This year, entering Women’s History Month feels a bit different for me.
After a little over 8 months since founding Girls Give Back, I never thought I would be writing a Women’s History Month statement, feeling so inspired and lucky to be a young Muslim girl from Boston. In under a year, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet young girls and women from all over the community, country, and world, who all have different stories to tell but all meet on a common ground of empowering and uplifting those around them. Collaborating and holding honest conversations with all of these different people has allowed me to construct and further reclaim my own interpretation of WHM 2021.
My journey begins last year as a 15-year-old sophomore feeling belittled and voiceless after being told by a boy in my class, ‘girls like me can’t lead anything”, because I had suggested I take the lead of the project we had due at the end of class. As he and his friends laughed the comment off, I slouched in my cold blue hard plastic stackable school chair wondering; “who are girls like me?”. With a devastating feeling of discomfort, I failed to even bring myself to respond. A comment that seems rather minor and easy to neglect resonated with me for quite a while before I was able to fully turn my pain into passion. From that judgment along many others, that had been piling up since my early teenage years of constantly being, directly and indirectly, told I wasn't enough. Every long-term goal I had set for myself was always being diminished and overlooked. That is when I thought of Girls Give Back. I thought about all of the girls just simply in Boston who had a lot to say, a lot of passion, a lot of potential that weren’t being given the chance to exhaust it. I wanted to create an environment where ‘girls like me’ can come together to collaborate and work towards change on issues they are passionate about. To connect young girls from different backgrounds to one another and push for them to take initiative; to become leaders in their communities. The expansion of Girls Give Back to various states and countries enables me and all the chapters to learn about what it means to be a leader, learn so much more about ourselves through others and put all of our work into perspective.
Amidst everything I have learned (and continue to learn) from the girls in Florida, Illinois, Texas, Morocco, and notably the girls and women of Boston, I want us all to celebrate the women who live in our very communities who go unnoticed and disregarded. The young girls who have high hopes from low-income communities around the world who might never have the chance to tell their incredible stories and share their even more incredible ideas. During this month, we not only celebrate them, but we embrace them and acknowledge them for overcoming adversity and inspiring those like myself every single day. More importantly, we commend them for being the catalyst of a society that doesn't value them...but that they value so deeply.
This Women’s History Month, means remembering all the influential women from our communities who came before us but furthermore acknowledging those right in front of us. For this month and every other month, we value the voice of the voiceless girl. And we uplift and cultivate our upcoming generation of fearless women who are the fortitudes of our society.
Lastly to all the “girls like me”:
To all the low-income, passionate, out-spoken, inspirational girls who come from impoverished communities and circumstances around the world who are being looked down on or discouraged, this month and every other month, I urge you to remember the power of your voice and the weight of your message. You are valued and deserve all opportunities that are destined for you. While we could be ways away, I stand in solidarity with you in the fight for overall equity and equality we still have to contend. I have faith we will dismantle the systems of oppressions that feel so incisive and perpetual, to create communities that sanctify our girls ( our low-income, Black, Brown, Indigenous, Transgender, Disabled, and Muslim girls.). All of us.
During Women's History Month Girls Give Back will be committed to empowering and uplifting the girls in our community and creating projects that revolve around the voices and achievement of our women. Not only are we working towards gender equality, we are continuing to form spaces for young women to become leaders in their communities and beyond.
As I emotionally close out, I want to thank everyone who has supported this organization and my profound passion. I couldn't be more grateful for the rapid growth of Girls Give Back and truly am so eager to see what the future holds for GGB. I would like to also take this opportunity to appreciate my entire community for shaping me into the person I am and instilling the pride I have, in the place where I have been lucky enough to call my home.
We change the world. One girl at a time.
And that starts with you. <3