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International Day of the Girl: empowering Belmont women

Leading up to International Day of the Girl on Saturday, Belmont hosted its second day of  convocations for women empowerment.

International Day of the Girl was started by the United Nations two years ago “to raise awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality around the world.  It’s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere,” according to the Day of the Girl website.

The convocation, Empowering the Belmont Women,  was lead Tuesday by a panel of six Belmont students who all had one thing in common-they’re women.

The women each spoke of experiences they went through and in most cases are still going through. The panel’s concentration focused mainly on the topics of race, spirituality, sexuality, body image and individual aspirations.

One of the first questions asked by the mediator, assistant professor Julie Hunt, was what made the women unique to themselves as well as how they felt connected to all women.

“In my discussions leading up to this panel, we kind of came to the same conclusion that the few, if not one universal feeling, that women seem to feel is the feeling of otherness,” said Sean Della Croce, an entertainment industry studies major. “As a gay lady, an aspect of that is that you have to come out in the first place.”

The topics branched out into subjects not usually mentioned in casual conversation.

The women spoke candidly about their struggles growing up in a broken home, having an eating disorder, being an Egyptian-Muslim-American, struggling of identity, as well as finding a place on campus as an African American woman.

“This past spring I was in treatment for an eating disorder and it was something that I struggled with privately for a very long time. I was very uncomfortable with myself and that kind of grew for me as my eating disorder,” said Kelsey Worsham, an English creative writing major.

The panelist were asked collectively if they felt misunderstood and uncomfortable with themselves.

The answer was unanimous – they all said yes.

“Everyday. Always.  I think in many ways it’s supposed to be that way. In a healthy way it’s supposed to be that way, where we push ourselves and challenge ourselves to grow,” said Keayana Robinson, an English major.

The people attending the convocation were mostly made up of women who snapped and clapped along with the empowering words of the students. Their message was women are strong and sometimes it’s hard finding an identity and self-worth, but it can be done.

“There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman being able to go to tell another woman that she is beautiful and that she’s smart and that she is doing a great job and she has a lot to offer,” said Robinson.

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