Girls Write Now, alongside our esteemed partners at the STARS Citywide Girls Initiative, celebrated the work of “Get Her There” from the Girls Opportunity Alliance, a program of the Obama Foundation that empowers adolescent girls around the world through education. Girls Write Now Mentee Kayla Morgan joined Founder and Executive Director Maya Nussbaum to hear from esteemed panelists Michelle Obama, Melinda French Gates, Amal Clooney, and other advocates for gender equality on the Get Her There panel.
Girls Write Now is a founding member of STARS Citywide Girls, a coalition of 10 leading nonprofits working together over the past 10 years to raise over $12 Million and serve 500,000 girls and gender expansive youth across all 51 Council Districts of New York City. STARS is excited to share our model and expertise with top international activists and The Obama Foundation to make women’s and gender issues a top priority for all.
Get Here There: Mentee Kayla Morgan Talks About Michelle Obama’s Initiative to Help Today’s Youth
I was inspired by the Get Her There campaign—both the girls who are early on in their professional journeys and the more established cohort of pioneering women. These diverse trailblazers shared universal truths and reminded me of a provocative dilemma: How do you escape the violence and suffering within your community without abandoning it? How do you break the wheel without diminishing the full picture?
Though the young women featured at the event are only getting started on their creative and professional paths, they have already had a great impact on their communities—and on the world. For example, speakers like Nho, a young woman from Vietnam, radiated an ambitious spirit as she demanded the right to an education against her family’s disapproval. Speaker Addison Belhomme, a 15-year-old sophomore from the South Side of Chicago, spoke with positivity and persuasiveness about accomplishing all of her dreams while conquering systemic racism and misogyny. Even though external philanthropy is vital in our fight, the young women on the ground are also essential as active agents and motivators dismantling the wheel.
The second part of the dilemma is the aftermath of the dismantlement—which is best represented by the panel of iconic visionaries like Michelle Obama, Melinda Gates and Amal Clooney, who have all successfully dismantled their wheels as well as uplifting and empowering on a larger scale. After making it to the White House, Michelle Obama could have easily been satisfied as the First Lady. Instead, she demanded for the position to be more than just a title, cultivating her signature style in the ways she elevates and supports her own community and others worldwide.
Witnessing the visions of young girls coming to fruition as they break through the social boundaries around them inspires me to radicalize my own dreams by upholding my imaginative ideas more fiercely. And the additional presence of female pioneers beside them underscores that escaping your own struggling community through personal achievement is not enough. Your greatest strength is going back to your community to apply your new success, helping the potent buds of the new generation to grow and prosper.