Norma Baján Balan, In-Country Director of Starfish, recently returned from a trip to Washington DC with two of her fellow Starfish team members, Vilma and Travis. In DC, they had the honor of attending and participating in The United State of Women Summit, where leaders from all backgrounds convened to celebrate women’s achievements and to discuss solutions to the key gender equity issues worldwide. The event featured inspiring speakers, panel discussions, and informational sessions! Below, Norma shares her thoughts on the experience:
Q: What part of the event had the greatest impact on you?
A: There were many thoughts in my head as I listened to each of the presentations and declarations made by each speaker. I was thinking of when women in England started to demand their right to vote at the beginning of the 19th century and now, so many years later, we are still continuing this fight against inequality in the world. Those women in England, and the women at The Summit, clearly show us that the perseverance, faith, and determination of all women of different ethnicities, generations, cultures, beliefs, ages, and gender identities worldwide can form a part in this movement.
Q: What topic was the most interesting one for you personally?
A: I thought the discussion about men’s involvement in this movement was very interesting. The participation of President Obama, Vice President Biden, and people like Matt McGorry uniting with us in this movement and bringing up the topics of violence against women is something I consider very important and transcendental. I realized that there were few men in the conference, but their participation is so critical to the success of this movement.
Q: Is there anything you learned that surprised you?
A: I learned the strong power of using networks of communication and social networks to help us amplify our collective voice for the movement. Using these networks in this positive way can help put pressure on national governments to promote and create policies that advance women’s rights. This will allow us to make systemic change for a just and equal world for everyone. Seeing this in action at The Summit, I realized how important it is to use these methods of communication to give young people access to information that they otherwise would not have. With these tools, the networks would allow more young people to become activists for this global movement.