"My Dad told us we could do anything we wanted to do. My sister and I were too young to know that at that time, it wasn't really true. He raised us to think more like boys, to be independent, adventurous, and he believed in us. My sister and I took a cargo ship to Argentina when we were young, we traveled across the country alone. My Mother was aware of the danger of two girls traveling alone - and she worried about us, but my father believed we could do anything." - Jacquie McArdle is a fashion designer.
"I've done a lot of things that women don't typically do. I made a conscious choice not to have children. In my twenties I raced stallions in the dessert with an Egyptian man. In 2008 I became one of 200 women who have summited Mount Everest. All these adventures, and all these decisions have shaped me and my idea of what it is to be a woman." - Nicole Lowry.
"Everything I am now is because I am a woman and I want to make life better for other women." explained Sarah Bender. I met Sarah at a return peace corps volunteer event at a bar in the East Village last night. I was in the peace corps 20 years ago and I think there was only one person at the event last night that was older than me. I looked around the tables at all of these young do-gooders and they all looked just like my Peace Corps cohort, except back then the guys had longish hair instead of man buns and piercings weren't quite as common. Sarah served as a volunteer in Jordan and now is working as the assistant director of an LGBT Health Center that is part of the Metropolitan Hospital Center. "I love being a woman. It is always going to be hard as a woman. The expectations are different, but even in Jordan I felt that I got to experience something among the women that the male volunteers would not see. The minute men left a room the demeanor of the women would change instantly and we'd be talking openly and laughing over tea." While in Jordan, Sarah could not let her community know that she was gay. "It was weird, three months before leaving for Peace Corps I was canvassing on the streets of New York City saying 'hey do you have a second for gay rights?' and then I am in Jordan and back in the closet. I understood the policy, it was for my own safety." Homosexuality is decriminalized in Jordan but it is still taboo. "I took Peace Corps seriously. I didn't mind not disclosing that I'm a lesbian. It was a great experience and I met the girl of my dreams. She was in Peace Corps in Jordan too. We are engaged and getting married in September. At first we weren't going to announce it on social media because our friends in Jordan are on facebook too. When we did announce it on facebook we received so many loving and supporting messages from Jordan. It was really nice."
Luisa has been working at Rent The Runway for the past two years and she aspires to do something more intellectual in the fashion industry. "I want to do something where I make a difference in the world. The fashion world is disillusioning - I want to make clothing more meaningful, more intellectual and less about having something." She pointed out that sometimes it sucks to be a woman. "I am into politics. And there are huge inequalities between men and women. Even in fashion - everything costs more for women. It sucks. A lot of things suck about the inequalities between men and women and they go unnoticed or even if they are noticed nobody does anything about them," she said. She is Columbian and though she is an American citizen, when she travels alone to Columbia she has a hard time getting through security without a hassle. "It's like it is looked down upon to be a woman traveling by yourself. I was recently going to Columbia and there were all these other men traveling alone too, but when I put my passport or ID through the scanner I always get an X and have to go through further security scrutiny. I have to wonder if it is because I am a woman, none of those other men traveling alone who are in the same line get an X."