A Mighty Girl

On Facebook, I only subscribe to status updates from one organization: A Mighty Girl.

And I can confidently say that my life is happier and better since adding them to my newsfeed.

The stories of trailblazing girls and women - past and present - are a daily reminder that we are building our careers on the shoulders of giants.

For example, I read about Shirley Temple today. I didn’t know that besides being the most famous child movie star in history, she was also president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society and a U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

I read about Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to ever win the Fields Medal a.k.a. the “Nobel Prize of math” since the award began in 1936. She's currently a Stanford math professor and won the award a few months ago.

There are quotes from Xena The Warrior Princess (i.e. the actress Lucy Lawless) and singer-songwriter Janelle Monae, in addition to other modern pop culture icons.

There are stories about women from the US and all over the world.

I was humbled and floored by the story of Kakenya Ntaiya, a Kenyan young woman who negotiated with her father to delay female genital cutting so she could finish school. She came to the US to continue her education, then fulfilled her promise to go back to her Maasai village to open schools for girls.

She even convinced a village elder who used to be against educating girls to now supporting the idea. He realized that of all the young men who had left the village for the US, Kakenya was the only girl and the only one who came back to help. Changing deeply-rooted traditional views of women is a challenge to say the least, and she’s doing it one step at a time with visible progress already.

Also, to dip into American history, did you know that the first female self-made millionaire in America was black? Neither did I. I hadn’t thought much about the topic before this, and was in awe at each part of this story.

The story is of Madam C. J. Walker, born in 1867, who was the first female self-made millionaire in the US. She was the first child in her family born into freedom after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, meaning her parents and siblings had been slaves. She was an orphan by age 7, and widowed with a daughter by age 20.

Did this slow her down? It totally would have been understandable if it had.

But instead, she forged onward. She started and built a hair care manufacturing company that had 3,000 employees. She helped make lynching a federal crime (I can’t believe that it wasn’t at one point), and made large contributions to preserving the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass as a historical site.

Running a company with 3,000 employees is really impressive if it happened today. But this happened in 1908 - that’s a hundred years ago! For a double minority to accomplish that in the environment she was in is crazy impressive.

There are so many remarkable women whom I’ve learned more about from A Mighty Girl. When I read their stories, I am proud to be a woman and renewed with faith. I hope you’ll “Like” their Facebook page to get their updates too - it’s totally worth it.

UncategorizedWes Kao