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A Woman’s World

A look into the world of feminists and activists

Hannah Cole, Reporter

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This past President’s Day weekend, the Jewish youth group, known as BBYO, held an international convention in Orlando, Florida. BBYO welcomed over 3,000 Jewish teens from all over the world. Throughout the convention, many celebrities gave speeches, performed and greeted the teens.

There were huge celebrations, ceremonies and concerts but there were also smaller and more intimate programs focusing on specific ideas and activities.

During a separate program focusing on empowering women, I got the privilege of hearing activists Tolu Olubunmi and Amanda Litman tell their stories, as well as Olympian Aly Raisman.

Olubunmi, the founder of Lions Write, focused on the hardships women of color face. Olubunmi, a chemical engineering major, spoke of how her professor told her “she didn’t have what it takes” to pass the necessary courses for her major. Olubunmi proudly told our group that he might as well have said “I dare you” to complete the courses. It was amazing to hear how she, as a woman of color and as a Nigerian immigrant, pushed through obstacles and completed her goal of majoring in chemical engineering. Currently, she is fighting for her right to stay in America, as she is a Dreamer, and to practice chemical engineering. Olubunmi is spreading awareness of her situation and is giving “voices to the voiceless” through her project Lions Write.

Tolu Olubunmi, photo courtesy of BBYO

Amanda Litman, co-founder of Run for Something and email marketing director of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, also spoke. Litman focused on her political experiences as a feminist and liberal. It was incredibly interesting to hear from a woman who personally worked with Clinton on her campaign. Litman spoke of long nights in her office, devastating losses and starting anew. After the 2016 presidential election, Litman explained her decision to create change in her community. She started “Run for Something” which empowers and helps liberal millennials run for office. Today, this project has helped inspire 11,000 young first-time candidates. Litman is also a strong advocate for feminism and equal rights.

Finally, Aly Raisman, a World Champion Gymnast and Best-Selling Author, had a private Q&A session with my group. She spoke of her Jewish Heritage, the Olympics and standing up to sexual abuse.

“Everyone is a survivor of something no matter what it is,” she said. “There are many people out there who have who have bravely spoken up about their stories of abuse, but there are many people who are also suffering in silence.”

Aly Raisman, photo courtesy of BBYO

Raisman also emphasized to the room of young women, that it is okay to not be perfect. She explained that she puts on a strong act herself, but there are some days she wishes to just be normal, to not constantly be in the public eye and relive her abuse.

In the words of Aly Raisman, “Be kind, speak out, stand up for survivors.”

 

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