"My parents raised me to believe I could do anything and gender was never a part of it. When I was 18 years I went to Florida to pick up a car from my father and drive it back to Texas. He gave me his car and he also gave me his gun. He said, "You never point this gun at someone unless you plan on killing them." That was the first time he showed to me that he is scared to have a girl in the world and it was when I realized I may not be as powerful and untouchable as I thought I was or as they raised me to be." - Deborah Cannon is a photojournalist and lives in Austin, Texas.
"I have a twin brother and grew up in a Cuban family that was very old school and traditional and quite a bit machista. Having this person that was the same age - the same everything made me aware when my brother got more liberties than I did. And at a young age I would tell my parents that it wasn't fair and they acknowledged what I was saying- and it changed them. There was no room for argument because we were twins. That shaped me. I was able to to stand up for myself in a very concrete way." - Cristina Tamayo works for parallel18 and is pregnant. She is expecting a girl.
"In 1974 I wasn't allowed to be in or even try out for Little League. There were four of us girls who fought to change the rule and we won. It became a big deal. The headline in the newspaper read, "Girls make History/Herstory". All four us tried out and made the league. They put each of us on different teams though. Our teammates were very respectful, they knew we were good players. The boys from the other teams who didn't have girls on their team made fun of us." - Margie Alley
"My own choice of my name as a professional was to keep it gender neutral. Our world is almost pushing us to reflect on gender and see that it does impact everything. When I was at school at the Chicago Art Institute there was this male student who wanted to explore what it was to be a female artist so he painted only flowers. It was ridiculous, does it really need to be that obvious? People come up to me while I am working and ask, "Did you do that all by yourself?" I would never have to have my basic skillset questioned if I didn't happen to be born a woman." - AJ Kinney is a painter living in New Orleans.
"Coming to this country ten years ago made my life. Being here opened up my mind to what it means to be a gay person. When I got my NYC city card they asked me whether I wanted to register as a woman, a man, both or neither. I said, "What? Wow! This is the country that I needed." In my country, Columbia, I couldn't come out as being a gay person. Being here gave me the opportunity to create my business with my wife. The small business center in NYC helped us get through the legal parts of setting up our business and helped us with marketing." Omary Carreo is the c0-owner of Tangerine Cleaning Service.
"About 40 years ago I worked for a construction company and I was the only woman working there. I started doing door-to-door sales of roofing, siding and home repairs for them and I was doing really well. When the other salesmen found out about how well I was doing, I was no longer doing that job for the company. " - Diane and her husband have a seasonal business selling Christmas Trees in East Brunswick, NJ.
"My first job was as a cocktail waitress for a catering hall. My boss only hired women because he said they were harder workers. But to be a cocktail waitress there you also had to be reasonably attractive. I made a lot of money as a teenager and I learned a lot about business. Even though his criteria was sexist, it did acknowledge that women are hard working and more responsible." - Carol Marie Tuite is Cofounder of Franklin Street Policy Group.
"I don't often think I am taken seriously in the workplace because I am a woman. I work in management and I find that men who are older than me do not like me delegating to them." - Danielle Gentile #LosAngeles #Gatsby #womenwholead #damnrightIatetheapple
"It's ok for me to feel the way I feel. And just because men, like my father, often don't understand my more emotional side doesn't mean I am wrong to feel it. I will just carry on with the way I am." - Amabel was working at a crafts fair in Santa Fe, New Mexico when I met her.
"When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines I was assigned to work together with a male Peace Corps Volunteer. At first the Filipino community would only listen to him. They would always ask him the questions first and they would be patient and try to derive meaning from what he was saying even though I spoke Waray, the local dialect, and better than he did. I realized the only way they were ever going to listen to me was if I spoke the language fluently - so I studied the dialect and once I could really speak their language, they took me seriously. The other Peace Corps Volunteer suddenly realized that I had really learned to speak Waray and wanted me to teach him. This experience made me realize that I had always been doing this, I had always been compensating in my life - working harder to be better prepared in order to be heard." Kara Kelty is the Manager for Candidate Ready Development at Leadership for Educational Equity.
"When I was a teenager and studying to become a teacher I got pregnant and dropped out of school. At the time I thought my work and the rest of my life would be in the house and in the kitchen. But after participating in some community women's groups and raising three children with my husband, I decided to become a health promoter so I could earn my own money and go back to school. I earned Q300 which was enough to pay for my school materials and my uniform. I only had one uniform for all three years I was in school. I had to borrow money from my family so that I could buy the clothing I needed for my graduation. But I kept pushing myself toward my goals. It was hard but I just kept going. While raising 5 children, I became a teacher and now I am the Director of the School." - Dominga Lukas Castro is an educator and business owner in Huitan, Guatemala. She also gives literacy classes to her mother-in-law (yesterday's EVE) and older women in her community.
note: This project is dedicated to Dominga and you can read a longer version of her story on meandeve.com. It is the very first story published.
"As a child I only attended school for two years. Back then the thought was, "Why send a girl to school when she only is going to wind up in the kitchen?" When I was 25 years old the Catholic Nuns came to my village and taught me the value of being a woman. The priest told us that men and women are equal. He said the only ones who say women aren't equal to men are men. The priest built the Colegio Asuncion here in Huitan so that the indigenous people here (the Mams) would be educated. All of my 10 children attended that school and 9 of them went on to become teachers. Now, I go to school every afternoon. My daughter-in-law, who is the director of the elementary school here, teaches a class for older women like me who didn't have the opportunity to go to school when we were young." - Dona Juana Diaz Velasquez lives in El Plan, Huitan, Guatemala and has been a community leader for many decades.
"I plan to go to one of the Women's Marches next week. I don't want to sit at home feeling victimized because of how the election went. I want to do something positive and make sure things that I value, like a woman's right to choose and affordable health care act are upheld. I like that the marches are inclusive and a way for women to show their strength and power and effectiveness." Jacqueline Rickard is a business owner.
disclaimer: I am far more comfortable on the other side of the lens and not so good at selfies. "I really love being a woman. For one, I can do this project. I can walk up to complete strangers, ask to make their photograph and then spend 5-10 minutes listening to them share with me important and intimate events from their lives. I have two wonderful daughters and I have a meaningful career. I might feel differently about being a woman if I weren't born in the United States. If I had to get up at 4am to walk a mile to the river in order to fetch water and had little access to education, I might not love being a woman so much." - Dorie Hagler photographer/activist founder of me&EVE.
"I have an amazing support group of women that has lifted me up when I needed lifting. Women are magical beings in how we support each other. As women we aren't judged for being emotional, or for going through our ups and downs." - Kali Blocker is the founder of Diosas al Natural, which celebrates the natural hair movement in Puerto Rico and around the world.
"When I was in college I was being mentored for a competitive newspaper internship. During my interview I was asked," You are a beautiful girl, do you think people will take you seriously?" I wish I had said, "I never doubted people would take me seriously, until this minute." " - Lindsay Morris, Manager of Creative Content at Getty Images.
"I might have become an Ambassador if I had pushed a little harder. I retired as the Consult General for Florence, Italy. But if I weren't a woman I think the State Department would have seen me differently and I would have been promoted more quickly." - Sarah C. Morrison is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Liberia and a retired employee of the Foreign Service.
"Now when I go running I feel myself tensing up if I pass a bunch of male construction workers - just bracing myself for some rude comment. But really, I didn't become aware of gender discrimination until I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic. It is a very machismo culture there and I couldn't go out at night by myself and really had to think about what clothes I wore on the street. To protect myself I learned how to avoid eye contact. When I came back to the United States I read Sheryl Sanberg's book Lean In and realized that women are viewed differently in the workplace." I also became aware that I wasn't making eye contact with men and had to unlearn the protective habit I had developed in the DR." - Susan Stine is a Returned Peace Corps volunteer and Programs Assistant at the InterAmerican Foundation.
"I grew up a motherless daughter. My book is about my journey and search for my own racial identity. What took me 46 years to find out, my daughter can learn in 350 pages." - Sil Lai Abrams is a domestic violence awareness activist, the author of "Black Lotus: A Woman's Search For Racial Identity" and the founder of TruthinReality.org.