Christine Rose is changing the narrative on sexual violence against women in America
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This story was originally shared on #EqualEverywhere — a campaign to champion the changemakers working to make equality for girls and women a reality. You can find the original story here.

Christine T. Rose is founder and CEO of Christine Rose Coaching & Consulting, a boutique coaching firm in the greater Seattle area dedicated to facilitating and accelerating transformation for individuals and organizations. The firm has helped business leaders grow their leadership skills, teams, and companies since 2015. Christine's book, Life Beyond #MeToo: Creating a Safer World for our Mothers, Daughters, Sisters and Friends, lays out a vision for freedom from violence and discrimination and offers tools for taking action to change the world.

Why do you advocate for equal rights for girls and women?

I grew up in a home with three sexual abusers. My early life was traumatic. In fact, I've forgotten much of my childhood and made some very poor decisions about relationships with men as a result. I've spent years working with counselors and coaches, reclaiming my life and rebuilding on the ashes of past abuse. I also have experienced workplace sexual harassment. I've volunteered and coached and worked with countless girls and women who have shared stories of harassment, abuse, and violence. I have felt the call to use what I know about coaching to help others who have faced similar challenges. Even recently, since press releases about the book have gone out, I've been subjected to online sexual harassment from people I've never met. It's an epidemic which needs immediate attention around the world.


I wrote about this subject in my Life Beyond #MeToo book because we live in a world that is unsafe and unjust, where girls and women are not treated equally but are objectified and abused — where one third will be victims of violence and more are harassed. I believe it is past time for this old normal to end. It is time for a new normal where girls and women are honored and valued — not only for who they are, but also for the unique gifts and talents they bring to the world. The world has nothing to lose and everything to gain from working together to create this new normal.

What does #EqualEverywhere mean to you?

I dream of a new normal where all people are respected and honored for their unique gifts and have equal opportunities to live and learn and grow and earn and lead, while they contribute their brilliance to the world.

What motivates you to do this work?

The silence of millions of girls who were not born due to gender discrimination, the silence of countless more who endure harassment and abuse daily, and the outcry of those who dare to raise their voices against injustice is more than enough motivation for me and for the entire human race to engage in creating a new normal.

What are the main challenges you experience in your work to advance gender equality?

Like most who are engaged in work to advance gender equality, I am under resourced — one small voice in a community that deserves more attention. I write about some of the obstacles to change in my book.

What progress are you seeing as a result of your work?

Life Beyond #MeToo reached #1 in Amazon.com's new release in the Workplace Behavior category the day it launched and is receiving five star reviews. Men and women are saying "I get it now." I'm very encouraged that people are recognizing that we all need to engage to create the kind of culture change it will take to make gender equity a reality.

What progress are you seeing in the wider gender equality movement?

I believe silos are breaking down and diverse groups and people are coming together to do the work that will allow for norms to shift. As a result, more ideas and knowledge are spreading to raise awareness and to advance change. The #MeToo movement created an unprecedented opportunity for open conversations about gender equality. The world is seeing small shifts in how women are treated, and I write about some of these in my book.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by Tod Perry

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