My experience so far at the UNCSW has been really informative, and I’ve been coming away with expanded knowledge about women’s issues and great NGOs that I hope will continue to inform my interest in social justice. But one thing has been bugging me. I’m coming to the UNCSW as a pretty privileged middle class white girl with little personal experience with prejudice. I’ve been extremely lucky to be presented by great opportunities, and surrounded by strong women who have helped support me. My concern is that any aid or work I might want to do in another culture (or even domestically) would be met with skepticism due to my lack of experience with what they’re going through. It’s almost like a catch-22. I want to help, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to without seeming elitist. But I can’t sit back and do nothing, because doing nothing is worse.
But then I attended Leymah Gbowee’s panel discussion yesterday, and she said something that completely reassured me. “There might be people who should occupy the space that you do, but need help getting there.” Hearing about the work that she’s done, and the kind of person she is, I knew what she was saying was exactly right. It reminded me that even if I can’t immediately get a job with an NGO and work abroad, there’s plenty I can do in my own community to create helpful, empowering opportunities for women and girls right where I live. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but Leymah’s inspiring words are helping me make strides!