One month ago, I began my journey from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. Today, I am proud to say that I have hiked almost 500 miles.
A guy recently trolled my YouTube channel and bashed my “liberal agenda” of hiking to fundraise for girl empowerment nonprofits. I thought about his words when holding the American flag on top of Mt. Baden-Powell last week.
Here’s the truth—I am proud to live in a country where women have the choice to marry (or not marry) whomever we want; where girls aren’t subjected to female genital mutilation; and where we can own property and businesses. I am proud and so grateful to live in a country where I can hike over 2,000 miles on my own and not fear for my safety every day.
Being able to be myself is a huge privilege. I am 31 years old and am actively choosing not to be married, not to have children, and to hike across America (twice now). If I was born in a different country, would I be able to choose this life for myself as a woman? Even within this country—if I hadn’t been born into a middle-class white family, would I have the confidence to believe that I can do anything I dream of?
I want to live in a country where ALL young women are raised to believe that they can do anything; that their voices matter; that their bodies are theirs alone to make decisions about; that they deserve the same salaries as men; and that they have the brains and power to take big risks. The three women-run nonprofits I am hiking for want these things, too. They are helping girls, especially from low-income backgrounds, to find their inner strength by challenging themselves in nature. They are working to ensure that more young women have the support they need to truly blossom.
Mr. Troll calls this a liberal agenda. We call this self-actualization.
If you believe in an America where all girls are given the tools to be daringly themselves, join my community of funders. 100% of what we raise will go directly to GirlVentures, Gaia Girls Passages and The Girls Empowerment Workshop. We’ve already raised $3,000 in one month—let’s keep the momentum going. Thank you for believing in this as much as I do!
Photos by Walter Beauchamp. Find him on Instagram @walter.world.wild