Sometimes my family reminds me that I need to stop and just take a big deep breath. Those who don’t know me well may see me as an energetic, positive, get things done kind-of woman. I am. Yet I am also human and I have my moments where I’ve run myself so ragged and get so frazzled and overwhelmed that it takes my nine-year-old son to remind me to stop and take three big breaths. One. Two. Three. It is important to stop and remember what exactly is important. To relax for a moment. Enjoy life and then get back to your mission.
Today, after a whirlwind week in Arizona I’m back on a plane again. This time I’m heading east to Washington DC and this time I’ve got work to do. I am off to attend an amazing two-day conference at Google’s DC headquarters hosted by ONE Women and Girls called the AYA Summit. The Summit will be an inspiring, jam-packed two-days filled with some of the world’s leading speakers and do-gooders who advocate the rights of women and girls in the developing world with an emphasis on Africa.
The word “Aya” is a symbol from Ghana that represents endurance, resourcefulness and growth. It is the perfect name for a summit that will focus the progress that has been made and the challenges that remain ahead to elevate women and girls around the world.
Per ONE Women and Girls:
When women and girls are given the necessary education and tools, they can be change makers within their family and communities. Through a series of talks, panels, visuals, and demonstrations, the summit will explore what it means to be female and born in Africa, and what we, working together with our African partners, can do to make sure that all women and girls reach their potential. The summit will bring together leaders from the non-profit, private sector, government and celebrity arenas.
The AYA Summit will have a diverse group of speakers all discussing ways we can eliminate poverty for women and girls by providing better health services, education and electricity. We will have representatives from the World Bank, the GAVI Alliance and even actress Amy Poehler, this month’s curator for ONE Women and Girls blog.
The keynote speaker is Nick Kristof, an award-winning New York Times Journalist and human rights advocate who together with his wife Sheryl WuDunn co-wrote an amazing book called “Half the Sky”: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which launched a movement to help elevate the status and rights of women and girls around the world. I read this powerful book four years ago and it changed my life. I went to Nepal to trek the Annapurna Circuit trail and returned home to donate the $5,000 I had raised over the previous few months to a reading center in rural Nepal. After being exposed to all the inequities in the world in “Half the Sky” and seeing poverty firsthand during an epic trip to Nepal and India, I realized I too could make a difference and I haven’t stopped fighting since.
I look forward to hear Kristof speak about his newly released book “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity” written together again with his amazing wife Sheryl WuDunn. I am certain that this new book will push me to never give up and continue chasing my dreams of changing the world, no matter how big or small.
Related posts by my friends who are also attending the AYA Summit: