Hero 16I watched a video earlier this week that asked New Yorkers: “What do you think a feminist is?”  While answers varied, and definitely proved that feminism can be a contentious issue, it also made me think about what we’re doing here at Profugo to support women in the world.

I first found out about Profugo last spring at a screening of the film “Girl Rising.” The film presents the stories of nine girls from nine different countries. It chronicles their struggles with poverty, slavery, violence, and discrimination. And then it shows the difference education, empowerment, and a will to succeed can make in a young woman’s life. The tales woven throughout the film are mesmerizing, heart-wrenching, and an utterly powerful testament to the necessity of education and the strength of the human spirit.

These girls’ stories are not unique. Every day organizations around the world are working to change the fate of the women they encounter. I’m proud to say that Profugo’s name came up in the panel after the screening of “Girl Rising” when someone asked about local organizations working to empower women. I’m even prouder to be serving with an organization like Profugo that sees the value in giving women an opportunity to learn new skills, to gain confidence in themselves, to better take care of themselves and their families.

This month, Profugo is running a campaign to raise funds for our Health and Wellness programs. These programs, in part focused on community education and the provision of health resources, will benefit more than just the women of Wayanad — they’ll benefit the whole community. However, while I’ve been sorting through the photos for the campaign (titled “Hero for Health“), it struck me that most of the boys and men in the pictures look as if flexing their muscles comes naturally…and maybe it does. The girls and women, on the other hand, look a little less natural. Maybe I’m reading too much into these still images, but I wonder if some of them are learning for the first time that they are strong, that they have power, that they can overcome obstacles and reach their goals.

I’m proud to be part of an organization that knows these women are strong, smart, and resourceful, even if not all of them know it yet themselves. With the right tools and education, along with a lot of hard work, these women can change the world. They can be the heroes of their own story.

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