Date: Saturday, August 18th, 2012
Time: 3 pm – 5 pm
Location: Westlake Center Park, Seattle
That’s right–this is the fourth year of me shaving my head to raise money for global women’s rights issues with the organization I started, called Bald Solidarity. Happy…anniversary? Shaving is always easier than trying to think of what to say in this email.
I send this email out to everyone I know, and I have been so very grateful and encouraged by those of you over the last few years who have made space in your busy minds and busy schedules to hear me. I’m also so grateful and encouraged by the list of names. So many of you have made such an impact on my life.
I shave my head every year because I believe we need a change in culture. We live in a world gripped by big-picture fear. Fear of the right. Fear of the left. Fear of terrorists, of climate change, of germs, of Purell. We live in a country that has the biggest military in the world, but also the highest rates of incarceration in the world. We live in a country that pays women 77 cents on every dollar made by a man, but has no national policy on childcare or paid maternity leave.
I would prefer something else. I would prefer a country, a culture, a world that treats every human being with dignity and is full of people who are guided by compassion and wisdom, not fear or greed or a grasping need for power. A culture that lifts people up as well as keeps people safe. I don’t think I’m alone.
I’ve chosen to point to the connection between gender inequality and extreme poverty for several reasons. First, because I think we should start at the very bottom. Point to the people in the world who are most vulnerable and most voiceless, and let our efforts on their behalf shape our efforts on behalf of those whose needs are very real and closer to home, though not as dire. Second, because poverty tends to affect women in the developing world more than men because of gender inequality. Women get less food (men often eat first), less medicine (saving male lives are often more economically important), and less aid money (um…?).
I want to challenge my own culture to treat women differently as much as I want to challenge other cultures to treat women differently. Our culture shouts at women, “You must be beautiful.” By giving up my hair, a part of my beauty and dignity as a woman, to point to the indignities women suffer in the developing world, I say to my culture, “I am not defined by how I look. No woman should be.”
This year Bald Solidarity is raising money for The Girl Effect. This is a program that focuses on that same connection between gender inequality and extreme poverty, and it was the brain child of Maria Eitel, now the head of the Nike Foundation. They fund projects in developing countries that support education and microfinance for girls in the developing world, to give them a leg up in avoiding the snares that come from poverty and being female.
Please consider sponsoring me. Part of what we are asking people to think about is how they would react if it was their daughter, or their sister, or their wife that was vulnerable to child marriage, or human trafficking, or malnutrition, simply because she was a girl. Let’s give as though these people on the other side of the world are our own flesh and blood. That’s the kind of culture I want to be a part of.
The money I raise this year will go to educate girls orphaned by AIDS in rural Uganda, and bus girls in India to school who otherwise wouldn’t have transportation. My sponsorship goal is $5,000. Will you help me reach it?
Beth Roberts, Founder of Bald Solidarity