Womenetics Winner

Last month I attended a conference with my manager, John Ujda, our VP of Marketing. He was invited to share about the role of business in empowering women’s health and education. John’s speech was amazing and inspired many attendees to believe in the importance of business in the world of development.

There were many other renowned, compelling and encouraging presenters and panelists at the Womenetics Global Women’s Initiative Conference such as Ambassador Swanee HuntFounder of the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School and even two of my personal heroes, Somaly Mam, Co-Founder of the Somaly Mam Foundation (and author of “The Road of Lost Innocence”) and Naomi Tutu (yes, the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu), Race and Gender Justice Activist and Join My Village Ambassador.

I was most struck, however, by a women even younger than myself. Judy Wu stood on stage with a grin from ear to ear and a heart that made the whole room silent in excitement. Judy, a student at Northwestern University, was awarded with the Womenetics “Advancing Aspirations Global Scholarship” for her essay on women’s education. I was so taken by her passion that I asked her to write a guest blog for you to learn more about her ideas and dreams.

When I stumbled upon the Womenetics scholarship, I knew instinctively that something amazing was going to come out of the process. As a student in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern, education stood out as a topic that I definitely understood and could write about.

The topic asked, “Research what steps are being taken to increase international access to education and put together a step-by-step proposal for one country of your choosing to further diminish the rate of adult and child illiteracy.”

In my essay, I briefly discussed the current state of international education and the kind of initiatives that are being implemented by countries, NGOs, and corporations across the world. There are huge funding resources like the World Bank, but there are also smaller organizations like Opportunity Financial, which provides micro-loans for teachers who want to build schools in underprivileged areas in Asia and Africa. Both types of aid are incredibly important, providing much-needed resources and opportunities for countries with poor educational infrastructures.

My proposal was for Nigeria, a country with an extremely poor literacy background but bursting with an incredible potential for change. In an effort to target the entire educational foundation, my recommendations targeted not only the student but also the broader community.

My essay began with an anecdote about a young female student who cannot afford books and other materials because of her gender and lack of resources. For young students, however, reading and writing is crucial to a successful future. Constant reading as a young girl has made me appreciate books and writing as an adult. A few of my favorite books include She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

As the winner of the Georgia-Pacific scholarship, my belief in change and human empowerment doesn’t stop with one essay. After attending the Womenetics Global Women’s Initiative symposium in Atlanta, I realized that the best kind of social activism is one that is persistent and unyielding. To advance any human right requires incredible compassion, and more importantly, complete and utter belief in your cause. Whether it is preventing human trafficking or improving global education, any change is difficult and requires a lifelong, steadfast faith in your ideals. In my heart of hearts, I am a believer and doer of change, and I know I will carry that ideal with me no matter where my career and future leads.

*Note* The above blog post is a guest blog from Womenetics Scholarship winner, Judy Wu. This content does not necessarily reflect the views of Better World Books (as our lawyers make sure we say). We love having guest bloggers and invite you to email 11@betterworldbooks.com if you are interested in covering a book or topic on the BWB Blog. Thank you, Judy!

Judy’s passion for girls’ access to education shines through. What are your dreams for education? What advice do you have for Judy as she strives to fight for her cause? Any book suggestions? Thanks for sharing!

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