A new era of empowerment

The Trump administration has created a new wave of women’s activism and leadership. On January 21, 2017, millions of people marched against Trump’s administration and for women’s rights. Also, leaders like Gloria Steinem, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren are speaking out.

These events show how much women and people around the world care and are kicking off a new era of women’s empowerment.

For my article I interviewed two women: Hannah, who works with Gloria Steinem; and Jamie Romas, who was Kamala Harris’s speech writer for two years. I was interested in how they got into writing and women’s rights. I was really inspired by what Jamie had to say: “I’ve been writing in some form or another all of my life, but I didn’t write for a living until I started working for a communications firm about 7 years ago. One of our clients was The California Endowment, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to making sure that all Californians—regardless of their income, race, gender, age or citizenship—have access to affordable health coverage and care. I wrote everything from op-eds and speeches to web and social media content for them, and I really enjoyed using the power of the written word to communicate a really powerful and simple message: that we are all equal, and should have equal access to health. That really opened my eyes to other inequities, including women’s rights.”

This year there have been marches against Trump. These marches have spread across all seven continents. There was even a march in Antarctica! A lot of the women who marched can tell you how amazing and transformative it was for everyone. I asked the women I interviewed about their most exciting experience from a march. Hannah mentioned what Steinem had to say: “Gloria had an amazing experience at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. She was close enough to hear gospel legend Mahalia Jackson urge Dr. Martin Martin Luther King Jr. to tell the crowd about ‘the dream,’ and his most famous oratory.”

I wanted to give you an example of what these women have accomplished. Here is what Jamie has done in her lifetime: “I am incredibly proud of all of former California Attorney General (now Senator) Kamala Harris’ speeches. I was her speechwriter for just over two years, and it was an eye-opening experience to work with someone who has devoted her life to fighting for justice. As Attorney General of California, she fought for fairness in our criminal justice and education systems, protected California’s environment, and defended Californians from corporations looking to take advantage of them. As her speechwriter, I had the opportunity to take those accomplishments and put them into words that would educate and inspire everyday people.”

Everyone has an inspiration; these women do, too! According to Hannah, Gloria’s inspiration was a women named Bella Abzug, who was a social activist. Jamie was inspired by her three older sisters, who were incredibly smart and outspoken. She claims that they were the reason she went to law school and later politics. “My sisters taught me that anything is possible, regardless of your gender. In fact, one of them is the highest-ranking female executive in the NBA. They were constantly challenging me and pushing me to do  my best.” Jamie actually says it’s more important to have role models who are ordinary people, because that way it’s easier to imagine yourself in their shoes.

For all young women out there who look for advice, here are some words of wisdom from the two women I interviewed. Here’s what Jamie has to say: “I would say that the most important thing you can do is be true to yourself. Find out what you love to do—not what someone else thinks you should do—and do it well. Find work that excites and inspires you, and your passion for that will shine through.” Hannah claims Gloria says, “Hold onto you ten-year-old true self! When girls are that age, it is before a certain level of femininity, and feminine expectation is placed on them. Hold on to this true self and listen to your gut!” 

How will you hold onto your ten-year-old self to change the world? 

This entry was posted in Student Writing Gallery.

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