Empowering Native Women and Girls

by Kelsey JanwayKelseyJanway

Youth Ambassador, Center for Native American Youth

“I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” Malala Yousafzai

The relevancy of this quote continues and will not soon shake. Being a young female itself can be difficult; being a young native female can be even more challenging. We’re constantly forced to believe we shouldn’t be in leadership positions; that we aren’t the face of strength and brilliance. Time and time again, we’re not taken seriously because of our gender.

As a result of this, women are discouraged and give up. As stated in the quote above, we will not function as successfully intended without partnership with others. I feel that it is so relevant to discover ourselves as inspiring women so that no one will be able to take our thoughts from us; that we will not be defeated. It has shown and will continue to show. We are strong, we are resilient, we are powerful.

If we don’t believe that about ourselves there is no way we can get others to believe that. We contain so many treasures, how dare anyone pass them up? We must listen to those people who can’t speak.

We must listen to our surroundings and peers. We must show them that we belong here just as much as anyone else. We must be able to compete. We must show our sisters that they are capable of earning the respect of others just like we are. We must be what we never had on our journey.

Melinda Gates captured it beautifully. “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.” Just as prominent women from various nationalities in the past: we as native women will continue to leave our mark.

We will write a new story for women found within Indian country.

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