You met Lily Womble in last week’s She’s Doing It and learned that she attended the AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) international forum in Istanbul.
There, she recorded video interviews with a number of women from around the globe. Besides the two in this post (watch them to learn what the post title means), you can see more on Lily’s YouTube channel.
Now back in college in Mississippi, 19-year-old Lily reflected on her experience:
Jet lagged and overwhelmed with gratitude for last week in Turkey, I come back to Jackson, Mississippi. Last week at the AWID Forum on Women’s Rights and Development was a time when women from around the world discussed the many obstacles they face in creating a more safe and just world for women. Fellowship, dialogue, story telling, brain storming, and great exposure to our sisters in the world was what I experienced in Istanbul, Turkey, but now its time to return to our corners of the world and get back to work. As I struggle to process this amazing experience into words, my new friends from the conference are putting their passions into action all over the world.
Curious about how Lily applies what she learned about women globally to women in the U.S., I asked how she thinks young women here relate to power and leadership differently or the same as their mothers and grandmothers.
Lily mused, “There are definitely more opportunities for girls today than there were in my mother’s or grandmother’s time. Growing up in a poor family in the south, I do not think my grandmother had a concept of rising to a greater station of power.
“Today there is a greater awareness among girls of their power to exercise control over their decisions and lives than there was in my grandmother’s time. There are many more examples of women living out leadership in our country today and that is encouraging, especially because many of those women are becoming mentors for more and more girls.
“[But] the battle for girl’s and women’s empowerment and access to opportunity is not over. I think there is a grand misconception among women and men in the U.S. that ‘women’s issues’ are settled and feminism is irrelevant. When I look at how women are egregiously underpaid for their work, how we are denied the right to choose what happens to our own bodies, and how women in many places of leadership are not considered equal to their male counterparts, it is clear to me that we as women, as girls, need to break down the walls separating us for even greater power and leadership.
“Progress cannot happen without women. That is not a sentiment that was embraced by my mother’s and grandmother’s generations; however, I see that statement starting to take root today, and we as women need to ensure its growth.”
Finally, I wanted to know what would be most helpful to Lily in her work going forward.
“I hope that feminists around the country will not write off the South so quickly, but will pay attention to these girls and women of the south because they are and will continue to change our state, our country, and our world for the better,” Lily replied.
She told me about her recent work in Jackson MS, interviewing and empowering young girls to “change the world by being themselves” in an edition of Smart Girls at the Party, started by Amy Poehler and Meredith Walker. She’s also working as an intern with the Women’s Fund of Mississippi, on the front lines of the fight for better sex education.
Keep your eye out for Ms Lily Womble. I’m pretty sure we’ll be hearing from her again soon. Meanwhile, you can follow her blog , Smart Girls Out Loud.
Declares Lily (citing No Excuses I am proud to say): “I am going to ‘lead my dream’ of continuing in the work of women’s and girl’s empowerment.”
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