A few years ago, my husband and I were packing for a trip. I had picked out an amazing new book that I was excited to read, and I asked my husband to put it in my bag for me. When we arrived at our destination, I couldn’t find the book. I asked my husband and he said that the book was too heavy, so he had left it at home. He had taken away a rare opportunity for me to dig into a book, and I was devastated.
It was a silly experience (and an uncharacteristic move by my husband, who is a true pillar of support in my life), but it stuck with me and is the only example I can think of when I try to think of a time education was denied to me. That makes me incredibly privileged, because it is a million times worse than that for women all around the world. They have their ability to learn and grow taken away, not by well-intentioned and supportive husbands, but by systems that create and sustain oppression, by leaders, community members and sometimes their own family members who think they are not worthy.
My background in engineering has given me the ability to find practical solutions by looking at the root cause of the problem. I began to see how the root cause of a lot of the world’s problems are connected to the oppression of women and girls.
“The single most important way to encourage women and girls to stand up for their rights is education, and we can do far more to promote universal education in poor countries.” -- Nicholas D. Kristof, Half the Sky: How to Change the World
In the United States, we’re given equal education, and that education gives us the courage to ask for equality elsewhere. It allows us to prove that we have so much to offer society. As mothers, it allows us to better provide for and teach our children, to keep them healthy and support their growth. It allows us to stand confidently knowing that we can have a positive impact on the world.
When I look back at my childhood, I see the impact of the education I received. I was very shy when I came to the United States from Trinidad at the age of seven. My voice was soft as a mouse, I was shy, and I was a devoted rule follower. I slowly started to find my voice, and eventually was elected co-president of my elementary school, which boosted my confidence immensely.
In middle school I discovered classic literature and would escape into books every day. I was disappointed when I didn’t make the cut for the “gifted” classes and surprised when, despite that, I was recognized as salutatorian. My confidence continued to grow.
In high school I made it into the honors classes and still loved the literary world I had created for myself. Books were seeds that could plant an idea in me, and I could take those ideas and adapt them to my world. When my then-boyfriend, now-husband decided to apply to Columbia University, I thought “If he can, why not me?” I graduated as valedictorian of my high school and was accepted to Columbia.
My education taught me more than just math, science, english and social studies-- it taught me to open myself up to learning, that I could teach myself, that I could enjoy learning, that I could set a goal and achieve it, that I could go places. It gave me confidence. I knew, deep within me, that I could do whatever I wanted to do. I felt in complete control of my ability to set a goal and achieve it, and I now nurture all of this in my children.
Now, imagine if shy, quiet, seven-year-old me was told that I wasn’t worthy of an education? Imagine if I had never been exposed to Jane Austen, or if I was never taught to read at all? I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I would be lacking not just knowledge but experiences, and the ability to create a life for myself. The thought that this is exactly what is happening to girls around the world right now brings tears to my eyes and an added passion to my work.
I want other women to have the opportunity to enter the world of books and find their voice in this world. I want them to have the access to education on science, math, history and more, knowledge that will allow them to contribute to society and help solve the world’s problems. These women around the world who have been denied education are like seeds planted in the ground but not given access to the sun and the rain. I think that, together, we have the power to be that encouraging, nurturing force that allows them to sprout and grow.
The Kiss Kiss Goodnight mission goes beyond providing safe, natural skincare-- it’s about mothers empowering mothers. Every Kiss Kiss Goodnight product nurtures the baby and mom who purchase the product and, somewhere else in the world, that purchase helps nurture and empower another mother. She, in turn, will be better able to nurture and empower her daughters. Together, you and I will help further the education of women and girls around the world.
All the best,
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