by Hillary Grantham
I am part of a unique group of women. I am a motherless daughter. I don’t share that in an attempt to separate myself from anyone, but rather in hopes of connecting someone.
I will spare you the details here, but I lost my mom in a tragic car accident when I was 21 years old. At a time in my life when I was becoming a woman and learning what that meant, I lost my guide.
I suddenly became keenly aware that there were qualities I was drawn to and desired to know more about. A code existed…not a code society had written for me, but one I felt in my heart and desperately needed to discover and connect to.
There was an element of “femaleness” I was very attracted to and at the same time needed a map in order to uncover. Internally, I felt as if the absence of a mother was written across my forehead. That somehow I missed the memo and was the only one wearing jeans at a black tie event.
I’m sure there are some psychological implications here, but my point is that as a young woman, I innately knew there were strengths and attributes I was drawn to in other women. I knew I possessed those strengths and I had something unique to offer the world…I just needed someone to point the way and encourage me when everyday obstacles and voices of opposition seemed insurmountable.
There is something unique to women that offers strength to our communities. In a society where it is largely accepted that we diminish the differences between men and women and demonstrate that women are the same as men, I tend to think we may have missed the mark. Could it be possible that in a reaction to the discrimination and injustices towards women in the world, we have wrongly confused “equality” with “sameness” and ignored the strengths inherent to a woman?
I have three girls. My desire is to see them grow up as confident women that are connected to who they are, women that choose to use their gifts to empower and lift the people around them. The drama, the creativity, the compassion for others, the stubbornness, and the strengths. I see it everyday and am challenged to be their advocate.
I also have two girls that I sponsor to attend school in Zimbabwe. Grace and Precious. They too are motherless daughters, orphaned as a result of war and disease. They call me Mom. They are beautiful girls that I desire to see grow up and transform the places in which they live. I am challenged to be their advocate as well.
Recently, I have had the honor of working with Abigail, a microbiology student in at a state university in Nigeria. Her passion is to build the girls of Nigeria and challenge them to be all that God has created them to be–to not be limited by their surroundings, but to create a new reality for themselves and for those that will come behind them. Her story is a beautiful one and I hope she will receive support from individuals and organizations that are advocates for women from around the world.
In my work with Beads of Good, a social entrepreneurship company co-founded by my daughters and me, we are advancing underprivileged women in Africa through education and employment. We are working with Abigail to provide a high school education and artisan vocation for young women in Warri, Nigeria that are vulnerable to being sold as child-brides or becoming victims of human trafficking. We are rescuing girls that have been marked as property and giving them hope for a positive future.
Women that have been victims of slavery and abuse can undo what has been done and have a meaningful impact on their environment. The world needs her!
I have seen the power of one women change a community. I believe that women have gifts that can build, nurture, and sustain healthy families and communities. And I believe that as a woman, I am responsible to offer my strengths where I can.
My thoughts are summarized best with a quote from the queen of Jordon in her open letter to girls of the world as part of the “Girl Rising” project. Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah said, “as the political, social and economic plates shift and settle around our region, there’s never been a better time for girls to rise up and share their talents with society. And, girls! Society has never needed you more.”
Hillary Grantham I am the co-founder of Beads of Good and an activist for broken families and communities. I am a mom to 3 beautiful girls and desire to advance women in Africa through social entrepreneurship. I want to be a good neighbor and an advocate for all that is good.
I am a licensed professional counselor and have served both non-profit and business leaders. I have dedicated my time to build people and equip leaders to effectively influence their communities and impact organizational success.
I love hanging out with girl friends and experiencing the depth of who they are and being reminded of my own uniqueness and strengths.
I don’t assume that my experience allows me a voice into your life or that it somehow qualifies me to write about, anything. But I hope that my words can be a reflection of the beauty that is you.