Bryn Mawr Now guest blogger Amanda Kennedy '13 was among the Bryn Mawr students who attended The Next Wave colloquium.
For me, attending conferences at Bryn Mawr College always seems to activate a call to action.
I attended Bryn Mawr College’s 125th Anniversary Conference, "Heritage and Hope: Women's Education in a Global Context", held in Fall 2010, as a News Editor for the Bi-College News. After I wrote about influential educators and leaders from around the world who spoke about impacts made on girls' education, I realized that I wanted to do more than report on these issues: I wanted to make an impact, too.
For quite some time, I wasn’t sure how my impact would come to fruition until summer 2011, when I came across a tweet promoting an organization called She’s the First, a non-profit that utilizes creative fundraising efforts to sponsor the education of young women in the developing world to help them become the first in their families to graduate. Upon further investigation, I learned that She’s the First had campus chapters across the country, and I was determined to found a chapter at Bryn Mawr when I returned to campus in January 2012 after a semester abroad.
The missions of Bryn Mawr College and She’s the First align perfectly, and I am excited to report that the college community has been immensely supportive of our chapter. We have already raised over $1,000 since our founding in January 2012 to sponsor a girl in Tanzania through AfricAid’s The Kisa Project, one of eight She’s the First partner programs. One way through which we have been successful in gaining supporters is through the online community of Facebook. She’s the First positively utilizes social media to raise awareness about issues facing women and girls, and ultimately men and boys, too. My initiation into She’s the First began with one tweet, and I am constantly amazed by the direction in which it has led me in championing for girls’ education.
Jensine Larsen, founder of the organization World Pulse, said Tuesday at Bryn Mawr College’s conference, “The Next Wave: Disruption, Transition, and a New Global Era for Women’s Advancement,” “How can we use digital media to accelerate the power of women and girls?”
An "action media" online forum that connects women who are grassroots leaders from across the globe and encourages them to vocalize their leadership both online and offline, World Pulse shares a connection with She’s the First through their mutual belief in the power of digital media to revolutionize equality efforts. Digital media creates space for connections to occur and strengthen.
"Certainly, we need to find a way to make connections with those who may not have access to these networks and include their voices, too. Larsen said, “The creativity of women and girls is the least tapped resource in the world.”
At the conference, I heard firsthand how young women have implemented their creativity to pave the way for women’s advancement: Shelby Knox of Change.org, an online petition platform, told of high school students who collected thousands of signatures for Seventeen magazine to eliminate the practice of Photoshopping images from its pages, and others who created a petition for the Commission on Presidential Debates to select a female moderator for the U.S. general election presidential debate for the first time since 1992. Both petitions attained victory – with 86, 439 and 122,344 signatures respectively.
Yet again, attending a conference at Bryn Mawr has left me feeling empowered to contribute to the advancement of women, both online and offline, to not just ride the wave but influence its ebb and flow.
As a graduating senior and newly-minted 22-year-old, with my birthday just a day after the conference, I am excited to figure out my place in this Next Wave and to further connect with others who share my vision. Larsen said during her presentation, “If we link these women transmitters, we’re going to light up the grid.”