By Stacia Hoover

At 7, Reina doesn’t know yet what challenges she’ll face but already she senses inequalities. “Mom, why are boys supposed to be braver and better than girls?” “Why do people call things ‘him’ or ‘he’? Can’t the dinosaur be a girl?” I try my best to answer but mostly I say, “Honey, people can be wrong. Girls CAN be strong and brave and dinosaurs!”

We volunteered at the Girls Unlimited! Conference to be part of something big.  We walked through the halls helping set up and were met with kind words, smiles, and a strong feeling of unity and purpose. Reina was glued to the media presentations and read every message in the “If you could talk back to media, what would you say?” spot. She really got it.

In the lecture hall, Reina looked behind her to see 200 determined females.  She saw strong girls and women inspired and joined together to reject negative messages about our gender. Her smile reached from ear to ear – she felt the power.  What she learned is that we are not victims; rather, we can define our community in ways that honor us as female.

Reina was transformed by our day at Girls Rock 2012. I’ve seen a maturity and a calmness come over her, and an attitude of certainty in her worth as a girl.  I know that big challenges are yet to come but her experience has opened her eyes in a way that they can’t be shut. I am so grateful to Hardy Girls Healthy Women and their sponsors. I have no doubt that these kinds of efforts can transform our society for the good of us all.