny Backal. Youth Time contributor Grese Sermaxhaj met Mr. Backal in the USA while he was presenting his project “Young Man for Gender Equality” to students.

I am going to start this interview with one interesting short story. A week ago a guy from Pakistan added me on Facebook and said that he saw my picture at ‘he for she’ Facebook page and also started to support this campaign from Pakistan, he wanted to know more about it. So, someone from south Asia contacts someone from western Balkan thanks to the job you have done. How it feels to have such a big impact?

Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story and I most acknowledge that this great success does not mainly rely on the work that we were able to do on campaign headquarters, but more than that by the support that we get from people like you Gresë, actively sharing, engaging and supporting a solidarity movement for gender equality.

Which was your main goal when you started the project of HE FOR SHE or gender equality in general? And did you find it hard to find supporters? 

Our goal is ambitious but it is certainly not mission impossible: To achieve full gender equality by 2030 this will involve equal pay and economic opportunity, equal political participation and representation, and equal role in the peace building tables and the eradication of all violence against women and girls. Thankfully as soon as we rolled out the campaign we had a billion or so supporters and I believe that this is because everyone can relate and understand that by achieving gender equality we all win, women and men.

What would you advice all the young people who might be out there with great aims but struggling with different challenges?

There is not only gender inequality but also age inequality, I have seen youth from around the world struggle to achieve their dreams, but any obstacle should be used as motivation, as we prove every day through actions that we are the generation of the future, but the future starts now!

Can you please share with us one previous interesting story or experience? 

The way I got in contact with UN Women was just astonishing, as you know I am the president of a unique NGO called Young Men for Gender Equality, and we utilize social media as our medium for international communication. Around International Women’s Day in 2014 I remember seeing in my tweeter feed a trending topic called #HeForShe and I decided to communicate with the woman that was leading it Ms. Elizabeth Nyamayaro, I extended my support without expecting an answer. But she actually answered through twitter immediately and that was followed by a phone call and a Invitation to come to NY and discuss a partnership between UN Women and Young Men for Gender Equality, and when I came I never imagine that I would actually end up working with them as the consultant for global youth engagement, but it happened and that shows the power that a 19 year old young man has through expressing a positive opinion through social media and being proactive for social change.

How has it affected your personal way of living?

Every day I remind myself how privileged I am to be leaving this experience and representing so many other voices, but this privilege comes with a social responsibility of doing as much as I can possibly do to attain full gender equality, and every day I embrace this mission which will not end until we have jointly fully achieved this human imperative.

At the end of the interview I understood how much we can achieve by supporting each other. Behind every success is a story, and behind every story is an idea! An idea which may start small, become and remain big!

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