I love to read. My room is filled with books, and most of my free time is spent reading them, reading about them, or reorganizing my bookshelf. One of my favorite things is when people tell me they’re reading a book I recommended, so I decided to share two books with you that have inspired me or left me thinking.
The first book I would recommend is Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I first heard of this book from Emma Watson’s feminist book club on Goodreads. This book describes the problems women face in different parts of the world. It also explains how to improve the lives of these women, as well as their communities. Half the Sky inspired me to help other girls around the world.
Another book I would recommend is The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. This book is about two sisters in the early 1900’s. The story follows two sisters - one is a missionary in Africa, and the other is a child wife in the South. The Color Purple is a beautifully written and inspiring story, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
Nowadays, most people can agree that the word "feminist" is overused. More often than not, when a word is overused, people start shape it to their own meaning. Many people see feminism as what it is defined as, which is: “the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” On the other hand, there are also many people who see feminism as an act of calling out all men and stating that women are the superior sex. Putting one gender on a podium is not what feminism is about. People who do believe that women are better than men are not considered feminists and shouldn’t be associated with feminism at all. Valuing one gender over another is still considered sexism, even if the context is different than what’s expected. Although the term "feminist" is overused in modern culture, it is a word that has incredible strength and relevance in our society and should never lose it's true meaning.
Nowadays some of the best stories are told through books. Books spread positive messages and one author sharing their story can make an impact on countless lives. Here are two books that I recently read and think should be shared with the world.
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of things unknown, but longed for still,
and his tune is heard on the distant hill,
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
- Maya Angelou
After raising $540 for girls education, we decided to donate the money to an organization called Camfed (Campaign for Female Education.) Camfed has been working since 1993 to help educate girls in over 120 districts in Africa and has supported 1,603,676 students, giving them access a primary and secondary education. Their work has also helped more that 3.9 million children benefit from an improved classroom and learning environment. We chose to donate to Camfed because they have the same goal as us, and we are able to see what our money is being used for.
Our donation is of $540 is enough to keep two girls in high school for a year, a uniform, and supplies. We are beyond happy with the outcome and can’t wait to keep fundraising. Thank you to anyone who helped us raise money!
Camille Zimmer and Mila Roemer
The following are three amazing women who we admire very much. Please read on to be inspired and to discover something new.
Malala Yousafzai was born in 1997 in Pakistan. Her dad owned a school and passed his love for education to her at a very young age. When Malala was 11, she started sharing her views on education on a BBC blog under a pseudonym, which received a National Youth Peace Prize for. When she was 15, the Taliban tried to assasinate her on the bus home from school. It took her over a year to recover, but she still continued her work as an educational, children's, and women's activist. She has worked had to bring education to girls worldwide, and in 2014 she won a Nobel Peace Prize. Click HERE to read her whole story.
“One child, one teacher,
one book, one pen
can change the world.”
Click HERE to watch Malala's Nobel Peace Price Speech from 2014
Emma Watson is best known as the actress who plays Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, but she has also been working as a women's rights activist. In 2014, she was named the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for Women and since then has launched the He for She campaign. He for She is an effort to get everyone to understand that gender equality is their issue. Since 2014, she has also launched a book club on equality. They have read books such as Half the Sky, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and The Color Purple, by Alice Walker.
Click HERE to watch Emma's speech to the United Nations.
Misty Copeland is the first African American principal ballerina at American Ballet Theatre. She has taken many great strides for racial equality as well as gender equality. When she was younger she faced many racial challenges and now works to show young girls that if they persevere they can accomplish their dreams. She has been an inspiration to countless people and has been the start of a new era of ballet.
Camille Zimmer and Mila Roemer
Just a few days ago we had our first craft workshop! Everyone had lots of fun, and all of the crafts turned out great. Below are some of the pictures we took!
Mila Roemer and Camille Zimmer
By Camille Zimmer and Mila Roemer
In every girls' live there is someone who they look up too and are thankful for. When a young girl finds a positive female role model, this can inspire them immensely. This could be a character in a book, movie, or TV show. However, they are often their parents, teachers, or coaches. For Thanksgiving, we wanted to interview some of the women we look up to and are thankful for. We have included our moms, as well as some of our teachers and coaches who have inspired and pushed us to be the people we are now.
Carla Roemer-Mila's Mom
My mom has taught me so many lessons and helped me overcome so many obstacles in my life, and I don’t know where I’d be without her. She has put up with my irrational thinking and terrible sense of humor throughout the years, and I’m so glad that she has raised me the way she has to make me the person I am today.
Mila: When you were growing up, who were some women that you looked up to?
Carla: She’s not a woman but I loved Pippi Longstocking for her messy gleeful life and free spirit and for being unique and fearless.
M: Nowadays media sets many unrealistic expectations for women, do you have any advice for girls growing up in an era where they are surrounded by social media?
C: Approach it critically. Be aware of the effect it has on you. Don’t be afraid not to participate.
M: What is some advice you wish you had been given when you were growing up?
C: Make mistakes and don’t worry about not having all the answers yet.
M:Where/who do you think young girls should look to as a positive role model?
C:Pippi Longstocking still rocks and Emma Watson (of course) and Mary Beard, an author and classics professor at the University of Cambridge. She amiably and intellectually takes down internet trolls and men frightened of smart, outspoken women.
Chamy Cooper-Camille's Mom
My mom has taught me how to be independent and to work hard for what I want. I love her to the moon and back and can’t imagine my life without her.
Camille Z: When you were growing up, who were some women that you looked up to?
Chamy C: I looked up to both of my grandmothers, who were very different from each other, but very independent and interesting women. I also looked up to Madeleine L’Engle because the female characters in her books were great role models who I identified with.
CZ: Nowadays media sets many unrealistic expectations for women, do you have any advice for girls growing up in an era where they are surrounded by social media?
CC: My advice would be not to spend too much time on social media, so you aren’t constantly comparing your life to someone else’s.
CZ: What is some advice you wish you had been given when you were growing up?
CC: I wish someone would’ve told me that it’s okay to make mistakes and that nobody is perfect. Also, that there are many different kinds of happy.
CZ: Where/who do you think young girls should look to as a positive role model?
CC: People who share the same interests, values, sense of humor, and perspective.
Emily Miller - Mila’s dance studio’s Artistic Director
Emily has inspired me to continue to push myself not only to become a better dancer, but also a better person. Dancing under her guidance has provided me with wonderful opportunities and experiences that I am so thankful for. She has been so supportive of myself and the rest of the dancers at her studio and we could not have asked for a better Artistic Director.
Mila: When you were growing up who were some women you looked up to?
Emily: I of course looked up to my mom. I think moms are often times the best role models, which is not to say they don’t make mistakes. Moms are human too. My dance teachers were big influences on me and I looked up to a number of my friends. I definitely looked up to the older girls in my studio growing up. I always admired their dancing and it pushed me to try to be at my best.
M: Nowadays, media sets many unrealistic expectations for girls and women. Do you have any advice for girls growing up in a time when they are constantly surrounded by social media?
E: Get off of the media and be social! Screens are not people. Often times the things your friends say to you from behind screens or the messages that are delivered from stars and roll models through marketing machines either come out sideways or aren’t what the person would wish you got. Lot’s of miscommunication happens in the digital age when we are not face to face. So lets get face to face! Find people who support you and accept you for who you are. Find people that love you despite your political affiliations, shortcomings, bad habits. Find people that inspire you to be the best you and build a community of them. Unrealistic expectations come from you, not a screen. Often times we are projecting our fears and insecurities about ourselves onto the images we see. Surround yourself with positive people and positive messages. Love yourself everyday because at the end of the day, you’re all you’ve got.
M: What is some advice you wish you were given when you were growing up?
E: Some advice I wish I had gotten sooner came from the Chair of my dance department: don’t procrastinate and do a pretty good job. Take the time to do the research, plan, learn, and then write the paper. Do your best work because the person you are short changing when you don’t isn’t your teacher, it’s yourself.
M: Where/who do you think girls should look to for a positive role models?
E:I think girls should look to their communities for positive role models. There are strong women and men all around you doing really good work, being kind to each other, inspiring each other to build a better world. Look to people who make a positive difference in your world. I would also encourage girls to look outside the sphere of pop culture (including music and film) and into academia, the arts, politics, science, math, literature, infrastructure, and social change. I personally am very inspired right now by First Lady Michelle Obama but there are millions of women who have affected change for all of us and their stories are amazing…
Iordanka (Dani) Korvatchka- Camille's Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach
Dani grew up in Bulgaria and trained very intensely as a rhythmic gymnast throughout her early life, after her career as a rhythmic gymnast, she began coaching and moved to San Diego where she started her own rhythmic team. She was my coach for 9 years and has taught many valuable things. She is like a second mom to me and I can’t express how thankful I am to have her in my life.
Camille: When you were growing up, who were some women that you looked up to?
Dani:I looked up to all the famous Bulgarian rhythmic gymnasts, hoping I could be like them. So everything I wanted to do was to be like the older girls at the gym.
C:What is some advice you wish you had been given when you were growing up?
D:I guess it’s to stay focussed on my work and never stop working, stay active all the time and believe in yourself.
C:Where/who do you think young girls should look to as a positive role model?
D:First in their families, their parents, second; their teachers and coaches, they are good role models to have.
Berlin Lovio- Camille’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach
Berlin was a rhythmic gymnast and a dancer growing up, and became a rhythmic coach once she stopped competing. I’ve known her since I was five, and she the older sister I never had. I’ve looked up to all my life and am beyond thankful for her.
Camille: When you were growing up who were growing up who were some women you looked up to?
Berlin: Growing up I had a lot of strong women paving my way. My mom, Carrie, is probably the woman I looked up to most. She didn’t have a big job or anything, but she constantly believed in all of her kids and gave them tools to accomplish anything they set their heart to. She is the most positive and loving person I’ve ever met, and I’ve seen so many things test her in those departments during her life. She taught me not to look for silver platters, but silver linings. That’s one thing I constantly remind myself of, and hopefully it carries through my life so I can live life in the positive way she does.
C: Nowadays media sets many unrealistic expectations for women, do you have any advice for girls growing up in an era where they are surrounded by social media?
B: Stay real. Find out what makes you happy outside of this social media world, and do just that. And when I say you, I mean your mind, body and soul. Tune out when you need to. Know when to stay in ‘social media’ situations. You allow yourself to see, hear and feel what you decide to, so know when to pull away from toxic situations (since for some reason, that’s what social media brings up). But also, use social media in a positive way! Follow and explore positive influences. You have the choice, and it can be a hugely beneficial one.
C: What is some advice you wished you had been given when you were growing up?
B: Stop setting expectations; for yourself and for other people. You can set goals, you can set goals, you can have visions, but once expectations are put in place, the let down isn’t worth it. It’s like searching for perfection when that’s an unattainable thing. Also- know when to say know when to say yes, and be ready to admit when you’re wrong. Take all the chances you can because today could be your last say on our wonderful little planet!
C: Where/who do you think girls should look to as a positive role model?
B: I think little ladies can look anywhere! Someone who holds the same values and morals is a good place to start and they’ll usually guide you into other powerful woman figures in your community. Just know that everyone one is real, everyone makes mistakes, and pull what you enjoy most out of all the women you admire and make a superwoman-aka yourself.
By Camille Zimmer and Mila Roemer
The best way to help bring villages and communities out of poverty is to educate the younger generations, especially the girls. Many parents living in poverty overlook the education of their daughters and fail to see how much potential they have. Not only does educating girls give them the knowledge they need to get jobs, but it also gives them confidence, as well as the opportunity to start businesses, which in turn provides job opportunities for the rest of the community, helping the entire population. Educated women who are also married are able to add to the household income, providing a better upbringing for their children. Girls with an education also know their rights and are able to stand up for themselves as well as others, which prevents child marriage. Girls who can read and write are a lot less prone to be kidnapped and sell to brothels and are not forced into prostitution. This is because they have a proper education that can help them get a real job and they are smart enough to know where danger is hiding. Educated women also know more about healthcare and pregnancy, and are therefore able to reduce maternal mortality. They also have fewer children, which helps decrease the exponential population growth rates. The more women that are educated, the more women are involved in politics, creating a more efficient and representative government. Here is a simple list of positive impacts a girls’ education can create:
- Sending a girl to school helps them get a job
- Many women create their own businesses, creating jobs for the community
- Lowers the Chance of Child Marriage and Unplanned Pregnancies
- They Can Care for their Families
- Keep Themselves Healthy
- Can Send their Kids to School
Camille Zimmer and Mila Roemer