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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world: indeed it's the only thing that ever has!"
— Margaret Mead
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What Can I Do?
6 Steps You Can Take to Help Close the Gap and Improve Health in America
1. Fight for JUSTICE to reduce the gap between rich and poor. A widening gap is not only detrimental for everyone’s health, but is associated with increased violence, decreased educational opportunities and outcomes, and more behavioral problems. Get involved locally and nationally. Work for justice to benefit the least advantaged in our society.
2. Advocate for SUPPORTING EARLY LIFE. Perhaps half of our health as adults is programmed in the first thousand days after conception. Healthier societies are those where this period is supported through paid pregnancy leave and paid leave for parents after birth.
3. Promote friendship and social CONNECTIONS in your family and community. Know and share with your neighbors. Communities where people trust and help one another tend to be healthier than places with less cooperation. Promote active communities with high participation and civic involvement among everyone.
4. Work to increase WOMEN’s status and opportunities in society.
Where women’s status is higher, everyone’s health is better. Coalitions of women working for social gains benefit all of us. Union membership is one way for women to improve their status.
5. Strive to end stressful, low-paid WORK. Having a sense of control in the workplace and at home decreases stress and is good for your health. We must improve working conditions for everyone.
6. JOIN the POPULATION HEALTH FORUM. Subscribe to our listserv or join us at our next meeting. We want to hear your ideas for making the world a healthier place. (Information about the listserv, meeting, and contacting us is to the left.)
Take Back Your Time Day is a nationwide initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities, and our environment.
Find other groups under the Links on the Resources page, and on the Actions to Take page.
International groups working for social justice
Third World Resurgence
New Internationalist magazine
International Workers Bulletin
International Action Center
Society for International Development SID is an international non-governmental network of individuals and organizations founded in 1957 to promote social justice and foster democratic participation. Through locally driven international programmes and activities, SID strengthens collective empowerment and facilitates dialogue and knowledge sharing worldwide. In addressing issues from a multisectoral perspective, the Society emphasizes systemic and long-term approaches with a central focus on social and institutional transformation.
span class="paragraphheader">Ideas for Activists
Get involved and organize. There is not that much you can do alone. If you think you can't much because you are small, you have never been in a bed under a mosquito net with a hungry mosquito.
The examples of activites below tend to relate to the United States of America, but they could apply elsewhere as well.
Call into radio talk shows and express ideas of what makes a population healthy
Discuss these ideas with school groups, such as parent-teacher associations
Speak about these ideas in the workplace, with other employees, with your union steward, with your doctor or caregiver
Write letters to the editor
Write articles for local newspapers
Call your elected representatives expressing concern for poor health outcomes and focussing on the structural reasons for poor health
Make formal presentations to church groups, community groups, your child's school class, labor meetings
Hand out leaflets or data sheets in town centers coinciding with news stories about structural changes that increase the hierarchy (for example, the repeal of the estate tax)
Arrange for speakers on these topics for conferences, meetings, and the like
Speak at political rallies
The following books are useful.
Alinsky, S. D. (1989). Rules for Radicals : A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals. New York, Vintage Books.
Lappé, F. M. and P. M. Du Bois (1994). The Quickening of America: Rebuilding our nation, Remaking our lives. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
Salzman, J. (1998). Making the News: A guide for Nonprofits and Activists. Boulder, Westview.
Shaw, R. (2001). The Activist's Handbook: A Primer, Updated Edition with a New Preface. Berkeley, University of California Press.
Wallack, L., K. Woodruff, et al. (1999). News for a change: an advocate's guide to working with the media. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage.