Submitted by Krista Beucler
Northern and Northeastern Colorado
Thanks to Dove and their partnership with WAGGGS (the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts), thirty young women from all over the world came together to experience the two day #BeTheChange summit before going to Women in the World. Women in the World is an event that has been held in various locations around the world and since 2012, it has been an annual event. It invites amazing and inspiring women from all walks of life to share their stories on this global platform.
This year was the first year the summit was held in London and a few people weren’t able to make it so at the last minute WAGGGS asked Pax Lodge, the Girl Guiding hostel in London, if they’d like to send a volunteer. I am the programme intern at Pax Lodge this season and I was lucky enough to be asked if I’d like to go. I was absolutely thrilled to be given this opportunity and I showed up to the hotel where all the other WAGGGS representatives were staying without really knowing what to expect.
The first two days were spent getting to know the other girls, some of whom were from Argentina, Brazil, the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Japan. We became friends fast, since we were already linked by our backgrounds in Scouting and Guiding. Talking to those girls felt like meeting up with close friends I had always known but hadn’t seen in a long time. I had to keep reminding myself that we had only met a short time ago. Through the amazing speakers that met with our group those first two days, we discovered we all shared the same passion for women’s equality and empowerment. We got an introduction to Women in the World from the founder Tina Brown and we were given a taste of inspiring talks from women like Anita Tiessen, the CEO of WAGGGS, and Farrah Storr, the editor of Cosmopolitan. We also had the chance to share our own opinions on body image and women’s equality. Meaghan Ramsay from Dove shared some of the goals for the Dove Self-Esteem Project and the Free Being Me and #NoLikesNeeded campaigns. I remember realizing as we talked about #NoLikesNeeded, that even I put more value on my own photos and posts if they get more ‘likes’ on social media. It was an eye opening moment. I consider myself a confident person who doesn’t need the validation of others to feel good about myself, but even I check to see how many ‘likes’ my photos have garnered. What can this be doing for the self-esteem of women and girls across the globe? I know some girls who take hundreds of selfies before choosing the one to post. I would like the world to be a more open and accepting place for all women and then perhaps we wouldn’t all feel tethered to the traditional expectations of beauty.
On Thursday night, we arrived at Cadogan Hall brimming with excitement and dressed in our best to walk down the red carpet and into the hall. With all of the cameras and flashes and with our special identifying Dove lanyards, we felt every bit as important as the speakers. That first evening we listened to, among others, Queen Rania of Jordan talking about the refugees streaming into Jordan, Ursula Van Der Leyen, the Minister of Defense in Germany and the modern super woman, and finally Meryl Streep, Sarah Gavron and Alison Owen, the star, director and producer, respectively, of the new film Suffragette. We heard so many more inspiring stories than I could possibly relate here second hand. Meryl reminded us not to “give up the fight,” and that the fight for women’s rights is “not over.”
Friday morning kicked off with an incredible performance by slam poet Marquesha Babers, who left us with the inspiring thoughts “You will be great, girl” and “You are a miracle, girl.” Next we heard from some amazing women, including Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gboweeand British Home Secretary Theresa May. Next we heard from actress and risk-taker Nicole Kidman, the Dove Panel, which spoke about the effects of negative body image, singer/songwriter Nina Nesbitt, supermodel Chantelle Winnie, Ebola survivors and siblings Abibatu and Lanphia, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, North Korean defector Yeonmi Park, actress and model Cara Delevingne, and the incredible parents of Malala Yousafzai (Malala couldn’t join us because, being a better student than I have ever been, she never skips school).
Thanks to Dove, not only did I get to experience this incredible event, but the other girls and I were each paired with a mentor for a mentoring lunch. I was paired with Anna Johnson the CEO of Hearst Magazines, and she is another modern super woman. Because I love to write and one day hope to be an author, she encouraged me to keep writing and not to keep my words to myself but to share them with the world. Meeting her was so inspiring for me especially since I have grown up hearing people tell me I will never make a living writing. If Anna Johnson can prove them wrong, so can I. The lunch was a one-of-a-kind experience and the only thing I would have changed is I would have liked to talk to her for longer.
And at the end we stood there in the entrance to Cadogan Hall, a circle of Guides from around the world. We sang Make New Friends in true Guiding fashion and we refused to believe we might not see each other again. These incredible women are already changing the world for the better and I know they will keep doing so, using the leadership and communication skills they have gained through Guiding. I hope to see them all again in the future we are creating.
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