To anyone who feels like they don’t have a voice;
I cried when I came home. I was glad to see my family of course, glad to see my bed and my dogs. But I was heartbroken that the Girls Philanthropy Conference at Bryn Mawr was over. For three fast days, I was filled with purpose and excitedness for life. I feel asleep and woke up with the knowledge that today, I was doing something useful, that today, I would learn, discuss, brainstorm, and debate exactly how to make a difference for girls in my community. Surrounded by like minded people, who are active and intelligent, and most importantly, not shy, the world seemed to be full of possibility. A whole year of school couldn’t have taught me the leadership skills I came away with from Bryn Mawr. My heart broke when the trip was over.
But I stopped crying almost instantly. I realized that the leaders of the Girls Grant Conference had given me a gift, full of empowerment and action. The voice I developed at Bryn Mawr will never disappear. The whole point of the trip was to teach us girls how to use these gifts of lessons and knowledge. I became immensely more grateful to attend an all-girls school, who finally started a REBEL program. When my women-filled exercise class played extremely misogynistic music, I asked the instructor to change it. I don’t know if they did, but at least they know it bothers people.
Most importantly, the Girls Grant conference in Philadelphia, made not just one, but at least 20 girls more aware of the challenges women face in both our individual communities and as a nation. The empowerment of women should be the nation’s forefront issue in a country where 51% of the population is represented by 17% in Congress, 65% of women and girls suffer with some type of eating disorder, and women’s reproductive rights are not respected by our male-dominated government.
Right now the once clear-cut identities of men and women are changing. In the US, only 17% of women are traditional stay-at-home moms, while the stay-at-home dad is becoming more common. Women are advancing in the workforce while men lose their jobs. Yet at the same time, rape’s legitimacy is being questioned and Saudi-Arabia’s first women in the Olympics are being threatened with death at home. Raunch feminism is blossoming in the Western world while at the same time, girls are becoming more insecure because of the media.
Whether these changes are retreating back into cavemen times or becoming more positive, change is happening now. Women and girls must have the empowerment to decide what their roles in the future will be. And that empowerment starts with us, the girls and women who partake in everything from philanthropy to advocacy, from Philadelphia to Kansas City to Tucson, we are the voice of change that the world must hear.