Empowerment: The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.
For our Gender and Women Studies Activist Project we set out to empower young girls and women by showcasing already empowered women of UMBC. We chose to do our project on Women Empowerment because we feel that there is a strong need for young women to feel a sense of self-worth and confidence about themselves. We feel that young girls, in particular, are susceptible to society’s criticism and that these young women need to be “lifted up” rather than “torn down.”
To accomplish our goal, we chose to take photographs of various women who make up UMBC. We photographed a number of professors, students, staff, and a few sports teams. We asked each person in the photographs to complete this sentence . . . “What Empowers Me is . . .” We hoped to get a good example of the various ways in which women feel empowered and pass that sense of empowerment onto other women.
Our next step in our Activist Project was to create a calendar using the photographs of the women of UMBC and super-impose the answers of what it is that empowers these women into the calendar. We had hoped to distribute the finished calendars to a local chapter of Girls on the Run, a “nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.”
This is where our project took a turn. We sent several correspondents to the head of the chapter, but never received a reply back as to whether we could distribute them to the girls involved. So plan B . . . we had the calendars printed with the help of Dr. Kate, our Gender and Women Studies professor. We planned to leave the calendars at the UMBC Women’s Center so they would be made available to other UMBC students and staff who wanted a copy. (Here is a completed copy of our said calendar . . .)
This project has changed our relationship in regards to activism in that we realized that what we may envision for the outcome of our project may not always be how it ends up. We learned to come together as a group and to be flexible and not get too attached to our original idea and leave room for revision. Our understanding of what activism means has changed since we began our project: we now understand that in order for activism to work we need not waste time trying to accomplish our original idea; rather just go with the flow of things and accept necessary changes. It may not always go as planned and that is okay. Most importantly, we learned that many things can be accomplished by working together as a team with a common vision in place.
Our group has enjoyed being activists. We especially enjoyed creating the calendar and all the interviews and interactions involved in collecting its material. It is our sincere hope that we have helped to inspire and empower young women, and continue to do so with the distribution of our calendar. We also hope to have empowered you, our reader, to be an activist as well!