11/18/2013 12:39 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Girls Impact the World

If there is one message my life is dedicated to, it is that girls impact the world.

Ever since going to an all-girls high school, I've treasured the value of sisterhood. Being in an all-girls environment encouraged me to find my own voice, interests, and passions. I started high school as a shy freshman, and it took me a couple of months to finally contribute my voice in class. When I became a sophomore, I began to come out of my shy shell gradually through the support of my classmates and teachers. I ran for student government for the first time and surprisingly won. Soon after, I began to become more confident and more involved in class discussions, student leadership, and extracurricular activities. Nicole was my campaign manager when I ran for Key Club lieutenant governor, and Taylor held my hand when my first boyfriend broke my heart. My biology teacher, Ms. Nguyen was the source of my passion for advocating for women in science, and my school's leadership director Ms. G believed that I could be on the Associated Student Body as a junior, in spite of its positions historically filled by seniors. Even in college, the 170 girls in my graduating class were and still are my support network. By having these girls and women support me, I have been deeply thankful for their friendship and mentorship, even if I'm 3,000 miles away from home.

My high school experience is what inspires me to continue advocating for women and girls. I myself have experienced the power of sisterhood, friendship, and support. We live in a world that emphasizes individualism in lieu of collaboration. Our history emphasizes the successes of brotherhood, yet fails to adequately acknowledge how networks among women are perhaps the most underestimated and the most powerful alliances that have been and should be made. It's time to change that. It's time for the solidarity of women and girls to finally be emphasized and placed in the spotlight.

The annual Girls Impact the World Film Festival held by and Harvard's Social Innovation Collaborative is initiating this worldwide network for women and girls. High school and university students are given a scholarship opportunity to spotlight women's issues around the world through the vehicle of film. Last year, the winning film called "International Boulevard" spotlighted the prevalence of human trafficking in the United States (specifically in the Bay area), a phenomenon commonly mistaken to only happen overseas. Women and girls experience similar disparities and injustices around the world, and it is our duty to expose the injustices they face around the world in solidarity with them. GITW Film Festival gives young people the opportunity to do exactly that, and it has drawn attention from leaders throughout the world including Jeff Skoll, Leymah Gbowee, and Muhammad Yunus.

It's time for us to emphasize a new message throughout history. It's time for history to finally value and recognize the meaning of sisterhood. It's time to declare once and for all that women and girls together can and do impact the world.