For as long as I can remember, I have always put myself in a position where it was me vs the boys. Whether it was my family, dancing, or my potential career path. I always seemed to be the only female. Growing up with all brothers, I felt the need to prove myself. That I was just as good as them or just as strong as them. I didn’t want to show that I was feminine and “weak” in their eyes.
During my years at UMass Amherst, my eyes and perspective on the world expanded. I wanted to do more for others. Particularly, young women. After I graduated from UMass, I returned to my hometown to serve as an AmeriCorps. My mission from the very get-go was to start a program of my own to give young women the opportunities that I had and more. Especially coming from a city surrounded by violence, poverty, and homelessness — I wanted to provide young women with the opportunities to find their voice and use that as a tool to better themselves and those around them.
Why empower girls? — WHY NOT empower them?! Young women may potentially enter a workforce dominated by men AND get paid less. Congressional members try to control reproductive health and rights. Women are constantly criticized for being a WOMAN. Whether it’s being a career woman and a mother, breast feeding in public, what they wear, or physical appearance. These are only domestic issues. Never mind globally where women continue to struggle with access to education, gender equality, female genital mutilation, trafficking, employment opportunities, or child marriage.
It is imperative that women build each other up and take the time to teach rather than compete. Empowered women are strong, resilient, creative, fierce, passionate, and flexible. We need to continue thinking about others because it is not only the current female population we should be worrying about. “We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements and no remaining ceilings to shatter.” – President Barack Obama