Opinion
Student Well-Being Opinion

Being a Global Citizen Means You’re a Feminist

By Laurel Jaffe — April 28, 2016 3 min read

A key part of educating for global competence is giving students agency to act on issues of global significance. Today, Laurel Jaffe, a high school student at King Low Heywood Thomas School, in Stamford, CT, shares how starting a blog empowered her to be a voice for girls in her community. This blog is part of our ongoing series by young adults who participated in Global Citizens Initiative’s Summer Youth Summit.

Everyone should have the same basic rights and opportunities regardless of one’s gender. Today, girls and women still do not receive the same rights or opportunities as men all around the world. For me, feminism is an essential aspect of global citizenry. I believe we have a responsibility to support and protect girls. A global citizen cannot remain passive in the face of sexism. The Boko Haram kidnapping of 300 girls in Nigeria was a call for action. The Taliban targeting schools in Afghanistan was a call for action. These violent acts against girls demand urgent action in response. We cannot remain passive or complacent. As global citizens, we must support the hopes and dreams of girls. Without such encouragement, we cannot hope for them to have a better future.

I have long been a feminist. At my high school, I have been able to take a variety of women’s studies and global studies classes that have given me a wide and informed lens for looking at the world.

During my freshman year of high school, I started a blog called “Dream Out of the Box.” I found that among my seven closest friends, only one of them had an older sister, and four of my friends’ parents were getting separated or divorced that year. As we were all discovering our lives as high schoolers, I found that many of my friends were struggling to find their identity and were making silly and unhealthy mistakes when it came boys, eating habits, and school in general. I have an amazing older sister who has guided me through high school and warned me about common problems she or her friends have gone through. I realized that my friends did not have an older sister they could talk to or look up to. It is for this reason that I started my blog. I wanted to share with girls the advice I had collected from family, friends, and others in my community.

I seek to help girls navigate school and peer pressure while at the same time identifying their dreams and working towards achieving them. I was able to bring my blog’s vision of empowering girls to life through a mentoring program I created at my school to help eighth grade girls prepare for high school. In the program, high school girls are paired up with eighth grade girls to answer any questions they might have and to get them excited about high school. This also allows them to have a friendly face among the upper classmen once they do join the high school.

This school year, I took my blog’s mission of empowering girls and transformed it into a venture called The Dream Box. The Dream Box is an arts and crafts project created to act as a fun and productive way for girls to identify their dreams and create a plan for making them come true. The Dream Box girls will help girls become driven, empowered women who recognize the incredible future they are capable of building. Since the Global Citizens Initiative, I have been working on creating a business plan for this girl empowerment product. I will continue to meet with product designers, sales and marketing experts, and distributors in my efforts to bring my product to market. Even though I am still only in the idea phase of my product, it excites me to see how far I have come already and the wide-ranging possibilities for my product. I strongly believe in my Dream Box project and the positive impact it can have on young girls. It is this feeling of having a passion that you so deeply care about that I hope every girl feels at some point in her life and I believe my Dream Box can help her get there.

I believe that global citizenship requires taking action to promote women’s rights and creating an environment in which all children can grow up with a dream. Through my blog and the Dream Box project, I strive to create a supportive community within which girls will grow and thrive. Although right now my blog and Dream Box project are more locally based and focused, I hope one day to be able to reach a more global audience for I think my blog and Dream Box provides skills and advice that all girls, regardless of where they are from, need and can benefit from.

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Image courtesy of the author.

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