Rebecca Siegel, Beauty Within Delhi
Young women around the world are denied the basic human rights that would empower them to lift up their communities and themselves. These can include limited or restricted access to education and support, child marriage, sex trafficking, sexual assault, early motherhood, anxiety, and depression, but the list goes on. Beauty Within provides a level of emotional and functional support to girls who have never had a dedicated space to discuss the obstacles they face or to ask for help. We are dedicated to providing a safe space for girls to grow. This has been extremely challenging at times - we have faced loud opposition from parents, administrators, and community leaders. But, we have also received an outpouring of support. More and more young women are gaining access to education and healthcare due to the work of incredible organizations around the world. Thus, while we are currently in our nonprofit incorporation process and cannot offer tax-deductible donations at the moment, we encourage our community to donate to another incredible organization that is working toward gender equality. Some of these organizations are:
There are 1.1 billion girls in the world, and we are fully invested in ensuring that each one of them has a fighting chance. Please join us today in celebration of #InternationalDayoftheGirl
Beauty Within celebrates a successful two weeks in Mauritius!
The beginning of July marked the end of the successful 2 week Beauty Within workshop that took place at Le Bocage school in Mauritius. Thanks to the dedication, hard work, and determination of Mauritius Director Trishna Craig and Mauritius Deputy Director Myisha Beebeejaun, 90 students were able to experience the fun and challenging Beauty Within curriculum. Trishna and Myisha had expressed interest in focusing the workshop on cyber safety and social media, and worked directly with Founder and President Rebecca Siegel to augment the original curriculum to specifically focus on these points. Beauty Within must thank the administration at Le Bocage for their cooperation and the generous donation of facilities and supplies. As always, it is with the help and enthusiasm of progressive teachers and counselors that Beauty Within is able to make as large of an impact as has been possible.
cLICK THROUGH GALLERY: some photos taken of Beauty Within Mauritius
Beauty Within Welcomes the Mauritius Team
It is our pleasure to welcome Trishna Craig, Director of Beauty Within Mauritius and Myisha Beebeejaun, Deputy Director of Beauty Within Mauritius to our international family.
My name is Trishna Craig, I’m an 18-year-old student and I live in Mauritius. Mauritius is a small island off the coast of Madagascar. Since the dawn of time it has been the key of the Indian Ocean, being a major post for trade. This is why today Mauritius is considered a melting pot of various cultures and ethnicities. Due to these cultures that date back to well, a very long time ago, the Mauritian society is not as progressive as some may think. Mauritius has a very prominent old-fashioned culture, which brings along a very patriarchal way of thinking. Being a woman in Mauritius has presented many difficulties. One thing that I have had to accept is being harassed by men on the street. It may sound quite wrong when I say that it is a normality for cars to slow down next to you and men to attempt to touch you while you’re at the mall, but it is a normality. Although, don’t get me wrong Mauritius is not like that everywhere, it depends on where you go, thus women are quite restricted to certain “safe” places on the island. While it is safe to use public transportation in these areas, it’s important to dress conservatively because men will never be at fault for sexual harassment. Yet, if you’re not in one of these safer areas, then freedom is something you have to let go of.
These restrictions are only a few reasons why I am so passionate about feminism. I wanted to get involved with Beauty Within because I knew that girls here had never been taught otherwise. I found it important to use this amazing platform to empower women here show that value is not dictated by men. I want women of all ages to understand that they are worth it. Beauty Within will allow me to finally bring hope to the girls that think there is none, it will allow so many women to finally understand that no matter what other people say, they are worth it.
My name is Myisha Beebeejaun. If there's one thing I've always been passionate about, it's female empowerment. I consider myself relatively privileged in the sense that my gender has never impeded my opportunities. I've had an excellent education surrounded by mentors who've encouraged me to be confident, to be strong, to strive for success. In short, I was provided with everything any developing child deserves. Unfortunately, I'm one of the lucky ones- and that's a huge problem. Progress towards gender equality in Mauritius hasn't been stagnant, but we're still far from our goal. Be it a lower income compared to their male counterparts with the same qualifications or the high percentages of domestic violence against women, we still get the short end of the stick. In fact, Mauritius currently stands at 113/144 on the Global Gender Gap Index. Other than being a slightly worrying statistic, it also hints that Mauritius isn't the perfect breeding ground for self-confidence and inner strength for women. Women face a set of problems that are unique to us, and Beauty Within aims to help young girls face them.
We live in a world where the words 'female empowerment' can elicit a lot of controversy, and it shouldn't. Female empowerment is about teaching young girls that they have the right to wear whatever they want without fear of judgment or objectification. It is about showing them how to not fall prey to the media and its twisted 'ideals'. It is about teaching them to be comfortable in their own skin. It is about helping them achieve their goals and become the very role models they admire. It is, above all, letting them know that they are not alone in a fight against oppression both from other people and within themselves. You don't need to be affected by a problem to take a stand. When you want to make a change, you have to start at home- and that's what we want to do. We want to make a difference by lifting young girls up rather than tearing anybody down. Together, we- men and women- can make a positive impact on young girls and give them the tools they need to better themselves and better their future.
Beauty Within - Delhi
Everything they tell you about India is true: the crowds, the energy, the chaos, the kindness, - it's all there and it can be overwhelming. I spent my first days getting my sea legs and sight seeing around Delhi and Agra. My favorites were the crowded corners of the Chandi Chowk - a spice market in Old Delhi - and the imposing and ethereal Taj Mahal. The stark juxtaposition of these two sights captures the frenetic energy of India as well as its deep artistic legacy. While I did not have the time I needed to truly delve into India's rich cultural history - it's clear that it is an impressive one. Luckily, my trip was without any major complications - however, we found it incredibly difficult to get cash. In late 2016, Prime Minister Modi demonetized the 500 Rupee and 1000 Rupee notes, which sent Delhi into economic turmoil as the city - which runs mostly on cash - tried to compensate for the sudden lack of currency. Despite the current disorganization, citizens are optimistic. Many people I spoke to told me that they hope the move will eventually help to legitimize the economy and drain money out of the black market.
Now on to the important stuff. The first Beauty Within Delhi class was conducted at the Kilkari Home for Girls in Delhi, a government subsidized orphanage. Some of the girls were true orphans while others had parents who could not afford to support them. The class consisted of 20 girls ages 14 to 17, which presented a challenge all on its own. Older girls are interested in different things than girls ages 11 to 13 and I had to adapt my curriculum to their different interests on the fly. We listened to a lot of music, spoke about Item Songs which are Bollywood music videos that objectify women, and discussed body image and dancing. The girls were vibrant through the entire week. Their willingness to participate, speak up about their experiences, draw their dreams and, of course, get up and dance filled each day with their infectious laughter and energy. Each day was split up between art activities, public speaking, English translation and discussion. We discussed poetry and spent hours on goal-setting. By the end of the week, it was hard for me to leave them. They had shared so much with me and taught me so much about acceptance, self-love and dignity. I cannot wait to check in with these young women in a few months and to hear that they are working towards achieving some of their goals.
Each Beauty Within workshop reminds me of how lucky I am to spend weeks with the most incredible young women on the planet. Their strength and inner beauty is unparalleled and their willingness to let me and my team into their lives is met with such gratitude.
Finally, I would like to thank our sponsors for making Beauty Within Delhi possible. Their generosity shaped these girls' lives for good.
Nayi Udaan Organization
Beauty within delhi iphone photos
Here are some iPhone photos from our trip. Look out for a full gallery later this week!
Priyanka, 14, showed so much growth throughout the week. On the first day, she was hesitant to take part in any activities, by day 5 she was leading her own skit group and presented a funny and intelligent skit on female education empowerment.
Pooja, 13, was an absolute delight all week. She came into every activity with zest and dedication. Her art however, blew us all away. She was generous enough to gift some of her sketches to Rebecca and other members of the Beauty Within team.