On the night before Valentine’s day, let’s commemorate our favorite recluse: Emily Dickinson! The renowned American poet from the nineteenth century never married and spent most of her life writing at home. Nevertheless, she produced beautiful poems about love:
"Love is anterior to life" Love is anterior to life, Posterior to death, Initial of creation, and The exponent of breath.
Emily Dickinson reminds us not only that women can be successful without leaving their house, but that love can be found anywhere. You don’t need a date on Valentine’s day to know love. Love is in yourself, in your work and in everyone around you. Don’t forget to spread it every day of the year and not just when you can buy heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.
Happy Valentine’s Day from KidsForShe!
To learn more about Emily Dickinson, click here!
Earlier this month, KidsForShe had a screening of On the Basis of Sex. We invited young girls from after-school centers like MASA in the Bronx and they gave us excellent feedback and left the theater thinking about their future careers. One of them wanted to be a psychologist, another an engineer. It was amazing to see young girls thinking about their opportunities after dedicating less than two hours of their Saturday to an educational and inspiring film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Movies are an easy and fun way to get people to think. They get them to think about what they want to do with their lives, or about what they have done in the past that they may now see is wrong. Movies make us cry and laugh and gasp, but most importantly, they catalyze conversations.
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford the luxury of seeing a movie and having an enlightening conversation. This is why we have to support movements like the #CaptainMarvelChallene, an initiative that wants to get young girls to see the Captain Marvel movie when it comes out this International Women’s Day. The movie’s hero is played by Brie Larson and the film will probably instigate conversations about gender roles and how powerful women can be.
The #CaptainMarvelChallenge is a great way to help inspire young girls so if you want to donate to their cause, hare is the link to their GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/cause/captain-marvel-challenge.
If you want to learn more about the challenge, here is an article by CNN: https://www-m.cnn.com/2019/01/25/entertainment/captain-marvel-fundraising-for-girls-trnd/index.html
The event was a success! Every seat was filled and after the movie, we held a reception where everyone got to enjoy some Mexican sandwiches and talk about the film. We sold KidsForShe pins and stickers and gave away free tote bags with Felicity Jones’s picture that the studio kindly provided for the event.
About 20 of the tickets were donated to Dreamers and young immigrants. People who wanted to go to the showing, but could not, were kind enough to donate the seats that would have been theirs to the children of immigrants so they could see a film about an inspirational woman. We distributed these tickets to the following four NGOs dedicated to helping immigrants: MASA, Qualitas, The US-Mexico Foundation and The US-Mexico Leaders of New York. The immigrant teens gave us fantastic feedback and they left thinking about their bright futures as psychologists, engineers, and lawyers.
Overall, the event was very moving, and I hope that it will give KidsForShe the momentum it needs to be a successful organization that helps young people become agents of change.
KidsForShe is partnering with Cinepolis, a movie theater company that is going to do a charity showing of “On The Basis of Sex”, a film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and give KidsForShe part of the proceeds. The movie tells Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s journey as she breaks glass ceilings at Harvard and in the courtroom. A lot of us know that she is one of only two female supreme court justices, but many don’t know that she ended legal sex-based discrimination before she was a judge. I won’t give too much away so that you’ll want to see the movie, but let’s just say Ruth Bader Ginsburg was “notorious” even before she sat in the supreme court.
The Cinepolis movie theater is located at the heart of Chelsea and is unlike any other theater in the city. It has lush seats that lean back at the press of a button and free refills on drinks and buttery popcorn. It is also only a few blocks away from the Milk bar, so if popcorn and soda is not your thing, you can always go get a compost cookie and a milkshake after the movie!
The Cinepolis + KidsForShe event will be January 12th at noon. What is more perfect to do on a cold January day than relax in comfy seats and watch an inspirational movie? If your answer to this question is: nothing (which it should be), come see “On The Basis Of Sex” on January 12th at 260 W 23rd St and support one of CSH’s new clubs and our very own non profit organization!
You can purchase tickets here: https://cinepolisusa.com/locations/chelsea?Date=20190112
When I first signed up for a pen pal from Uganda, I didn’t know what I was signing up for. What would I ask her? Would we have much in common? My pen pal’s name is Jane. I first got her letter and was happy she seemed so friendly and open, eager to know someone she was so far away from. I responded within a day of her response, hoping I could learn more about her. Letters were exchanged between us from October to November. I was happy we were able to communicate despite our busy schedules. We talked about everything from our families to our school schedules. We even discover we were both born in October. Sadly, our realities were different. She asked me how I celebrated my birthday and I told her with lots of friends and family. Jane told me that her mother had forgotten her birthday, but she said it okay because she knew her mom loved her, but was just busy with working to support her. After she said that, I felt so lucky and undoubtedly privileged to live in New York with a family who was allowed to put down work long enough to celebrate with me.
So, it has only been two months since I’ve known Jane, but I feel like I’ve been able to bond with her. I am still waiting for her letter, but I know she has so much more to deal with than I do. I am happy that I got this opportunity to know her. Even though we are so far from each other, it proves connecting with people doesn’t need to be as complicated as it seems.
As the second ever female Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg emerges as an unwavering advocate of gender equality and women’s rights. She was born in Brooklyn, NY, in the year 1933 and was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 under President Bill Clinton. She’s famously known as “Notorious RBG” due to her being dubbed “radically progressive” in comparison to her constituents, despite others calling her a moderate. She grew up in a loving family and was encouraged to pursue her education, a desire which she followed intently. Her biggest academic motivator and her inspiration to fight for gender equality— her mother— passed away the day before her high school graduation where she was granted the honor of being top of her class. After high school, she attended Cornell university and once again, graduated as valedictorian. After Cornell, she gave birth to her first child with her husband Martin Ginsburg, whom she met at Cornell. While her husband was in the military, she took a break from her education to support her child. Later, she attended Harvard Law School and was one female student of 8 amongst over 500 male students. During her time at Harvard, she faced gender discrimination daily, she had to care for her child, and her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Despite all this, she continued to uphold her academic standing and was successful in her endeavours. She then transferred to Columbia Law to study closer to her husband’s work, and graduated at the top of the class in 1959.
Throughout her job search, Bader Ginsburg was repeatedly denied judicial positions. Apparently, she was turned down specifically because one judge wished to continue swearing, as a law existed where men could not swear in a woman’s presence. She finally became a professor at Rutgers, where she became pregnant again and was advised to hide this, so she would not be fired. In addition, she discovered that her male counterparts were being paid much more than she was.
During her time directing the Women’s Rights Project of American Civil Liberties Union in the 70s, she aimed to tackle small cases in the eyes of the law to “make a dent” in already existing sexist policies. She won 6 cases, one in which she argued for the equality of widows and widowers, as widows held more benefits, displaying her regard for gender equality as a whole.
Finally, in 1993, she was appointed to the Supreme Court and has since fought for the rights of the marginalised, specialising in women’s rights. To list a few, Bader Ginsburg supported the legalisation of same sex marriage in 2015, did her part to destroy legislation that supports vague “noncitizens to be expelled” this year, and fights for women’s rights to choose how they manage their bodies. She has taken part in so many more historic cases dealing with the mentally ill, privacy rights, etc. and truly will be remembered for years to come.
This year, the KidsForShe team has a lot to be grateful for.
We give thanks to all the new members of the KidsForShe community inNew York and California.
We give thanks to our pen pals on Uganda for opening up a completely new side of the world to us.
We give thanks to other organizations that we have worked with and that we are working with at the moment. Your support motivates us to keep working and encouraging more and more young people to fight for equality and believe that they can do anything they set their minds to.
We give thanks to our donors who have helped us launch our pen pal program and run this organization successfully. Without you, we would not even be able to post this blog.
Thank you to everyone who is reading this and who supports KidsForShe.
I’m seventeen and for the first time in my life, I had a bake sale at my school. I had always seen bake sales as somewhat bureaucratic.I never knew who was in charge of allowing the bake sale and whether or not anyone had to oversee everything. How would I get the food? What kind of food did I need, and how much? How did I know what to charge for each item? It seemed impossible to have a bake sale and even more impossible to pick a charity it would benefit, but with the pen pal program fees looming over the KidsForShe checkbook, every penny I could get seemed worth while. I decided I would tackle the process of having a bake sale. Of course this wasn’t my first time selling some sort of nourishment to a mass of people, but I never considered the lemonade stand I had when I was nine in order to buy myself a Harry Potter wand worth commemorating. The bake sale I had this Monday at my school, is.
While I was handing out cupcakes and cookies to hungry middle schoolers, I realize how important it is for young people to have that experience. It is vital, that from a young age, we teach young people easy ways to raise and give money to charity. So here it is: BAKE SALES 101. All you need to do to host a successful bake sale.
Step 1. Know your customers. Has your school had a bake sale before? How successful has it been?If it hasn’t, would introducing bake sales successfully get you the money and awareness that you need?
Step 2. Set a date. Talk to your school administrators and ask for a specific time and day to have your bake sale.
Step 3. Find people to “man/woman” the bake sale. You can’t sit at the food stand all day, so coordinate a schedule that works with your friends
Step 4. Know what to bring. Everyone is going to want to bring in chocolate chip cookies, but for a truly successful bake sale, diversity is key. Here are some yummy alternatives: brownies, cupcakes, rice crispy treats, candy, donuts, etc. If you and your friends each agree to bring something different, people are more likely to buy more things.
Step 5. Set a goal for yourself. If you know how much money you want to raise, then you can calculate how much each item should cost depending on how many of each treat you are going to have and how popular some treats are.
Step 6. Have that bake sale. Set up a station somewhere in your school, and sell some sweets! People Are going to LOVE you and your organization.
If you want to practice these mad bake sale hosting skills, but don’t know what charity you want to give your earnings to, start with KidsForShe! Any contribution counts.
We the KidsForShe Uganda Clubs have established some basic guidelines of common ground. The Clubs
have a diversity of girls of different socioeconomic, spiritual, and emotional backgrounds. With the help
from KidsForShe-USA and Equality Heals Africa-Uganda we decided on some more "defined" guidelines
to help us develop trust, respectful language and behavior within the clubs.... here is a short list of the
most important attributes of the guidelines :
1) We are space holders to the Mystery of the Feminine, Her expressions, and activity. We honor each
other and our ancestors that have walked before us.
2) We hold sacred the intrinsic value of each woman and Girl in the Clubs. We support the learning and
expressions of our gifts and talents as they unfold within us on our Journey.
3) We hold sacred the space for Community among us. We adorn ourselves in friendship, trust and
collaboration. We value our connection both as individuals and as members of the Clubs.
4) We are "Witness" for each other. Every experience of our personal stories has value and contains
5) We engage in an environment of Safety and Gender Equality. We support and enforce confidentiality.
We do not share what transpires within the Clubs to others.
6) We actively open our hearts to be Present for each other. We offer support to one another for
creative exploration, expression and activity.
7) We support and practice Mindful Listening. We encourage each other’s individual voice spoken from
the depth of personal experience and journey.
8) We practice the art of Gratitude towards each other and treat each other with respect. Kindness
9) We value the prime importance of the Pen Pal Program in promoting intercultural differences,
friendship and global citizenry.
Thanks to all members of the Pen Pal Program under the leadership of our beloved Magdalena Del Valle.
We welcome more members to join our Pen Pal Program as we projected to connect with 1000 girls in
the first year of operation 2018-2019.
Feminism by definition is “the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” It is a word that symbolizes equality to the people who are treated as anything but equal. I as a white, educated, and wealthy person have been given everything in life to succeed. I am a person who has it easy and there’s no denying that, but the only part of my life that will ever challenge me, is my gender. Women and girls, no matter how privileged they are, will always face challenges that men and boys will never understand. We face the issue of sexual harassment and assault, the wage gap, women’s unemployment rate, and little things that happen every day that have been built into our society.
Society has made things that should be unacceptable an acceptable thing. I, as a feminist, even do things a good feminist shouldn’t. I listen to music that degrades women and makes them nothing but objects. When I see a nice house I immediately ask myself what that person’s father might do for a living. I want the perfect fairy-tale boyfriend just like in the movies. I love clothes. I do my hair, nails, and shave my legs to be “more like a girl.” That doesn’t mean I am not a feminist. We are told and shown that feminism results in things that reject typical fairy-tales, and that it tries to make the point that you don’t need to do your hair and nails every day to be “more like a girl.” Society has put an image of feminism in the world’s mind that we are non-shaving, man-hating beasts. This stereotype makes young girls not want to be feminists because they don’t want to be seen as this man-hating creature.
When I imagine girl thinking they will be perceived as that, it makes me upset. Girls can want to look pretty, or become a housewife, and want fairy-tales to come true! That doesn’t mean they don’t want to be treated equally. Feminism isn’t saying that we don’t want to do the things girls do, it says that we don’t want to be seen as only that. Girls can be whoever they want to be, all feminism is, is the chance to be whoever we want. It’s not being put on a pedestal because we want the same things as men and deserve more because they had it longer. It’s working, trying, and chasing what you believe in, just like any man. Yes, men have higher positions in almost every work field besides a receptionist, but just because men got ahead and are seen with more power, does not mean it should stay like that.
So, when people ask me if I hate men, or if i’m a lesbian because I simply say “I’m a proud feminist,” the only thing I notice is what society has done, and how women need to continue to be proud feminist and tell everyone they can what being a feminist really is.
I want to be an equal, and so should any girl. Men are not better than us, and we are not better than them, were simply equal. Boys and men, you should be feminist too, so when your daughter grows up, she’s treated just like you, and not like less. We strive to be equal, we are feminist.
By Jaden Towey
On the Friday before the Columbus Day weekend, my sister came home from school and coyly pulled me into her room so we could talk privately. After sitting me down, she informed me that this whole ordeal was to say that she wanted to shave her legs. At first, I went “yeah sure, but you’ll need to bring it up with mum,” but then I realised…why did she want to shave her legs in the first place?
When I was in 7th grade, aka when I was 12/13, one of my ‘friends’ reminded me every single day without fail that my legs were hairy and that I should so something about it. She would pull me aside and “advise” that I shave my legs. What could she possibly hope to gain other than to make me self conscious? Obviously I knew what she said to be true, but I had never seen it as something to be ashamed of. Nor had I seen many other things as shameful, all of my physical insecurities have arisen from those “helpful” little tips from middle school. I’m 16 now and I still can’t seem to shake the hatred sewn into me. I’d be damned if I let the same thing happen to my sister.
She’s 10 years old. She can’t escape the confines of today’s beauty standards. Although we’ve made incredible strides within the past decade, there’s still much more we can do for our younger children to teach them to love themselves, or at least continue to support diversity in the media. I know it sounds like I may be blowing this out of proportion, but I want her to know it’s okay to ask things like that, there’s no shame in wanting to shave your legs or opting not to. I was absolutely terrified to bring up the topic with my mum and my sister deserves to feel confident and free to talk to people about her concerns. If shaving her legs would do that, then so be it.
I just want people to understand that pointing out things people have little control over, like shaving, yes, but more importantly things like scars, acne, the sound of someone’s voice, etc. really forces that person to worry about their appearance in an increasingly vicious sense. There’s this rule I heard about last year, it goes something like, if they can’t fix it in 5 minutes, don’t point it out. So it’s helpful to let someone know that their makeup is smudged or if they have food in their teeth, but if it’s something internal, leave it be.
I love my sister and all those little kids that feel like they need to change something about themselves to fit in. They’re valid and they’re fine the way they are, we all are.
By Ursula Vudrag
The Universal Language of Feminism
From lack of education, to glass ceilings, to stereotyping, gender inequality silently
torments us every day. It plagues everyone. Men feel like their manhood is something to be earned and not acquired at birth; women can’t get certain jobs because of their gender; and society does not give members of the LGBTQ community the basic respect that they, as human beings, deserve. And these are only the problems from first world countries.
UNICEF estimates that at least 200 million girls alive today have undergone some form of female genital mutilation. 1 out of 9 girls in developing countries will get married by the time they are fifteen, and there are still 31 million girls of primary school age that are uneducated (more than half of which will remain uneducated for the rest of their lives). These statistics are appalling and while we hear of people like Malala working for girl’s rights, how long will it take for the world to reach total equality of the sexes?
In her speech to the UN in 2014, Emma Watson estimated that it would take 75 years for women to receive equal pay for equal work and that not all girls from rural Africa would have a secondary education until 2086. I don’t know if her predictions will come true, but I do know that we won’t have gender equality until children are raised to believe in it. If parents teach their kids about feminism, then the ideas of paid parental leave, abortion rights, and LGBTQ rights will be normalized and socially accepted by the time they are adults. If kids grow up as feminists, when the time comes for them to lead, they will do so as advocates for 100% of the world’s population.
For most of my life, I went to an all girls school. There, teachers raised us as girls who can do anything, not as girls whose options and abilities are held back by men and their actions.
Because of this, apart from the occasional catcall on the street or creep on the subway, I have never truly faced gender inequality. I have never seen experienced gender inequality and while I know this revelation may undermine my credibility for some audiences, I believe that my inexperience of gender inequality actually strengthens my reasons to fight for it.
So far, my life has been a feminist utopia and I want to help turn the rest of the world into this gender equality paradise I know is reachable. I have seen what gender equality looks like and I embarked on my journey to spread it when I was 14. After watching Emma Watson’s UN speech, I felt inspired to start a feminist club at my all girls middle school. I did not know whether I would impact anyone, but at least I wasn’t standing around and waiting for gender equality to reach itself. The club took off really well and I even managed to hold an all middle school event where girls from grades 5-8 worked together to examine feminist and normal fairytales’ influence on society. The club’s second year was less steady. Girls would only show up for lack of anything else to do and would not take the projects seriously. My classmates started to open their own clubs as well so times to hold feminism meetings got constrained. The object of my pride began to deteriorate and I needed to find some other way to outlet my inner activist.
I started KidForShe in 2016. It is a website with powerpoints young people can use to start their own feminism clubs at their schools. So far, there are 3 KidsForShe clubs in Uganda and in a refugee camp in Sudan, started by a woman I admire more and more every day, Phionah Sserwanja. I’ve also spoken to other organizations around the U.S. to spread these clubs. My connections through KidsForShe opened my eyes to a completely different feminism from what I had learned in my liberal first world bubble of Manhattan. 10 of the girls in the Ugandan
KidsForShe clubs are refugees from South Sudan. Some of the club members have been victims of sexual harassment or FGM, and 10% of them were disowned by their fathers because of their gender. The most shocking thing I found out is that none of them had any idea what feminism and gender equality was before they were introduced to KidsForShe.
I did not need to cross an ocean in order to learn about how little feminism has spread. While talking to an organization in the Bronx, I learned that young Latinas who come from the same country as me, live in a completely different New York City. Their homes are dominated by their fathers, men who left Mexico for the best of their families. They live in a strict patriarchy where they have to cook meals and set the table while their brothers sit around playing video games. These girls do not know of women like Margaret Thatcher or Marie Curie and the female role models they have teach them to aspire to more traditional gender roles.
The club in Uganda and my conversations with fellow Latinas revolutionized my limited take on feminism. I realized that the presentations I had about women’s importance in the workplace failed to highlight the value of a woman’s work in the home. My presentations were about body image and racial gender inequalities-issues that girls in Uganda did not face. From then on, I learned that westerners are privileged to be able to complain about things like glass ceilings and stereotypes.
Feminism is a gift that we need to share with the rest of the world in the same way that we are trying end of poverty. Those of us lucky enough to be able to fight for equal pay or even more superficial movements like “Free the Nipple” should also work for people who were not allocated this privilege. We need to spread the message of gender equality to the four corners of the earth so that everyone can bring their own gender equality issues to the table. Simply
spreading the message of feminism and giving people a glimpse of worlds like my middle school can be enough to set off a movement in a completely different continent.
The fight for gender equality is like the latin alphabet. On the surface, it it uses the same letters, but if you dig deeper and travel further you will find that it is manipulated in completely different ways. It is our job to turn the alphabet of feminism into a common language that we can all use and fight for together.
http://en.unesco.org/gem-report/sites/gem-report/files/girls-factsheet-en.pdf https://www.icrw.org/child-marriage-facts-and-figures/ https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/female-genital-mutilation-and-cutting/# www.kidsforshe.org
When I was in 8th grade, my teacher assigned us an “Inspirational Woman Essay”. This is what I wrote and earned a scholastic gold key for. It is very important to have female role models who shape who we are.
For years I read books aimlessly until I met the woman who truly educated me in the art of literature. Mrs.Bogen was the rainbow that appears in the sky on a sunny, dry morning; welcome yet unexpected. She was a mystery we all understood. It was common knowledge that she had children, and that she had lived with them in England, but no one knew when or how many. Once, we were told that she had lived in Australia and owned a green Vespa, but it was hard for all of Sacred Heart to imagine Mrs.Bogen living anywhere other than her classroom. Everyone had simply assumed that she had been born with a hello-kitty bow on her silver gray hair, ready to give candy to anyone who needed it, and that she would remain this way for the next hundred years.
Mrs.Bogen, with her flowered sweaters and bright colored shirts taught me more about the world of books than the authors themselves. I learned from her that books aren’t just words to be analyzed and processed, but worlds to explore several times over. She lectured me on how deep a combination of twenty-six letters can go and on how beautifully powerful words can be.Thanks to her I understood that when an author writes ‘window’ she doesn’t mean a piece of glass to look out of, but a glimpse of freedom or an opportunity for change; and that a green leaf isn’t different from a brown leaf because of its color, but because one symbolizes life and the other does death. She helped me master the art of symbolization.
It was an honor to receive Mrs.Bogen opinion about anything. Her calling you a “ding-dong” was like having anyone else call you “dearest”, “darling” or “honey-pie”; when she said it you were more than merely a pupil. Whenever Mrs.Bogen chose to ask me what I was reading and what I thought, I wanted to hug her and thank her for asking me instead of the other girls. It was the greatest gift she could have ever given me.
Mrs.Bogen was a long, unfinished book; she had already lived and told her stories yet somehow I knew that in a few years she would have lived another five lives and have a million more tales to reveal. Her to do list was longer than the depth of any of her conversations. She lead the kind of life anyone would have been lucky to achieve.
In the social hierarchy of Sacred Heart teachers Mrs.Bogen wouldn’t be found in the actual pyramid, but in her own little triangle of art and poetry. She was never everyone’s favorite teacher, but those who loved her, adored her. Most parents thought she was the best thing that had ever happened to Sacred Heart because she was. Everyone wanted to know what she thought of their work and what she had to say about their writing; even if it wasn’t always positive or near to sympathetic. She wasn’t afraid of hurting you so long as it strengthened you in the future.
If I had never met Mrs.Bogen I would still be meaninglessly studying words instead of venturing into worlds and looking deeper than the surface of an author’s sentence. She built me numerous windows and opened countless doors. Without her guidance books wouldn’t be as vivid and vibrant as the aurora itself.
Feminism nowadays seems to have a bad name, especially where I’m from. Growing up in the conservative south as a liberal woman has been difficult. In a community dominated by controlling men with closed minds, it’s been hard to continue fighting to be heard. How can you convince someone they should care about the struggles of someone else? Sometimes it seems impossible.
Houston, Texas is considered a melting pot of cultures in the south, and yet there still seems to be a “correct” way to think and live. I’ve always been a feminist because I couldn’t fathom the type of person that would openly stand against equality, but as I’ve grown up I’ve gotten a lot of backlash for my beliefs. I’ve been called dramatic, sensitive, even dumb, just for wanting the same rights and privileges as men.
I’ve always been told my struggles as a woman are fake but all you have to do is look at the facts to know that’s not true. For instance, my high school spent millions on the football program in our school, but female sports hardly got anything. Our female drill team won trophies at every competition and yet were still underfunded while most of the money went to the men’s football team who lost almost every game.
The student council at my high school was composed almost completely of men with one woman as secretary, and that was just because only women had run. The men in our grade beat out women for every single position. It’s absurd to me how even other women trust men more in leadership roles. The idea that men are more suitable for powerful positions runs deep in my community, and it has always made getting my ideas across burdensome.
It takes courage to think differently in a community that overlooks inequality, from having decisions made for me in group projects to being told to my face that feminists are just drama queens looking for special treatment. I have never wanted special treatment, only equal treatment, and it’s rare to find people that are willing to understand the difference. But that’s why feminist organizations are important, to show women that they don’t have to accept the world they live in.
By Mia Carriles
Technology is a constant force in our lives. We can connect to people from across the world, we have robotic vacuum cleaners, and we can get anything delivered to our door with the click of a button. But why is it that this huge component of our lives is predominantly created and run by men? Only 26% of professional computing occupations in the US in 2017 were held by women.
This lack of women in technology begins at a very young age: computer science courses in high school are primarily composed of male students. Girls don’t realize what they are missing out on: computer science gives you the power to create. I decided to take an Intro to Programming class at my school where I learned the basics of Java. By the end of the course, my classmates and I were able to code our own calculators, tic-tac-toe games, hangman, and so much more. Although the class was predominantly male, I found that it didn’t bother me because I loved the power that came with learning computer science.
That summer, I attended the seven week Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program at Warner Brothers where I expanded upon my computer science knowledge while building friendships with 20 other girls and hearing from women who work at Warner Brothers. While this program taught me how to program a robot and build a website, it also taught me the power of sisterhood and perseverance. By talking to the Warner Brothers employees, I learned that there is no path to success; success comes from determination and grit. I also learned that there are so many things that you can do with technology, and this further encouraged me to continue studying computer science so I can learn to create more and more things. By the end of the program, a few of my friends and I had built an app that manages your medications, my proudest creation yet.
The next summer, I attended the two week Kode With Klossy Level Two program. During these two weeks, I saw the power of the female mind and what it can accomplish. My classmates and I learned how to access a database, how to create a Snapchat lens that can be shared with thousands, and how to code virtual reality.
The Girls Who Code and Kode With Klossy programs are just some of the many free resources available to encourage girls to learn computer science. These programs are not just meant to close the gender gap in technology, but they’re also meant to empower girls by showing them that they have the power to create and build; their only limit is their imagination.
By Kaylen Melamed
Kids For She Blog Post
We’d made an unspoken decision not to use the “F-word.” It seemed too strong, offensive even. We didn’t want to alienate anyone. In fact, somehow we felt that we had to appeal to everyone. It perfectly encompassed our mission as a club, but to use the word in the name--too aggressive. After two hours at Blu Jam Cafe, brainstorming and agonizing over potential names that strategically avoided the word, we finally compromised with an acronym: FITE Club, Feminists Inch Toward Equality. We would use the word, but we wouldn’t explicitly say it.
I live and have always lived in Los Angeles, California, arguably one of the most liberal-minded cities in America. Furthermore, I attend a private school in one of the most liberal pockets of Los Angeles. Basically, you’d have to spend some time looking before you found a place more open to feminist ideas. Why then were we so afraid to use the word? All over Los Angeles minority and oppressed groups are kicking stigmas to the curb and reclaiming offensive words and tackling traditional thinking. And yet, at Club Fest, the annual lunchtime club sign-up hour, I asked a girl in my grade if she wanted to be a member of FITE Club...and she said no. Never one to accept an answer such as that, I asked her why. “I just don’t want a sweatshirt that says ‘feminist’ on it. I don’t want guys to think I hate them,” is what I got. I asked myself how she could say something like that, how she could perpetuate the stigma attached to the pursuit of gender equality and allow it to intimidate her into avoiding the issue completely. I realize now that she’d merely articulated what we’d been too proud to admit. She didn’t want the sweatshirt for the same reason we didn’t want to use the word. And it is that same reason that holds us back.
We need to be perfect. We’ve been taught to keep our legs crossed and our voices down. We’ve been taught never to have a hair out of place or a fingernail chipped. They seem like small things to be aware of on a daily basis, but this constant awareness of how we’re supposed to look and behave keeps us from doing things like accepting a label like feminist, that brands us a proponent of gender equality, a wave-maker, an offender. That girl aptly summarized our kryptonite as a movement when she said that she doesn’t want guys to think she hates them. It’s human nature to want to be liked. But it’s also human nature to err and to fail and to be better because of that failure.
By Celine Farhadi
You Don’t Need To Be a Colonist to Find Gold
Whether they’re backpacking through another continent, making friendship bracelets at camp, or staying home to catch up on all the Netflix he or she missed out on during the school year, every student dreads the exact same experience each summer: summer homework. As a rising junior, my break is no exception. I have what seems like an infinite number of pages of math, a list of books to read so long that if I stacked all of them and then accidentally tipped them over, I would die crushed, and not one, not two, but three sources to examine for history! Not wanting to have a mountain of work and papers to climb over on the eve of September 4th, I set to work a few weeks ago. I dutifully opened up my history sources, and sorted the interactions between Native Americans and Europeans into how political, economic, or religious they were. In the midst of all this reading, I would usually have scanned the texts purely for the information that I needed. I would have read about how Columbus went to the New World in search for gold for the one hundred and first time, and then I would have been done. Instead, among the rivers of words and cavernous passages, I found some gold of my own. It was not yellow or shiny, and it was less than two inches long, but to me, it was as good as anything Columbus enslaved natives to dig for.
My newfound treasure was a passage describing matrilineal societies in Africa. It said that in these communities, when a couple got married, the husband would leave his family and move in with his wife’s and that instead of tracing their heredity through and inheriting money from their fathers, they did so through their mothers! This passage was a fraction of a fraction of my summer reading, but it stood out to me like a shiny piece of jewellery. It went on to describe that while these communities did divide work by gender, women often played an important role in trade, and in many areas, they were the main farmers. Women were also in charge of taking care of children and preparing food. This fazed me because although people in these African communities acknowledged that men and women were different, they played equally important roles both inside the home and out. This was embellished further when the passage mentioned that there were male leaders for “male affairs” and female leaders for “female affairs”. Finally, it explained that despite most tribal leaders being men, the position was customarily passed down to the chief’s sister’s son instead of the chief’s son.
I, for one, don’t care whose lineage we trace or what parent we inherit money from as long as it is not hurting anyone, but reading this passage’s description of gender roles in the African matrilineal societies astounded me. This passage was as valuable to me as a gold coin would have been to the early colonists because it opened my eyes about gender roles in history. It showed me that we are not naturally patriarchal and that while men and women are different, our roles have been equally celebrated and respected. Anyone can have an opinion on how truly equal men and women were in the societies I read about and whether there was ever true “gender equality”, but I found it striking that communities such a long time ago were even trying! In most history classes, we only ever hear about patrilineal societies and how since the beginning of time, men have been the natural leaders which is why patriarchies are the modes of the globe’s social structures, but here, we saw an exception!
We saw the trends of our history broken, but most students reading the same textbook as me will probably skip over this passage. Who can blame them? It’ summer, homework is boring, and no one cares enough to start a conversation about the few lines of the book dedicated to African gender roles! At least that was the case until now. Until I wrote this blog post and invited all of you not only to read, comment on and debate about gender in different societies through history, but to share ANYTHING about feminism that popped out at you during summer reading, or any reading that you want other people to discuss. KidsForShe is here to explore all of those short, interesting ideas about gender equality you run into everyday and feel like you want to talk to someone about. So please share and comment below so we can foster debates and become the educated leaders of tomorrow.
Brinkley, Alan. American History: Connecting With The Past. 15th ed., New York, McGraw-Hill Education, 2015, p. 21.
By Magdalena Del Valle
Distinguished Friends, Fellow humanitarians and Partners of KidsForShe,
I’m delighted as your sister to join you today as we send our April 2017 report.
Those who have helped KidsForShe-Uganda club recognize the importance
of our oneness and the role that the KidsForShe continues to play in
shaping the society and lives of our fellow women and children.
This is also the ideal time for us to earn the “World status of
Organizations” given the activities and programs we run through
In a fast changing world, girls and women need to involve
themselves in productive activities that will steer them away from the
societal ills that are so prevalent in our communities; hence the
realization of gender equality. KidsForShe-Uganda club continues to provide the perfect environment in which young girls and women can grow into responsible adults, equipped
with all the life skills needed to courageously face and tackle the
many challenges faced by mankind today.
For the dream of gender equality to come to fruition, we need to start
early and nurture our young girls into the achievers that we envision.
This month, we have initiated the outreach to various Schools plus
distributing pens and pencils to the girls in various Schools. We
encourage any interested friends of KidsForShe-Uganda club to consider
donating a pen and pencil through Magdalena Del Valle, Founder of
Beloved friends, there is need therefore for those of us who have vast
experience in our careers to give back to society by taking up
mentorship roles through which we can give our fellow women and
children as good examples and role models to emulate. In the modern
world of misguided moral values and increasing substance abuse, the
KidsForShe-Uganda club provides the perfect safe haven in which our
girls can grow into champions through Education, information,
advocacy, activism and practical skills.
Lastly but not least, the rising unemployment has also robbed our
women and young girls youths of hope with many resorting to crime,
alcoholism and the use of hard drugs.
Let us all be of the same mindset in ensuring that we do our best to
recruit as many women and girls into KidsForShe!
May this be our resounding call both this year and in the future.
We thank you all.
-Phionah SSerwanja-KidsForShe-Uganda Club Leader
On Saturday March 11th 2017, the alarm sounded at 7:30. That morning was the KidsForShe videoconference with Equality Heals Africa's kids. A videoconference where we would speak about gender inequality, the importance of gender equality, and how they could join/form a KidsForShe club with their communities.
The previous night, had been a sleepless one where I had twisted, turned, and wondered. I wondered how I could share my passion for gender equality with people so far away. I wondered what I could say in order to impart anything to these people whose lives I knew so little about. I wondered who I was to talk to people so close to my age about a subject that affected them differently than it did me. I had heard that gender inequality in Uganda afflicted girls in ways I had heard about, but never really imagined. Gender inequality cursed them in many different forms-some similar to those seen in the U.S., but some so different, I shuddered at the very thought.
I woke up before the alarm sounded and got dressed. I made coffee so that I wouldn't scare the kids with my half closed eyes, and locked the door so that for the next half an hour, it would just be the kids and me. As I waited and waited for the time of the call (which had been moved from 8:00 to 8:45), I tried to keep any feelings of doubt from my mind and I tried to focus on what to say. Then the screen of my computer lit up with the profile picture of Equality Heals Africa's logo, and once I pressed answer, with so many the smiling faces that they filled up the screen.
Every doubt I had before I picked up vanished as each girl introduced herself to me. They were people who wanted to have a conversation about something I was extremely passionate about. We talked about the definition of gender equality, the dangers of inequality, and about the importance of kids being informed and spreading the message of gender equality. They spoke about how dangerous inequality was because it led to abuse and they asked me all sorts of questions like what school I attended or how KidsForShe got started. We eased into the discussion shared words and eye contact through the camera. It seemed magical that despite the 8 hour time difference, we could all be together and discuss a subject we all valued. Our cultures may be different, but in those thirty minutes, the only thing that mattered was that we were talking about gender equality, a world problem, and how we, as young people could help achieve it. In the twenty nine minutes of our call, it didn't matter that I lived in the U.s. and that they lived in Uganda, we were all communicating about the same issues and about the same solutions.
The biggest gift that I got, was when the kids sang. As their voices vibrated through the speaker of my computer, I felt privileged to be sharing a Saturday morning with these beautiful people. They sang the words "children are the future, let us give them everything" which helped me realize the vitality of gender equality with young people and which emphasized the importance of KidsForShe teaming up with Equality Heals Africa. this partnership could give other little girls the opportunity to live a life that is equally valued to that of a little boy and give them the power to take charge and help make that possible for themselves.
On Saturday March 11th from around 8:45 to around 9:15, the lives of kids in Uganda and mine touched. I do not know what they did today, or what they had for breakfast the morning we spoke, but I do know that they changed my perspective and I hope I changed theirs. They helped me realize that one does not have to be nearby in order to convey an important message. They taught me that we do not need to have met before in order to discuss important matters. Finally, they taught me that although we endured gender inequality differently, that it is still a global problem that we need to work on together. I learned a lot and would love to continue working as a team where we can form a strong family with the goal to help end gender inequality.
I am Magdalena Del Valle the fifteen year-old founder of KidsForShe. I have been working extremely hard in order to make this organization a reality for quite some time now.
It all started during a cold day in January, when I was told I would attend a HeForShe event. To me, HeForShe had been some far off fantasy whose existence I had ever fully processed, but when I realized that it was an organization full of people who believed in the same things I did, I wanted leave some sort of impression on the people who worked there. So I brainstormed until the idea of KidsForShe came to me. I wrote one pagers, and fantasized about how I would present my ideas to the then faceless people from the U.N.. However, on the weekend of the event, there was the first and worst snowstorm of 2016 in New York City, and I was unable to attend the event.
I thought KidsForShe had been cancelled along with the flights from JFK. I decided it had been a bad idea to begin with, and went on with my regular routine of school, swimming, and homework. Until one day in the beginning of march; the 8th to be exact.
It was international women's day and all I was doing, was sit at home, and watch the amazing events of U.N. Women unfold from the screen of my computer. I felt inspired, but did not know how to channel my inspiration. Until I remembered the idea that had come to me not three months before.
KidsForShe was going to save me from and otherwise unproductive International Women's Day. I looked everywhere to find just about anyone I could contact from U.N. Women or HeForShe. Once I did, I e-mailed them until they responded. They passed me from U.N. employee to U.N. employee, until finally, they told me that they liked my idea, but could not endorse it.
Instead of being put down and quitting KidsForShe for the second time, I created this website. I have been busy on twitter and trying to contact anyone with a social media account who might be able to help me spread KidsForShe's message. The site may not be on the radar yet, but I believe that children should have the resource to start clubs and help end gender inequality.
By Magdalena del Valle