"In my travels and in life in general, being a woman gives me an immediate passport into connectedness with other women. Twenty years ago on a solo bike trip through the Northern Coast of Scotland, - at every hostel I met women who I could relate to right away. It's like a Sisterhood. I know that sounds cheesy but really it is a gift we have especially during these times that we are living in. It's a safety net and on an intuitive level you can find a Sister whether you already know them or not - simply because you are a woman." - Nina Silfverberg lives in New Mexico and is a costume/set designer and an avid biker.
"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.
"I've had classes where I felt like I had to prove myself. And then I have had classes where I did actually have to prove myself. One time I walked into my Physics II class wearing a pink sorority shirt. My, all male, project group acted as though I was invisible until I loudly asserted myself. But there have been many women and men in the STEM fields who have encouraged me and told me that there is a place for me in Engineering. Though, I don't wear my sorority letters to my Physics class anymore." - Danielle Neighbor is a Truman Scholar studying Engineering at University of Arkansas. She attended the Truman Foundation 40th Anniversary Party that was held at Gracie Mansion earlier this month.
"I was having cocktails with a group of women and one commented about how she hated her job and that she was underpaid. A friend answered, "If you are good at what you do, you can always ask for more. There's always more in the budget." That was the comment that made me want to teach women about negotiating." - Jamie Lee is a consultant with She Negotiates.
"Because I'm a woman I was able to be part of the sisterhood in Senegal. It's a Muslim country and outside the home the women are mostly reserved, but I had the opportunity to be with them at home, in kitchens and in front of the Mosque. This way I was included in the daily ongoings and the conversations about their lives. " - Kelsey Weber is a recently returned Peace Corps Volunteer who is studying to earn a Masters in Global Human Development at Georgetown University.
"Young women have no idea how hard women of my generation had to work to break into so many fields. After earning my Ph.D. at Harvard, the 14 other students in my class, all of whom were men went into Government Jobs at a GS14. At my State Department Job in the Government Accountability office I was told, "There are no women at GS14." and was demoted to a GS13. A year later they said, "You have now been promoted to a GS14." And I said, "No. I was always a GS14 now you finally re-instated me." - Rosemary Staley is a former State Department Officer, Peace Corps Country Director in Cameroon, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and the National Coordinator of the Hillary Support Network.
"My mother, because she was lighter skinned, managed to buy a house in an all-white neighborhood in Indiana - she wanted me and my sisters to integrate into the white schools. On the night of our house warming party our neighbors, who turned out to be Klan members and not the brightest people, burned a cross into their own yard and nearly lit both of our houses on fire. My teachers said that "Negro" students weren't smart. My mother, like Michelle Obama, taught us, "When they go low, we go high". Then I won the 6th grade Math contest. Oh they hated that and hated that I went to Harvard. If we weren't an all female household I think they would have killed us." - Judy Gabbie just returned from serving in the Peace Corps in Mexico.
"Nobody ever asked me if this is what I wanted to be. Being a woman is just my reality. But I have been ignored, maligned, and abused because I was a girl and now a woman and that has made me so aware and sensitive of oppressed people everywhere." Takiyah Nur Amin, Ph.D is an assistant professor of Dance studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
"Sometimes I just can't imagine my life without my son. By the time children are 18 months you notice how unique they are and it is such an amazing experience watching them grow. He is 21 years and in the National Guard and was deployed for the day he finished training. Fortunately he is not in combat and we Skype once a week." - Bonnie Novella is a real estate investor in Schenectady, NY.
"Why live my life in fear? I was physically and verbally assaulted by a man while I was in the women's restroom. I figured if it could happen there, in a small Southern town, it could happen anywhere. It was a wake up call. I decided I needed to change my life and I moved to New York City. " - Kasey Adams is a photographer and lighting assistant.
"I wanted to take Latin in school but I was told I couldn't because I was a girl. I played basketball and the girls team had to practice outside on the cracked cement courts and buy our own uniforms but the boys could use both indoor gyms and didn't have to pay for their uniforms. So much has changed the whole world of opportunity is open for my daughter." - Laurie Phillips is an Attorney.
"I dedicated six years to helping young women through Boys Hope and Girls Hope of Baltimore. I worked there from 2010-2015 - I lived with the girls and helped them to support them in becoming better people with more opportunities. I left the job, but then I had to come back and stay involved. If I weren't a woman I wouldn't have had that opportunity because only women are hired to live in the house with the girls." - Tenne Thrower works for Black Girls Vote and Boys Hope Girls Hope of Baltimore.
"I was never told about masturbation. I was never told about the clitoris. My family is from West Africa and I had a lot of internal shame about my body and about my sexuality. My first orgasm was a life changing experience- I was determined to learn about my own body intimately before anyone else did." - Dalychia Saah is a sex educator, and the co-founder of Afrosexology.
"Female athletes are praised for their bodies while male athletes are praised for their athleticism. I did a research paper in college about Title 9 and discovered that it helped women's programs but it didn't hurt men's programs the way many claim it did. There are girls who play football in High School but rarely do they have the opportunity to play football in college. Today only 2% of sports broadcasting is dedicated to women's sports." - Allison Dellicarri is a student at Marist College and an accomplished runner on their track and field team.
"After becoming a mother I felt I lost my identity - I struggled with feelings of failure, shame and insecurity. But getting through this has inspired me and lit me on fire and it's why I started Babies on the Brain, to support new mothers and families. Now, I have a sense of unstoppability. I used to say to my baby daughter, " I'm going to change the world" and then we would laugh together. But now, in the last few months, I say, "I'm going to change the world," and I don't laugh afterward. This vision that I have is much bigger than me." - Jena Booher is the founder of Babies on the Brain.
"I was given the tribal name "Aqua" which means: Born on Wednesday. Wednesday was the first day I ever touched my foot down on Ghanian soil. I now have the responsibility of being a Queen Mother for a village in Ghana. A hand-carved stool was made for me to sit on during the ceremony and the community asked my forgiveness for the slave trade and its impact on African American history." - Mary Mitchell is a volunteer with Voices of African Mothers and find out more about her work in Ghana at Moadewix.com.
"I ran for President in a mock trial at my high school. The opposition ran an attack ad about my high pitched voice. My feminine voice was somehow deemed not strong enough. There are things that are strong and powerful that are feminine - I don't have to change or be more masculine to be strong. The sexism that I've encountered isn't blatant, it is internalized." - Juliet Halvorson-Taylor graduated high school this Spring and is taking a gap year to work as a field organizer for the Hillary Clinton campaign.