Tuesday, July 20, 2010

There's Always Someone There to Help

Today was the first day of the Amazing Women monologues. Everybody did very well, and we supported everyone if they felt nervous at all. Through listening, I learned things that I never knew before - for example, that Mother Teresa was Albanian by ethnicity and that Mary Wollstonecraft experienced all kinds of abuse at the hands of various men in her life.

We watched a film called about women in politics today, which brought attention to the shocking dilemma of the low numbers of women in national public office. The United States ranks 85th in the world in terms of female representatives, while developing countries such as Rwanda and Chile are making astonishing improvements with gender equality in political representation. Although Rwanda suffered through a devastating genocide in 1994, it has made great political and economic advances in recent years. 

Why hasn't the United States made such improvements? Jeanne Sheehan, former governor of New Hampshire and current US Senator, told her interviewer that she sees what's happening in other countries but that she believes change at home will happen slowly but surely. Anna Hidalgo, a former TA for Women and Leadership, led a debriefing after the film and urged us repeatedly to consider running for political office in the future. She told us that it is very hard to run for office, and that there's a 98% rate of success for incumbents, but that the biggest obstacle for women in public service is not the outside world, but their own lack of self-confidence. About 2/3 of men rate themselves as having basic leadership qualities, but women consistently rate themselves lower though they may have these qualities already.

Personally, I am very interested in political science, and I took her suggestions into serious consideration.
Here are two youth leaders named Kakeena Castro and Susan Anderson after their presentation to us. They introduced us to their organization, Youth in Action, which advocates for youth rights in the Providence area. They showed us a "Youth Bill of Rights", which asserted that, among various things, all youth should have access to free health care, healthy and enjoyable school lunches, a voice in the selection of their teachers and administration, and affordable public transportation. I agree with all those points. I wouldn't say that decisions should be left to youth and only to youth, but  I believe that we should be allowed to have input which should be valued by adults. Kisa serves on their joint adult-youth board and they stressed the importance of finding and utilizing mentors who can help you every step of the way. It opened my eyes to the fact that there's always someone there to help. I'm very glad that I heard these two women present.

After class, I went to the Partner Scholars gathering for Summer@Brown students who came here on a scholarship or with a group. It was lots of fun - we ate pizza while we asked questions of the 4 panelists who were all first-generation college students. I met Mo, who I believe is a Leadership Fellow here, and Soyoung, who is a student like me.

1 comment:

  1. Irene,

    One of the better parts of the Amazing Women monologues may be that you’re all learning so much more about these amazing women than you already knew and, I’m betting, that many of these women may never have shown up on your radar enough to prompt you to check them out on your own.

    That Youth Bill of Rights you wrote about is pretty bold. As with many good ideas, the ideas themselves have merit but the means for implementation may be problematic. For instance, the concept of access to free health care for youths is a great idea but who are we going to get to pay for these services when the demand outpaces the ability to provide these services?

    Also, I could go along with allowing students to select their courses just as they do in college where they can compare the course being offered and, of course, the teachers. Allowing the students to just select their teachers, though, doesn’t quite fly with me. (Sorry)