Who can deny how far women have come? Yet, with everything we’ve accomplished there is still more to be done for women and the world at large. These women below recognize what the world needs and are changing it for the better.
Founder and CEO of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), Rachel Lloyd is making the world a safer place for young women exposed to sex trafficking. It all began with one little girl. Her name was Yesenia. She was a twelve year old being held against her will, sedated and abused by a pimp. Upon discovering Yesenia’s abuse, Rachel Lloyd approached police. The police said if she is twelve years old then she is capable of escaping on her own. As Lloyd points out, the police don’t want to believe that girls in the sex industry are victims but rather “willing participants in their own abuse.”
Lloyd knew this cycle of victim blaming, especially from people in authority, had to stop. So she created GEMS, which offers young girls counseling, legal help and a safe haven for them escape to. At least three hundred fifty girls are able to escape the sex trade every year. In 2008 she was able to pass the Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Act which described children forced into the sex trade as victims instead of criminals. Since then eleven other states have passed the law, slowly breaking the perception that girls are without value but rather survivors.
24-year-old Sofia Campos isn’t just trying to navigate her early twenties; she is trying to redefine immigration in America. During her time as an undergraduate at the University of California she found out that she was an undocumented immigrant. She took this as sign that more had to be done for anyone in her position.
She began by volunteering her time to the student government and participating in statewide as well as national activism for the California Dream Act and the federal DREAM act. By 2011 she had achieved the position of Board Chair of United We Dream. United We Dream is a national network developed by young immigrants focused on immigration. Currently Campos is working and winning Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals as well as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability.
Melinda Gates has had the good fortune to visit Niger in 2012. There, she spoke to a woman with five children, who had to walk just under ten miles simply to receive birth control. This woman’s struggle to receive essential contraceptives was one Gates believed no woman should have to face. She dedicated all of her attention and resources should go to the two hundred twenty million women around the world who don’t have access to any family planning. With the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, she has been able to advocate for a woman’s choice over her own health, body and the amount of children she wants to have.
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