By Isabel Fitzsimons, 11th Grade Student at the Watkinson School
A person’s voice is one of the most powerful tools, and weapons, that we as people, and especially women, have. It is not just the words themselves that are powerful, but the actions that they evoke.
Malala Yousafzai said, “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” Every individual voice is important, powerful, and deserves to be heard. People say, what is not said is more important than what is said, so we must strive to talk about what is left unsaid. Those whose voices are silenced have the most to say, and we must let them speak, for they have been forced to be quiet for long enough. Women are not objects. They have a voice, and they deserve to be heard.
I am a quiet person. I like to listen, but not speak, but my pen is my voice. I write so that others can read. I read so that I can hear what those who don’t like to speak have to say because their words are just as important as mine and just as important as the people who stand up and make great arousing speeches. The only way to solve a problem is through communication, but good communication requires participation from all.
An example of poor communication is when the airbag was first created; it did not work well. For a device that was meant to help save lives, it hurt many people. This was in part due to the fact that the people who created the airbag were adult men. There was no input from women, who are generally shorter and have different body structures. The absence of the much needed female voice in the creation of airbags literally hurt many people.
Many changes have occurred because women have chosen to speak up. Women are silenced too often, whether it be because they are forced into silence, society expects them to be silent, or they are afraid to speak out; women’s voices are silenced and that is not okay. What they have to say is not any less important. Women need to be encouraged to speak and supported when they do.
Many people just listen, which is important for understanding things, but if they do not speak, then other voices will never be challenged and thus the opinions of those with the loud voices will be thought of as truth.
I know firsthand what it is like to sit idly by and listen, in fear of speaking, while voices chatter on around me and I am powerless to speak – a bystander, listening, but never speaking, collecting knowledge, but never sharing it. Listening is important, and in order to speak thoughtfully, one must always listen first and after. Not speaking at all hurts not only one’s self, but the collective. Our voices need not always be used for power; sometimes using them at all is enough.
We are fortunate to live in a country where our government protects our voices and provides us with the privilege to use them freely, but sadly we also live in a society that suppresses our voices, and this leads to danger. It leads to fear. It leads to ignorance. And worst of all, it leads to silence. Some say silence brings peace, but how can there be peace when problems are ignored and denied? Others say it is sometimes best to say nothing at all, but silence only means it is the perfect opportunity to speak up because you know everyone will be listening. We don’t have to scream for others to hear us. I don’t like to speak, but I have just shared my voice with you without uttering a single word. Our voices are our identity. What we say is who we become, and our words can change the world.
This blog post was an entry into Young Women Rising’s annual essay contest in which 11th grade students were asked, “What is one of the most important issues facing young women today and how do you see yourself having an impact on that issue?”