When I think of Beijing+20, I know that my grandmother would be proudScott Taylor is a Policy Analyst and Graduate Research Fellow at the Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership in New York, where he is pursuing an MA/PhD in International Relations. The 31-year-old California native is also currently interning within UN Women’s Programme Division for Africa.
This is a picture of my grandmother, who was the epitome of women’s empowerment. More than anything, she was self-empowered. As a divorced, single mother of three in the 1950s, she had to be. In her final years, she often spoke of her determination to succeed for the sake of her children – and succeed she did. She was successful in caring and providing for her sons.
Working in the aerospace industry, she would eventually become an executive for one of the largest aerospace manufacturers in the world. She had 10 grandchildren, including eight girls. Her granddaughters would follow in her footsteps of self-empowerment – among them are two PhDs, a high-ranking military officer, and a General Manager for the third-largest retailer in the world. My grandmother lived to meet 12 of her great-grandchildren.
I marvel at the challenges she overcame in her lifetime, and I am grateful for the opportunities she had to succeed. She was strong-willed, but she was also very fortunate. She was fortunate to be surrounded by people who were willing to empower her with opportunities to succeed. The effect of those opportunities can still be seen in the lives of three generations of her descendants today.
Working at UN Women, when I picture women’s empowerment, I picture my grandmother. My hope is that women and girls throughout the world will one day have the same opportunities to succeed as she did, and that countless generations will benefit from their empowerment.
As a researcher, I can attest to the strong correlations that exist between gender equality and strong, prosperous, and safe societies. As the son and grandson of self-empowered women, I can say that it does the same for families.
When I think of Beijing and Beijing+20, and all of the progress that has been made, I know that my grandmother would be proud. But as a self-empowered woman, she would call upon the next generation of women and men to push forward with empowerment and gender equality. This is a journey that we must make together, and I can only imagine the promise it holds for humanity.