"Women Crush Wednesday" has really given me an opportunity to make a tradition out of highlighting women once a week, and I have to say, I'm very grateful for it. What started out as a "fun thing" has morphed into something more for me, and I've really become invested in learning, researching, and my most favorite, SHARING all of the great things wonderful ladies are doing to uplift, impact, and change my life. I am a self-proclaimed Feminist. And while I'm a Psych Major, I have added in gender studies within my coursework because I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I hope to one day so something as amazing and impacting as what these lovely ladies have done, but for now, I'll do my best to just keep learning and improving so that I can one day get there. They have, however, inspired me to make small changes and become more involved, and for that I am forever grateful. We can't all be Emma Watson's or Malala Yousafzai's or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's, but we can be ourselves, and we have SO MUCH to offer! We can ALL make a difference by making small changes, by doing the little things that add up to big things. If we ALL do OUR PART, we can unify and make a REAL IMPACT. I believe that, whole heartedly. I believe that small changes can grow into big changes; after all, doesn't a small pebble dropped into the vast ocean still send ripples far beyond it's reach? Couldn't we do the same? These wonderful women are sure showing us that, indeed, WE CAN!
Women Who're Changing the World
Emma Watson, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, He For She
"Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too. Because to date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s. I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho”—in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49 years of age; eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either. We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence". [Source]
Dear Emma. What a source of goodness and strength you exhibit for all of us. I'm just barely two years older than her, but I always felt like the same age, and naturally, I looked up to Hermoine Granger because she was the most amazing #bosswitch EVER! But As Harry Potter ended, I very soon began to look up to Emma Watson, the person, rather than just Emma Watson, the wonderful actress that played one of my favorite Heroines. Emma is changing the world. The "He for She" campaign is changing Feminism as we speak. But even more than that, she's inspiring us to be better. She's taught me how to speak out, speak UP, despite the "credentials" other may or may not think you have. You are important. You have something to say. And YOU have the right to say it, regardless of sex, education, occupation, or social class. You are YOU, your individual perspective matters, you have a voice for a reason, so use it, and use it for good. I used to be nervous about saying things that I believed or speaking up about issues, especially those that meant so much to me and those that I very much disagreed with others close to me. But she taught me to believe in myself. Still, till this day, I mutter her words from the UN speech, if not me, who, if not now, when?
[Watch the full beautiful speech above]
Sophia Bush, Invisible Children, Global Green Gulf Relief, DoSomething.org, Pencils of Promise, Global Poverty Project, I Am That Girl, etc.
“I gave myself some space and traveled for two and a half months...I opened the school I built for my 30th birthday in Guatemala, and then built another school in Guatemala...One of my best friends describes me as an activist who is inconvenienced — in a good way — by her career as an actress...I love my job, but I couldn’t keep doing this if it ever actually precluded me from working on the world. I would just get another job....I wish I’d known to trust my instincts more, but that’s just life, though. When a red flag comes up and you ignore it because you’re trying to be nice or keep things easy, I’ve learned not to do that. I’ve really realized I don’t need to be a people pleaser. I don’t need to give anyone else’s opinions more weight than my own. My opinions should matter the most because they’re mine. And if your opinions are formed from a place of genuine honesty and kindness for others, then your opinions are worth defending — and now I do.” [Source]
I have a deeply rooted love for Sophia. She is the kind of role model I'm glad girls have to look up to. I certainly look up to her, and We're roughly the same age. She inspires me to be better, to do more, to give more. I love how she uses her platform to promote good. I love that she speaks up for injustices. I love that she declares and defends her opinions, never shrinking back like I feel I so often do. She embodies courage, bravery, honestly, and kindness. She shares that with the world and I could not be more appreciative. She has really influenced me to become a better person. Just look at all those organizations she's involved in, all of which I didn't even include! And she works A LOT, which begs the question, WHY AM I ((WE)) NOT DOING MORE?! Thanks for being your amazing self Sophia, and thanks for inspiring us to better ourselves! You are a true GEM!!
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All be Feminists
"Some people ask: "Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?" Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general - but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human. For centuries, the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group. It is only fair that the solution to the problem acknowledge that.
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him."
I bought the paperback copy of Chimamanda's Ted Talk and stayed up reading the whole thing because I COULD NOT STOP. Since, I can't stop reading her works. She is so extremely talented, so honest, so brave, that it just lights a fire inside my soul. I used to worry that I'd intimidate men, that my career and educational goals would make it hard for me to find someone to eventually settle down with, that I should, in some ways, turn down the notches of my mind/heart/voice so as to not make any waves. I've always had a problem with wanting to be liked. I needed it for so long, it's actually pretty embarrassing. But she's taught me so much; she's taught me to be myself, to not hinder myself or tone it down, just to appease other people. She taught me that by being myself, I can create more profound and honest work, that I can actually do more, do better, once I've fully accepted to I am and no longer shy away from it. She taught me embrace my femininity, to embrace what being a woman means to me, to live my life for myself and not anyone else. She taught me that there's power in talk, even a single voice.
[Listen to the full Ted Talk above]
Jennifer Lawrence, Lenny Letter- Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co‑Stars?
"When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need. (I told you it wasn’t relatable, don’t hate me). But if I’m honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.” At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being “difficult” or “spoiled.” This could be a young-person thing. It could be a personality thing. I’m sure it’s both. But this is an element of my personality that I’ve been working against for years, and based on the statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue. Are we socially conditioned to behave this way? We’ve only been able to vote for what, 90 years? I’m seriously asking — my phone is on the counter and I’m on the couch, so a calculator is obviously out of the question. Could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t “offend” or “scare” men?
A few weeks ago at work, I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-bullshit way; no aggression, just blunt. The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, “Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!” As if I was yelling at him. I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive. I’m over trying to find the “adorable” way to state my opinion and still be likable! F--- that. I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It’s just heard". [Source]
I LOVE Jennifer Lawrence, like most of the world. She's an Oscar winner, been a revolutionary in the war against body image, and single handedly took down the "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" argument. But even more amazing than that, she wrote a letter published in Lena Dunham's Lenny, blasting Hollywood's issues of sexism and the gender wage gap that so many women, in the US and abroad, are affected by. I couldn't believe the amount of backlash I heard on the internet, radio, school, etc. Seriously, I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. Of course, it only furthers her point. And in a very Jennifer way, she acknowledges that in her situation, it's not about the money, it's the principle. I have, on so many times I couldn't even count, felt that same way, that I shouldn't complain and just be grateful for something, because I was a girl or afraid to voice my opinion on matters, just because I was afraid I'm come off too aggressive, too mouthy, too harsh. But I think she's absolutely right in suggesting that these concepts seem to be gender-specific for the most part. I think she's incredibly brave for speaking out, especially in an industry that is so male dominated. I had to have taken a lot of courage to publish this essay, knowing that people were going to most likely say "what does it matter to you, you're not hurting for money". Ugh. That argument bothers me to NO END. It's not about the money people, it's about principle. It's about feeling equal to men, in a way that we should and deserve to feel. It's about fairness and being appreciated, and acknowledging that THERE IS STILL A PROBLEM HERE. Even in 2016.
Amy Poehler, Amy's Smart Girls
“Some big actors and musicians feel like they have to speak to their audience and [feminism] is confusing to their audience. But I don’t get it. That’s like someone being like, ‘I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.’ ” [Source]
I just love Amy. She has been an icon for me for so long; her openness about her beliefs, her willingness to stand up for them and her shining positive example has definitely influenced me throughout the years. She is a strong Feminist, who doesn't take sexist-crap from anyone, and doesn't shy away from speaking up about the issues, even if they are uncomfortable or unpopular. She is an all-around superstar; she writes, produces, and directs, but maybe my most favorite creation of hers is Amy's Smart Girls. Amy's Smart Girls is an organization which is "dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves [and] emphasize intelligence and imagination over “fitting in.” The website, amysmartgirls.com, offers a place of support for girls, activities and DIY, articles like "How to change a flat tire", "How to interview like a boss", etc, and my personal favorite, downloadable Women's History coloring pages, because, you know, everyone loves to color, amirite?! I also love the "ABC's of Smart Girls", which are articles like "K is for knowledge", "M is for Magic", "J is for Justice", "I is for Intelligence", "F is for Friendship", and so on. They are truly inspiring, honest, and positive. I think all women, not just girls, can benefit from what they have to offer! They also have an amazing "Take Action" segment that shows people getting involved in making changes around their community and also ideas for how you could get involved in your own community. Basically, Amy's Smart Girls is FREAKING AWESOME and its everything we could've ever dreamed of and more.
Malala Yousafzai, Winner of Noble Peace Prize, The Malala Fund
"As far as I know, I am just a committed and even stubborn person who wants to see every child getting quality education, who wants to see women having equal rights and who wants peace in every corner of the world. Education went from being a right to being a crime. Girls were stopped from going to school. When my world suddenly changed, my priorities changed too. I had two options. One was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up. The terrorists tried to stop us and attacked me and my friends who are here today, on our school bus in 2012, but neither their ideas nor their bullets could win. We survived. And since that day, our voices have grown louder and louder...I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls... I dedicate the Nobel Peace Prize money to the Malala Fund, to help give girls quality education, everywhere, anywhere in the world and to raise their voices. The first place this funding will go to is where my heart is, to build schools in Pakistan—especially in my home of Swat and Shangla. In my own village, there is still no secondary school for girls. And it is my wish and my commitment, and now my challenge to build one so that my friends and my sisters can go there to school and get quality education and to get this opportunity to fulfill their dreams. This is where I will begin, but it is not where I will stop. I will continue this fight until I see every child, every child in school." [Source]
Malala is seriously the most amazing role model in the history of role models. She is the YOUNGEST winner of the Noble Peace Prize (2014), who then donated the $1.1 million dollar prize to finance and open a secondary school for girls in Pakistan. She is an education activist, who's fought for the rights of all children to have the ability to go to school, both boys AND girls, which is HUGE. In 2011, she was awarded Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize and was also nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize. These acknowledgements of her work, and her growing popularity as a child activist, received the attention of the Taliban leaders, who voted to kill her. On October 9, 2012, gunman attacked her school bus, shot her with a single bullet that entered her head, neck and shoulder and was left for dead. She survived, though she was hospitalized for months before she made a full recovery. "The Taliban's attempt to kill Malala received worldwide condemnation and led to protests across Pakistan. In the weeks after the attack, over 2 million people signed a right to education petition, and the National Assembly swiftly ratified Pakistan's first Right To Free and Compulsory Education Bill". She of course did not stop her work; in 2013, she and her father created The Malala Fund, which advocates for girls receiving education and bringing attention to the social, political, legal and economical factors that have denied girls in her country from getting a formal education. [Source] I can't think of a better example of standing up for yourself, for others, and fighting through persecution than Malala. She is a true shining light in our often dark world. I can't wait to see what she continues to do, and she's certainly inspired me to stand up and DO MORE. As Malala said, "let us pick up our books and pencils. They are our most power weapon".
*** Malala has teamed up with TOMS to create an exclusive scarf in which 100% of the profits will be donated to The Malala Fund, which supports girls' empowerment through education. Buy it here: http://www.toms.com/malala-fund-toms-scarf/the-malala-fund-toms-scarf
[Watch her full Noble Prize acceptance speech above]
Beyonce Knowles-Carter, Gender Equality is a Myth!
"We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet. Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change. Men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters earn more—commensurate with their qualifications and not their gender. Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect. Humanity requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another. So why are we viewed as less than equal? These old attitudes are drilled into us from the very beginning. We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible. We have a lot of work to do, but we can get there if we work together. Women are more than 50 percent of the population and more than 50 percent of voters. We must demand that we all receive 100 percent of the opportunities".
Beyonce wrote the above letter for Maria Shriver's ShriverReport.org about gender equality and it is fantastic! Queen Bey is a music icon in her own right, but she is also an activist and philanthropist, which many people don't realize. Beyonce is a Co-Founder with Salma Hayek-Pinault in ChimeForChange.org, which is a global campaign to promote health, justice, and education for girls and women around the world. She put on an amazing concert in 2013 called The Sound of Change Live, which was broadcasted on TV, and in which she headlined, joined by Florence + the Machine, Jennifer Lopez, Ellie Goulding, Mary J Blige, and you know, her hubby Jay Z (amongst others). Ticket prices were donated to the organization, as well as the ability for viewers watching on TV to donate as well. It was pretty amazing, and the videos are on YouTube if you still haven't seen it. I respect people for using their platforms for good and to advocate for change, especially when those platforms are as large as Beyonce's world stage. From her girl-power style anthem's to her charitable work, Beyonce is an awesome figurehead of Feminism and Activism, and reminds us that there is still much work to be done within our Country, and we ALL need to do better!