In January, I spent a week as a counselor at camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) with 48 incredible female participants between the ages of 14 and 17. I’ve never been able to connect with the youth here in Nicaragua on such a deep level as I was able to with these girls. The experience as a whole was extremely rewarding and made me reflect on why it matters so much to fight for gender equality.
My first reflection was a result of the closing ceremony we had at the end of the week. During the ceremony each girl shared why camp GLOW had been meaningful for her. I remember what one girl said in particular about the confidence she gained at this camp because of how accepting and respectful everyone was. She brought up how her whole life people have constantly criticized and teased her, and how good it felt to be in a space where she could speak her mind without the fear of being judged for it. Hearing that instantly made me think, this is why it matters. Nothing is more empowering than being accepted for your true self. The moment we can feel connected, regardless of our differences, the better we feel about ourselves. And why would we ever want to deny someone such a gratifying feeling?
The second reflection I had was based off of the stories I heard throughout the week of personal struggles and challenges that these girls have faced. These stories made me reflect on how privileged I have been in terms of gender equality and at first I started to feel really guilty about it, but then I read an article that helped change my perspective. It helped me see that my privileges are just another reason for why it matters to fight for gender equality. Had it not been for all the strong female activists prior to my time, I wouldn’t have had all the privileges that I’ve had today. In order to honor that, it matters that I keep fighting for gender equality and to help future generations be even more privileged than I have been. Or better yet, that these experiences no longer be coined as privileges but rather as rights.
These are just two of the many, many reasons why it matters, but I think one important take away is that despite our differences, difficulties or lack there of, it is important for all of us to keep pushing for equality.