Name: Ariana Javidi
Location: Storrs, CT
Q. Can you tell us a little about your life path? What are you doing in your career and community right now and what lead you there?
A. I grew up in Storrs, a sleepy little rural town in Northeastern Connecticut which is situated around UConn. My parents both work at the university, so when it came for me to apply to schools UConn was the obvious choice. As a freshman, I got involved with College Democrats because of a close friend, and that spurred my interest in politics and advocacy as I found a network of people who shared the same passion for political and social change as me. I can remember going to every event and being blown away by the opportunities in front of me to get involved in local and state politics, as well as the accessibility of public officials to students like me. Through College Democrats, I got my first political internships at the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women as well as Senator Murphy’s Hartford office, which both reaffirmed my interest in policy. This fall, I’m taking another major step and transferring to Amherst College, where I hope to get a different kind of academic experience in preparation for law school, to fulfill my dream of becoming a corporate lawyer specializing in human rights and environmental sustainability issues.
Q. What does young women’s leadership mean to you?
A. To me, young women’s leadership means strong, empowered young women who inspire one another through their own personal achievements, and who encourage one another to strive to be the best version of themselves. Throughout my life, I have been blessed to have been surrounded by incredibly brilliant, compassionate, and successful women, who’ve challenged me to do things I didn’t think were possible. While I’ve worked hard, many of my accomplishments I at least partially credit to the young women I counted as my friends and peer role models who motivated me to reach for more through their own amazing example.
Q. Do you consider yourself a feminist? What does feminism mean to you?
A. I absolutely consider myself a feminist. I’ve always thought that the need to declare oneself that label in our society is pretty alarming – because to me, feminism is and always will be simply the belief that people are all entitled to the same basic human rights, regardless of their gender. As a feminist who is also an environmentalist, I’m a proud ecofeminist, which is a branch of feminism/environmentalism that understands the oppression of women to be explicitly linked to the oppression of the environment. Namely, ecofeminism professes that the exploitation and marginalization of women by men for our reproduction parallels the appropriation and destruction of the earth’s resources driven by masculinized capitalist structures. Thus, ecofeminists believe that the masculinization of social power structures to be centered around dominance, abuse, and exploitation rather than harmony, peace, and coexistence is at the root of both environmental degradation and female oppression. In my personal activism, I try to talk to feminists and environmentalists to underscore the similarities between the roots of feminist and environmentalist issues and to enhance cooperation and collaboration between the two movements.
Q. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other young women, ages 18-35, about how to build their leadership skills or the importance of becoming a leader?
A. The best piece of advice I can give to other young women is to just put yourself out there. Say yes to everything. You can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be; your identity as a human being isn’t something fixed and unchangeable. After thinking of myself as an introvert for as long as I can remember, a friend pointed out to me that by defining myself with that label, I was in fact restricting and holding myself back, when being comfortable around people is something you can learn, not something you’re innately born with. The opportunities you’ll find and adventures you’ll stumble upon won’t come from staying in your comfort zone, but will arise from talking to random people, going on spontaneous road trips, taking the time to meet people of all different backgrounds in your community, and saying yes to as many opportunities as you possibly can that come your way.
Young Women Rising celebrates one young woman each month by sharing their story here on our blog. If you know of a young woman between the ages of 18-35 that we should consider including please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.