Eight Words; A Powerful Lesson

Suzanne Marlatt Stewart

For many of us, we are the matriarchs of our family and have had many lifetime lessons and gained a lot of wisdom to pass on. So, for me, sharing with my daughter this information is important so she can share it with her stepdaughters and daughters-in-laws, who in turn can share if they have daughters.

Every month, there are hundreds of national and international celebrations dedicated to raising awareness and support for meaningful causes. Three very powerful women, Melinda French Gates, Michelle Obama, and Amal Clooney, are collaborating to push the bar on gender equality. Melinda French Gates offers her advice on what it takes to succeed, and I can’t help but pay attention. With just eight words, she was taught a remarkably powerful lesson.

Set your own agenda or someone else will. The agenda of our lifetime is making sure that women can take their full power in society. Ultimately, women can be anything they decide to be, and they can and should make those choices for themselves.” She continues, “So, what I want to say to women is you need to take care of yourself first, and once you do that, then you can give fully to others.”

French Gates, Obama, and Clooney have pulled together an alliance of their foundations to move gender equality forward while ending child marriage.

French Gates also stated, “Remember, you do have a choice. You need to set your own agendamake the decisions you want to make, do the things you want to do, put yourself first some of the time instead of lastor you can be certain someone else will.”

 “This issue is personal to me,” said Michelle Obama. She recalled her own childhood: “I knew I was smart. I knew I was capable. But I also knew that I lived in a community that wasn’t necessarily willing to invest in my greatness. So, we must change that paradigm and we must do it fast. Because when girls don’t learn we all suffer.”

Clooney, a co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, stated, “10 million girls a year are being forced into marrying too young. Who knows how many of the 10 million could have gone on to find the cure for cancer or lead a country?”

French Gates, former co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said “that girls need to know it’s fine for them as adults to marry or not, to have children or not, and to work outside the home or not—but, crucially, it should be up to them.”

Through this partnership, these three women will participate in joint advocacy and work together to scale and expand each organization’s programming around the world. “I am so grateful that Melinda and Amal—two of the world’s most compelling and influential leaders for gender equity—are teaming up with the Girls Opportunity Alliance,” said Obama, of her foundation. She added that a goal is ”to help remove the barriers that stand in the way of every girl getting the opportunities she deserves.”

Encourage your daughters, granddaughters, and nieces to be all that they can be and share your wisdom.

Rev. Suzanne, a resident of SaddleBrooke is an independent writer and speaker. She was ordained non-denominational, representing all faiths, and her focus is inclusivity. Email her at [email protected].