I stand for women.
I am a woman. I am proud to be a woman. My goal is to help other women to feel that same way. That they are beautiful, smart, strong, and worthy. That they are destined for greatness.
I am proud to be a woman. I am proud of the strong and courageous women that have gone before me and paved the way for me to be who I am today. I am thankful to be a woman in this time period, in the country that I grew up in. For me there have been opportunities upon opportunities. In a house with three daughters, we were told we could be whoever we wanted to be. We were taught that beauty did not define us, but our character and our heart are what defined us. We knew that in our hearts and we went after it. We were never held down and never put into a box. The world was our playground and knowledge our toys. Books in our hands and courage in our hearts, we followed our dreams.
For the past several months I have been traveling throughout East Africa. It was such an eye opening trip for me and I met some incredible people, many of them women. Ugandan, American, Kenyan, or Tanzanian, all of them had one thing in common. Strength. It is something I have seen in the hearts and eyes of so many women, sometimes they have been called unfeminine or harsh, but I see them as beautiful. These women I met have become my heroes. Strength in their eyes and perseverance their hearts, they follow their dreams.
A few weeks ago I came across a quote from Ann Voskamp and it has been on my mind ever since.
“Please hear me, Girl: The world has enough women who know how to do their hair. It needs women who know how to do the hard and holy things.”
Women to do the hard and holy things. Those are the women I know. My friend Maranie wrote a post about how girls compete with one another, but women empower one another. That is so, so true.
I have been amazed by the women I have met. Women dedicating their lives to orphan care, women ostracized from their communities, but standing up for the rights of their disabled children. I have met artisans, teachers, and journalists all making a stand for human rights and loving on people all along the way. Teachers taking a stand against the cultural norms that hold girls in bondage. Mothers spending their last cent to give their daughters and education. Nurses giving their last bit of energy to help a mama in need. One of my dearest friends is a mother of seven. Her husband is not around and she works from morning until night, but a smile is never absent from her lips. She is the epitome of beauty, joy, and strength. Her children are blessed to have her and she gives her all to them.
I have seen strong women taking a stand in their communities. I have met a photographer using her skill to show the stories of the women she meets. I have seen women that refuse to be defined by the life they were dealt, women, though dealing with HIV, that run businesses and provide for their children, even though they are all alone. I met a woman used and abused by the LRA as a sex slave, but she does not let her past dictate her future. She is bright and courageous. She loves learning and has dedicated her life to help those that have been in her same situation.
I met a woman that left her successful career to become a mother to over 60 vulnerable children. She dedicated her life to them. Rescuing orphaned children from displaced peoples camps and taking in abandoned children left on her doorstep became an everyday thing for her.
I have met women that have dedicated their lives to helping women continents away. Women fighting for the rights of other women they do not even know. It is incredible and it is humbling. We are all humans and we all want to right to have our basic needs met. It should not have to be a fight. But still they fight, with a smile on their face along the way.
Because of this, I stand for women. As long as women are looked on as second class citizens, as long as rape is used as a weapon in war, as long as female genital mutilation still exists, as long as the belief that women should not be educated prevails, as long as women are ostracized for giving birth to disabled children, as long as a woman’s worth is measured upon her ability to produce sons, as long as girls have to drop out of school because they are menstruating, as long as these ideas and stereotypes exist, I will stand for the rights of women. I stand for women, and I stand for change.
If you would like to find out more, there are some fantastic organizations fighting for the rights of women all over the world! Let’s all do what we can to make a difference in the lives of women.