In My Opinion is a weekly segment in which Interns and Staff at The White House Project comment on recent issues and articles important to their individual leadership.

1.) “Women’s Colleges Tap Underutilized Leadership Talent”

Written By Helen Drinan, President Simmons College

In this article, Author Helen Drinan explains how women’s colleges offer a safe place for young women to explore leadership development in ways that co-ed institutions can not. As a women’s college graduate myself, learning to adapt to all the ways in which women could pursue leadership roles in college was a challenge, albeit a welcomed challenge. After finishing my first year of college at a co-ed university, I knew I wasn’t putting forth my best effort and work. I knew I wasn’t comfortable in the co-ed setting as I was afraid to fail in front of my male peers. I was afraid my peers would see me as inadequate for the academics I was in; therefore, I performed inadequately. I decided to transfer to a women’s college. It was the best decision I ever made. Having the opportunity to attend a women’s college, opened my eyes to how important and necessary women are as leaders, and how well women work together. Most importantly, it showed me how I was just as likely as the next student to become a writer for the school newspaper and even become editor. The opportunities women are given in women’s colleges are limitless. The leadership positions are no less covetable, but perhaps more accessible. And that is important for young women to learn at that increasingly independent stage in their lives. This article helps young women understand that women are powerful leaders, powerful enough to lead colleges and universities. 

3.)  “Turning the Tide for Women: Vaginal Americans Rejoice?”
Written By Morra Aarons-Mele, Huffington Post

The recent discussion revolving around the globally bashed photo of the all male Congressional panel deciding the fate of women’s fertility has once again produced the question- where are the women? But this time women have taken their outcry online and to the media, leaving author Aarons-Mele wondering, can women now “rejoice”? Is the women’s health debate taking a turn? From what the media has to say about recent hearings on the debate, it seems as though women are now taking the stand, and It has been a long time coming. In the article, Aarons-Mele cites Nancy Pelosi’s past tweet of a recent hearing, “Today’s hearing on women’s health looks a little different than GOP’s hearing last week.” This has lead many to wonder, could things be changing fast? With many hopefuls keeping their ears and eyes “akimbo,” the women’s health debate may finally hear women’s voices. This has been a crucially important debate in the last few months as things get heated in Congress and as the 2012 Presidential Election comes near. The public outcry for women’s voices to be heard - alongside men’s - has had a positive effect on the direction the debate is turning. And young women, like myself, are becoming more and more aware of how possible it is for history to repeat itself; they are realizing that women need to be at the forefront of the issue, not sitting behind the panel.

 4.) “Afghan Men Get Schooled in Women’s Rights”

Written By Eliza Griswold

An uplifting article about a group of Afghan men who called on one woman to train them on respecting women’s equality. I was so impressed with the leadership of Jean Kissell, a woman who has selflessly dedicated over ten years of her life toward establishing women’s rights under Islam rule in Afghanistan, and who inspired the men in Afghanistan to recognize women’s equality. Not only was she helping women establish a leadership presence in their country, but she also engaged Afghans in how they would like to see their country run. This is an inspiring story about female leadership as it presents a story in which women are able to forge new paths and create networks, relationships and, ultimately, peace within a village under much duress. Kissell and her former student, Mohammad Nasib, helped to launch the nonprofit called the Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN). As the article explains, the work of WADAN is crucial in these last few years before American troops pullout. Kissell has established an Afghan community founded on trust, relationships, and leadership.

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About Sara:

I grew up in Eden Prairie, a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. After graduation I attended the University of St. Thomas for my freshman year. During which I decided that it just wasn’t the right fit for me. I transferred to its sister school, St. Catherine University, an all women’s college, where I flourished in English literature, poetry, theological studies, and women’s studies. I spent the summer of my junior year at New York University where I immersed myself in poetry, history and culture…and shopping of course. I have been with The White House Project for the past six months and I am enjoying every minute of it. I have had the great fortune of learning from some truly inspiring women. 

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