03/04/2013 02:03 pm ET Updated May 04, 2013

The Moment Has Come -- What Will We Say?

Simone N. Sneed, Director of Development & External Affairs

I vividly remember the room. It was October 2010 and I was attending a private fundraising event at the home of a well-respected leader in women's philanthropy. As we all mingled and networked, our host quietly entered the room. She maneuvered through the audience and delicately perched herself at the base of the staircase. Once settled, her assistant handed her a microphone.

For several minutes she didn't say a word; she scanned the room making eye contact with women she knew. One by one, my colleagues and I quieted until the space was filled with stillness and silence. She stood, poised with the microphone less than an inch from her mouth and in a tone a bit louder than a whisper and with a smile that can be described as a smirk, she simply said,

"My sisters, the moment has come, we have been handed the microphone -- it is time for us to step up -- what are we going to say?"

For three years, these words have filled me with purpose, dedication and commitment. Her question and the sentiment it carried have never been truer or more prescient. Around the world and in our own communities here in the U.S., the call to uplift the needs and voices of women and girls has never been louder.

With March being International Women's Month, I'm more aware now than ever of the beauty of this moment. As the new Director of Development and External Affairs at Inwood House (, I am honored to join our collaborations and to leverage our collective energies to not only transform, but also create a new world where the needs and aspirations of women and girls are prioritized.

In corporate efforts such as Nike's Girl Effect, public campaigns like The Girls Scouts Year of the Girl, international grassroots organizing efforts such as Eve Ensler's One Billion Rising and innovative and successful funding initiatives like Catapult, a crowd funding site that now allows us all to support projects that improve the lives of girls and women, it is easy to see -- the writing is on the wall. The moment to tip the balance has arrived. This is extraordinarily true here in New York City.

For nearly two centuries, we at Inwood House have been dedicated to answering the call. In that time we have listened deeply and allowed our beliefs to be informed by the truths of the young people we serve.

We believe that as a community we must ensure that every young woman in New York City and beyond has the freedom to make choices that are right for her, access to an engaged, gender appropriate and empowered education, and the ability to embrace her own limitless potential.

For young women to get there, we know that we must equip them- and their male peers- with the skills and tools to authentically reach their goals and become healthy self-reliant adults.

In every borough in New York City, and in every place around the country and globe, young women are displaying their fierce commitment and dedication to their own resilience and success. They are actively defining tomorrow's reality.

As these brave , insightful and brilliant young women step up to the microphone, we all only have to do one thing, answer their call.

Inwood House, founded in 1830, is a New York City non-profit equipping young people with knowledge, skills and tools to become healthy, self-reliant, joyful adults. We believe in young people and their potential - no matter their circumstances. Our programs work help all youth overcome the cycles of poverty by both helping prevent teen pregnancy, and supporting teen parents. Follow us at @InwoodHouse.