Attendees were asked to arrive prior to the doors opening at 6:30am on Tuesday morning. I arrived at 6:20am, and the colorful line of women’s clothing wrapped for an entire block around the entrance of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. While on line, I met Kinda, a woman originally from Syria and who had been living in the U.S. since 2010.
While wearing a golden colored hijab, Kinda explained that she worked as the regional director for the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE), an organization which seeks to inspire a network of young Muslim female leaders to become ambassadors for women in their community in Dallas, Texas. We spoke excitedly about our roles to advance women, which made our wait to get inside the building fly by.
We parted in the crowd once we got to registration, where we were separated by last name. I made my way through the convention center, grabbed breakfast, and even bumped into a fellow World Mom, Lashaun Martin from the Mocha Moms!
To get a good spot, I headed to the main room and met another woman who was studying to be a human rights lawyer. We joined the women from the Rape Crisis Center of DC at their table. When they told me about the work they did, all I could get out was a big “THANK YOU!” Here is a photo of us:
With awesome women from the DC Rape Crisis Center in Washington, DC for the State of the World Women’s Summit on June 14, 2016.
As the crowd was settling down, I saw Kinda, my friend from about all of 30 minutes ago, set her stuff down at a table nearby, and I went over to invite her over to sit with us, and she did.
From June 14th -15th this year women change makers from around the country were all led together by invitation from the White House to attend the first ever United State of Women Summit. Speakers included United States President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Save the Children CEO and President Carolyn Miles, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Oprah and more.
The Violence Against Women Act (check out my post about VAWA on a fellow World Mom, Another Jennifer’s Blog), equal pay, paid maternity and sick leave, raising the minimum wage, women empowerment, women entrepreneurship. women in politics, LGBT rights, terrorism, poverty, and keeping more girls in school worldwide were main topics of the event.
Introduced by Mikaila, the child entrepreneur behind the now popular Me and the Bees Lemonade, our country’s Commander in Chief took the stage. His first words?
“This is what a feminist looks like!” — US President Barack Obama
He was the only one on stage, and the crowd of over 5,000 women applauded with intensity and whoops of joy.
Jennifer Burden proud to be listening to US President Barack Obama speak live at the State of the World’s Women Summit on June 14, 2016 in Washington, DC.
President Obama gave a speech of unity and inclusion. His message was about a country for everyone, regardless of race, belief, sex, or sexual orientation. He mentioned how his daughters and their millennial counterparts saw the world very differently from how the world is today. His girls think it’s strange to treat people poorly just because they are different. How their generaton thinks it’s weird that there hasn’t been a woman President yet. Or that it’s surprising that women make less pay than men.
He also said that we’re on track for women to achieve equal pay by 2080. 2080??? And that the nation needed to work together to close the gap now.
After his speech I felt like our voices of women across the nation were being valued. I needed to hear that someone cared about equality so passionately. I needed to hear that everyone was accepted.
With news of a systematic race problem being unveiled through the powers of social media in the United States, gun violence, poverty and world terrorism, I knew what the President spoke of wasn’t the full reality today in our country, but what we aimed to be. Dreams of unity and equality that we can make it happen. We WILL get there, but everyone needs to play a role on the team. It gave me hope, and I was quite emotionally moved by hearing his words. They motivated me to try harder.
When I turned around to face the table after he spoke, Kinda could see my teary face. She started walking around the circular table towards me, and I met her half way. We hugged. We were pure strangers just a few hours ago. We hugged the hug that we needed to hug after that speech. A hug that we all belonged. A hug that we were all understood. A hug that it is not only ok, but also safe, to be different from one another. A hug that supporting each other should be our normal first intention and reaction above all else.
Kinda and Jennifer Burden pose for a photo at the State of the World’s Women Summit in Washington, DC on June 14th, 2016.
This is my America. And I am proud to be a part of it, just one citizen among the many helping to lead it forward in progress. We can all do our part in appreciating our differences and finding ways in which we can work together. For staying positive. For seeing the good in the world, instead of being afraid of what makes us different. For finding what brings us together as humans.
This is where I see my country’s future. This is how I see the world’s future. This is what I want for the world’s children. Freedom. Peace. The ideas are out there, so no doubt it can be achieved. It is possible!
As a part of World Moms Network, we seek to bond together and do our part to help create a world of friendship, peace, acceptance, and understanding. It’s even in our vision statement,
“We envision a world of peace and equality, grounded by our common bond of motherhood.”
We believe it can happen. We’re aiming for it. Join us. Hang out, here, on our website. Sign up for our newsletter. Follow us on social media. Share and like our posts. Comment and share your thoughts on how we can make the world a more peaceful place. Tell us what you’re doing to help achieve these goals from your corner of the world, whether it be a random act of kindness or a major campaign — no step is too small! And we are so interested to know about YOU! This space is for all of us. This project is real. Be a part of our movement — you’re invited, and we’re still just getting started!
This is an original post to World Moms Network by Founder and CEO, Jennifer Burden, in New Jersey, USA.
Photo credits to the author.
Season’s Greetings Readers!
As the end of December approaches, so does the end 2014. We would like to thank YOU, for joining us and coming along for the ride over this past year. You…sharing our posts, posting comments, and interacting with us on social media…THAT is what keeps us going!
This past year has been another amazing one for World Moms Blog (WMB). As we touch on some highlights from 2014, you will see that these world moms get around!
After all that, we are getting ready to take a blogcation break to spend time with family, friends, and re-energize for 2015. We hope that you will get the chance to do the same. And if you find yourself looking for something to read, come on by and catch up on posts you may have missed in 2014!
Wishing you all a joyful end of the year. Come back on Monday, January 5th to help us kick off 2015.
World Moms Blog
What I learned at the White House Travel Blogger Summit this week…!
On Tuesday, December 9, 2014, the White House invited over 100 social media influencers in travel and global citizenship to Washington, D.C. to discuss study abroad programs for students. Puzzled about the high level concern? Statistics show that our country is lacking in global ambassadors abroad, and this effects our global economic competitiveness and matters of global security.
Did you know that from 2012-2013 just under 300,000 U.S. students studied abroad for university credit?
It sounds like a big number, right? Well, according to Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State, that number accounts for just 1.5% of the population of 20 million students enrolled during that same time period. Just 1.5%. Shocking, right? Yet, nearly 50% of students indicate that they are interested in studying abroad when they first enter university. So, why is traveling abroad as a student actually a rarity?
Some barriers to taking the international leap can be finances (that was my case!), no flexibility to take courses outside the university in your major, parental concerns, roommate concerns, intimidation of living in a foreign country and lack of information about programs and scholarships.
These were the type of issues that we discussed with top U.S. government officials at the White House Travel Blogger Summit this week. In fact, the White House has announced the launch of a U.S. study abroad office within the next 6 months, as well as, the first-ever Virtual Study Abroad Fair, to be held on February 25, 2015. The new office will help make it easier for more students, regardless of sex, race or socioeconomic status to make studying abroad a reality. And perhaps, we, at World Moms Blog can help with the parental concern part. 😉 (Stay tuned to the blog for advice for parents!)
Why is the U.S. State Department pushing the value of an international component of education?
Our next generation of leaders must have experience as global citizens to be able to “operate within the global political and economic landscape of the 21st century”, according to Evans. An increase of Americans traveling, studying, working and volunteering abroad also helps to break false American stereotypes.
Making Study Abroad Affordable…
Affording to study abroad is not a reality for many American students, which limits the pool of our student ambassadors, limiting the world’s picture of who the American student is. The diversity of American students has not been properly represented to the world with 76% of study abroad students in the 2012-2013 academic year being white, 5% African American, 8% Hispanic, 7% Asian/Pacific Islander, and less than 1% Native American, as per Ryan.
In my own student experience, I spent a summer abroad in Japan in high school thanks to a local scholarship, when I got to college the door to study abroad was closed to me. I was receiving need-based financial aid at a private university consisting of both, Federal aid and aid from my university’s scholarship fund. However the private funds only applied to my education at the university, not abroad. So, I was disappointingly priced out.
This week I had the opportunity to speak with Evan Ryan one-on-one just before she spoke at the White House Travel Bloggers conference, and when I told her my story, she told me about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. This scholarship aims to target the population of U.S. students underrepresented in study abroad programs and sends about 2,000 kids abroad to study annually. To be considered for the scholarship, a U.S. student must be receiving need-based financial aid, such as an US Pell Grant or US Stafford Loan (two types of government subsidized need-based university financial aid).
The challenge? Over 9,000 students apply for the Gilman scholarship each year, but only 2,000 can go. It would be great for more students on need-based financial aid to have a global education experience, and the launch of the new U.S. office of study abroad plans to work toward just that goal — that study abroad is for everyone.
The Economic and Political Landscape is Changing and Friendship Aids Navigation
With greater access to transportation and technology in this day and age, the economic and political landscape is changing. There will continue to be more business and government roles that will require candidates who have foreign language skills and global experience. And, perhaps, the most important and overlooked landscape? Friendship.
Having friends around the world is interesting, fun and mind opening, as we have been learning for the past 4 years, here, at World Moms Blog. Being able to put ourselves in our foreign neighbors’ shoes to better understand what their lives are like makes us more understanding global citizens, and vice versa.
One of my most interesting moments in blog friendship was when one of our international contributors that I’ve been working with here over the years once said to me, “I had no idea Americans could be as understanding as you.” It took me by surprise! But then I realized where her statement was coming from — she was getting to know my country in a more personal way through our friendship, just as I was getting to know hers. Social interaction is key to global citizenship and breaking stereotypes.
Just by increasing the human interaction between people of different countries and cultures, I really believe that her sentence can be replaced with any nationality. The key is getting to know each other and realizing that what it is to be a good human prevails behind borders, burkas, playing helmets, Mardi Gras masks, kilts, saris, newspaper headlines and beyond. We just have to get to know one another, human to human, and then we can better navigate the changing global landscapes…together.
Want to know more about the White House Travel Blogger Summit? Watch the video here:
“When we study together and we learn together; we work together and we prosper together.” — President Barack Obama May 3, 2013 **Stay tuned for more about the White House Travel Bloggers Summit on World Moms Blog — we have even more to say about our tour of the White House, experience at the National Press Corp., Newseum tour and dinner sponsored by Turkish Airlines and additional speakers on global citizenship and travel abroad!
This is an original post by founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA, to World Moms Blog.