Making a Difference, One Woman at a Time
It takes one woman to make a difference, but to shake the world, you will need hundreds. What these women have in common is their burning desire to bring change in their societies. The first step to achieving greatness is recognizing a problem and seeking out ways to help.
Nigeria, USA, Ireland, Africa
Story by Roseline, Roberta and Samantha. Edited by Samantha Khow
Published on November 19, 2022. Reading time: 9 minutes
Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes they come in heels, a matching handbag and rolled-up sleeves ready to get the job done. From providing financial and emotional assistance to single mothers living with metastatic breast cancer, to creating a network that supports female business owners worldwide, these women have found ways to lift other women up. In a world where it is quite easy to silence women’s voices, they found revolutionary ways to make their quietude loud enough to drive change. These women are pushing boundaries with the intent of leaving the world better than when they met it, and their stories are all the proof you need to know that you can do great things from small beginnings.
- Hannah Jagiri
PROVIDING A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE FOR WOMEN SUFFERING FROM METASTATIC BREAST CANCER
Author: Roberta Lombardi, USA
I was inspired to start Infinite Strength after my own breast cancer diagnosis. I went through 14 months of treatment and during that time I witnessed many women who were in financial despair trying to figure out how they could pay for treatment to save or extend their lives. These women had to make a choice between feeding their children, paying their rent or paying for treatment. Most were single mothers and all were either underinsured or had no insurance. I, on the other hand, had been given every advantage in life. I was educated, married, financially secure and could afford anything I needed to recover. I soon found out I was in the top one percent of most patients. Think about that! Most people cannot afford the costs of treatment if they get seriously ill. In addition, I learned a lot about breast cancer while advocating for myself. I found out that although I was considered early stage 30 percent of all early stage breast cancer patients will get a recurrence and become metastatic at some point in their lifetime.
So I decided to form Infinite Strength and concentrate on helping those who really need it most. The women we support are raising their children on their own, many have little in the way of a support system, and all of them are facing the challenges of living with a terminal illness. They need our support; their children need to know there is a community that cares about them. We strive to support both mother and child. Through growing Infinite Strength, I have been empowered to turn what I learned though my own experience with breast cancer to help those who need the most support.
Author: Adewuyi Roseline, Nigeria
Growing up, I could not help but notice a difference in the treatment of males and females. As a young girl, I was confused and wondered why this was so. I did not understand the complexity of the matter, but I lived with this thought in my head. I became so curious that I started asking people around me questions. The more I saw things I was not comfortable with, the more I asked questions. Unfortunately, most of the time, I could not get a satisfactory response. This was quite surprising for me because I lived with the idea that both genders are human beings alike, and so I could not fathom why there was a difference in the treatment of the female gender and how we were perceived. I had a lot of questions about my identity that were left unanswered. With growth came the understanding of how things worked, and I began to gradually realize why things were the way they were. As an Arts student, during my days in university, I was exposed to books that opened my eyes to the world of gender theory. As the popular saying goes, “literature is the mirror of life”; I was able to imagine and understand, to some extent, the lived experience of many girls and women all over the world, particularly in Africa. As a woman on this journey, I am yet to understand, fully, what womanhood entails. It is still an ongoing journey for me and I am still discovering a lot of realities about my body, my sexuality and my femininity. Heck, I do not even have it all figured out, but out of those little bits and pieces I know that I could help teach young girls.
For me, womanhood is an explorative journey [...] I am dedicated to a life of liberating girls from cultural barriers, scripted lifestyles, and gender stereotypes precluding them from aspiring to better heights.
As an outspoken advocate against untoward treatments that women and girls are subjected to in their immediate communities, I deploy my voice and pen as efficient tools to hammer my campaign home. I am committed to enlightening young girls on the insidious impacts of biases and stereotypes.
I have faced an abundance of challenges along the way, but the one that stuck out the most is accessing communities in a patriarchal society that dismiss gender conversations. When contacted, several religious schools said they did not want programs on gender issues held in their schools. This can be daunting, but through lobbying and persuasion, we always achieve our aim. Gender is a very sensitive issue and sometimes people are not so receptive to our message. They are quick to hurl insults and abuses. Cyberbullying is also an experience I had to go through as a result of what I stand for. What keeps me going is the support I receive from others through their supportive comments, despite how difficult this is. It also makes me smile when fathers and older brothers want me to be a role model for their daughters and younger sisters. It's a huge responsibility – one cannot simply entrust their daughter or sibling in the hands of another, and I, therefore, consider it a great honor and privilege.
THERE IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Author: Samantha Kelly, Ireland
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I felt isolated working from home online, and I knew that I couldn’t be the only woman building an empire online who was feeling the same. I also wanted to learn from other cultures and countries, and as it was primarily an online network, I knew it could be global. Inspired, I created the Women’s Inspire Network in 2016 to help support female business owners all over the world.
I know how hard it is to start a business, so I decided to create a community for female business owners. The members pay a small monthly fee to get access to me, weekly seminars, business support and mentors. It takes time to build an engaged community, but as a business owner myself, I understand what challenges business owners face. I also love to help the underdogs; it might be someone who has a brilliant business idea but no budget. We train our members to utilize the tech and social media platforms available to them for free so that they can become the “Go To” experts in their niche, giving people a piece of the pie and opportunities they wouldn’t get doing it alone.
Author's Note by Hannah Jagiri
Anyone can certainly participate in community service, but it takes determination and dedication to do what Roberta, Adewuyi, and Samantha are doing. After years of voluntary service, one thing I've come to realize is that most people who go out of their way to help people believe in their cause or it’s something that has affected them deeply. Sometimes, experience makes you more compassionate to the plight of others, just like Roberta, whose experience with metastatic breast cancer made her create a community that helps women suffering from the same ailment, but you do not necessarily need to have been through a particular ordeal before you can help people going through it. All you need is to be empathetic. The good you do often finds its way back to you when you least expect it.
It takes one woman to make a difference but to shake the world; you will need hundreds. What these women have in common is their burning desire to bring change in their societies. The first step to achieving greatness is recognizing a problem and seeking out ways to help. What problems have you recognized in your society?
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