Voices

A Giant Leap for Women’s Leadership

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Girl Up leaders from across the United States share what it means to them to witness the swearing in of U.S Vice President Kamala Harris. As the first woman, Black and South Asian American to be in the role, Vice President Harris is already inspiring a generation to dream big.

“Watching the first female VP, Kamala Harris, being sworn in, was a moment both monumental and inconsequential. It was a miraculous turning point for a nation, for the world and for humanity. It was finally, finally happening. But also inconsequential, because it won’t be the last, only the first of many, many more. It felt like a long-time-coming, a dream that was envisioned by millions and over hundreds of years, finally turning to reality. It was 60 seconds that flew by too fast, but seconds I will remember forever.”

Serena Young, Florida, Club Leader

“I share a middle name with Kamala Harris, and we both are proud Indian-American women. To see an Indian-American woman become the Vice President of the United States, the second leading authority in American politics, feels like a fantasy. Regardless, it is a testament to my capabilities, which will never be silenced by my identity. She herself faced racial discrimination and gender inequality in her political and professional journey, and her perseverance inspires me and countless other young girls and women. Her inauguration is a moment that makes me feel seen in American politics, and it gives me hope that I can break barriers in the future. My identity empowers me to do so, just like Vice President Harris.”

Navya Chintaman, Texas, Coalition Leader

“Watching the inauguration fueled me with much hope. We are witnessing a new era where we will be able to live in a country where our leader cares about us as individuals and views our differences as strengths. We are also witnessing a monumental historical event, the first female and Black Vice President. Watching Sonia Sotomayor administer Kamala Harris’s oath showed me that the work I am doing along with the many girls across the world matters. Girl Up matters! Today Vice President Harris broke a huge barrier for our country and amplified the entirety of the gender equality movement. I turned my television off this morning feels extremely inspired and proud, I have never been more proud to be an African American female, thank you for paving the way Vice President, Kamala Harris. “

Amina Salahou, New York, 2020-2021 Teen Advisor

“Watching Kamala Harris be sworn in as the next Vice President was surreal, but long overdue. As a woman of color, seeing someone with whom I share similar backgrounds, I felt seen. Women belong in the White House, and at every level of government. I am excited for the prospect of achieving greater gender equality in this country, and the possibility of positive change and progress. This is just the beginning, and women and young girls will continue to rise, because we are leaders, changemakers, and trailblazers. We are unstoppable.”

Shania Hurtado, Texas, 2020-2021 Teen Advisor

“When I saw Vice President Harris being sworn I was able to release a breath that had been held in for the last four years. Four years ago, when Hillary was running I had the same excitement that I had now. Excitement to see a woman take oath, for our country to move forward. But most of all for our country to make a step that has been denied of us for so many years. The movement forward that we have been craving. Even Though It wasn’t me taking oath, I felt like Kamala took oath on behalf of me. “

Kyra Campbell, Virginia, Coalition Leader

“For the first time in a long time, there was a sense of hope that I was able to feel knowing women of color will finally be seen as just as worthy of high political power, and will finally have a place where they can make their mark. All I could feel was pure excitement for the events to follow, and watching Vice President Harris get sworn in only strengthens my desire to keep pushing and making sure the voices of all people are heard. It was a moment where I could see the true potential I and others along with me have to go out and forge new paths that will allow for growth in all areas of our lives. In the short couple of minutes, I had thought back to the past four years, and back to history and could finally breathe knowing that all of those who have worked so diligently to fight for our rights were represented, and their work paid off. It is only a continuous fight from here, and I hope to be a part of this change alongside other women to keep up the momentum and ensure that we can continue seeing other women in high positions, as well as eventually make it to those positions ourselves.”

Victoria Ortiz, NYC, 2020-2021 Teen Advisor

“A historic moment of firsts” — these words were stated prior to introducing the first African American, person of South Asian descent, and, most importantly, the first female Vice President of the United States. Watching this moment live on TV, I was in awe of the power and strength that Kamala Harris withheld as she took that oath to fill in the shoes that have been worn by men (who were white) for way too long. It meant even more to see that the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, a role model to me, swore in Vice President Harris, making the moment symbolic to smashing that glass ceiling and closing the gender gap in one of the highest branches of our government. January 20, 2021 is a day I know I will never forget and will tell my children and grandchildren (who I hope will be used to the idea of women holding high power positions by then) that I witnessed the start of a new age in female empowerment. It was truly a historic moment of firsts.”

Aracely Acevedo, New Jersey, Coalition Leader

“Today, I had the privilege to watch history unfold. Seeing Kamala Harris’ inauguration as the first female Vice President not only advanced racial equality, but shattered American gender barriers, giving hope to women across the nation. For me, Kamala Harris is the ultimate and clear image of hope. She represents infinite possibility, and has shown girls around the world that change is always possible, but you must work for it. When the Inaugural Ceremony began, my little sister, age 9, asked me why Senator Klobuchar kept referencing the concept of firsts. Firsts, I explained, constitute why today, January 20, 2021, is such a monumental day in our history. Putting a woman in the highest National Office demonstrates how far Americans have come in democracy. Our nation chose to pursue furthering equality, and must continue to choose it everyday. Personally, I believe that America has a lot of work to do in the realm of human rights, but every step further presents us with hope that we are getting closer to true equality. As a female, Vice President Harris is not only an inspiration to me, but a symbol of the power of women. She embodies strength, showing me, and the entire nation, that anything is possible. She also embodies the importance of the present day as the perfect time for change. We must refrain from waiting on the world around us to discard of ignorance, hatred and violence. Instead, we must fight, tirelessly, for freedom and equality for all. Vice President Harris’s inauguration is confirmation of all of the work I have done to combat gender inequality through Girl Up. She has affirmed that my fight, and the fight of girls around the world, is worth fighting. Her inauguration signifies a quote from Amanda Gorman, the United States’ first National Youth Poet Laureate, who wrote, “While we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.” The eyes of history rest on me, Vice President Harris, and all of the women and men in this country, to fight for change and to embrace love. Because in the end, “We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this, if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.” – President Joe Biden”

Emily Pridemore, Texas, Coalition Leader

“To me watching Kamala Harris being sworn in felt surreal. I just could not believe that it was finally happening. I was thrilled to see a woman, especially a woman of color, in such high power. Knowing that so many other young girls will feel empowered that someone that looks like them is the Vice President of the United States, makes me very happy and excited for the future.”

Angelina Perez, Massachusetts, 2020-2021 Teen Advisor

“I go to an all-girls catholic school that prides itself on empowering young women. However, in the case that something happened at the inauguration, the school did not watch it together as it was planned. I told my friends and my class what I was doing for the Girl Up project before I left to go record it. My teacher told the students that if they wanted to watch Vice President Harris get sworn in and contribute to the Girl Up video, they would be allowed to. I remember standing up to go record the video, and I turn around to my whole class standing behind me, eager to watch Vice President Harris make history in front of our eyes. As we watched the video, I could see the excitement in my classmates’ eyes as we all were shaking with excitement. The second the oath concluded, the room erupted with clapping and joy. It is definitely a moment I will never forget and I could not ask to share this experience with anyone other than the inspiring young women I am surrounded by every single day.”

Amal Imran, Nebraska, Coalition Leader

“Today is a moment that marks a page in the history books. For years, I have longed to see someone who looks like me in our country’s leadership, and finally, I am proud that we are no longer conforming to what society deems of us. We are one step closer to eradicating the stigma, hate, and societal standards that are placed on us, and knowing that I was able to witness this historical moment makes me feel powerful. I am proud of Madam Vice President Kamala Harris, and I cannot wait to see the path she paves for young girls who one day hope to enter office.”

Akhila Boda, Ohio, Coalition Leader

“This moment is about hope and possibilities. It’s about infinite potential – not just that of Madam Vice President Kamala Harris, but of every girl, everywhere. Girls seeing her today will grow up to remember the moment they first believed they could do anything – because of what they saw her do.”

Melissa, Kilby, Girl Up Executive Director

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