When I think of heroes, a wave of PulseWire sisters' profile pictures flood my mind with your beautiful smiles and glimmering eyes, filling me with hope, inspiration and gratitude for the incredible work that's being done at the grassroots level - the endless nights of visioning, coordinating, grant writing, budgeting, marching in the streets, all while raising families and often holding down side jobs to pay the bills.
Women who fill me up with a new sense of possibility, in a world that once left me feeling so hopeless and discouraged. Now, rather than lose sleep on how our species could ever possibly end racism, gender discrimination, and the depletion of our environment, I wake up in the middle of the night - my mind racing with new possibilities for how to improve the platform and increase tools to help facilitate your dreams for creating a world where every girl is raised to know her limitless potential.
Women like Malaya, who fight every day for a peaceful world for her daughter, despite death threats. And who can make you laugh until your stomach hurts, and cry without wanting to wipe your tears - all within 10 minutes. Women like Subhadra who stare down every obstacle she's faced with, as a Dalit, as a daughter, as a non-traditional student, and has led an entire tribe of women to claim their rights.
Strong, determined Nigerian women like Olutosin whose voice, when I heard it for the first time, pricked up every hair on my body and brought me to my feet wanting to scream, "YEEEEEEEESSSSSS" as if I were in a church pew and felt the power of the holy spirit rising within me. Or Busayo, whose colleagues called her crazy when she insisted on getting connected to the world wide web, and now beg her to teach them after she returned from her second empowerment training in NYC.
Young women like Ruun Abdi or Sunita Basnet, who are going to transform not only their communities, but their entire nations and who I expect one day will answer to the title of Madam President of Somalia, or Madam President of Nepal.
Sisters like Leah, who I've never met in person, but feel closer to than some of my own blood relations. And who, when I finally get the chance to sit down with, face to face over a steaming cup of tea, will quadruple her hero-status in my eyes, just by sheer ability to hear her entire story & vision, without the electricity running out and her laptop battery dying.
Women like Jackie, who when I saw for the first time in person at the Denver airport didn't seem real - because this GIANT voice for the women of Bolivia is housed in such a petite frame. Or women like K-Lee Starland who have become mentors, cheerleaders, living miracles for so many of us on PulseWire.
Women like Nusrat, who carries the weight of young Kashmiri men and women casualties of injustice. And whose tears fuel her pen that brings hundreds of new supporters to a people struggling for justice in an under-reported conflict. Or women like Sarvina and Fatima, who are like the glue that binds a network of global women leaders together.
Sisters like Fungai, who make this world feel very small when we realized that we share the very same, fiery, red-headed college mentor named Elinor (another hero of mine), despite the fact that I'm from Alaska, and she from Zimbabwe. Sisters like Beatrice, whose super-human like spirit and determination confirm the very reason why I joined the World Pulse team two years ago.
Suddenly I feel like I'm at the Academy Awards show, accepting a prize for luckiest woman on earth, and the music has started playing, people ushering me off the stage, so many women left to thank, so many heroes left to honor, to acknowledge, so many incredible women here in this community that make me smile every morning, when I open my computer, who bring tears to my eyes through their hardships, and through their successes, women who have shown me a new world - where possibility knows no boundaries, and where we will claim our truth and speak for ourselves - no matter who tells us to sit down and be silent. And I'd also like to thank god and my Momma Joe, who showed me what unconditional love and support can look like. I love you mom!
My hero? It's YOU.International Women's Day 2011: A Call for Heroes